Would a rose.ai smell just as sweet as rose.com? Is a vanity domain name worth the price?

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

As William Shakespeare says, "What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet." So, is it true that one has to own a vanity domain name for their brand? People say the most important part of a domain is the marketing, but there’s a bit more to it than that. One can easily purchase a domain name via GoDaddy, the first year of which will cost £9.99, and then the succeeding years will cost £29 annually. One can always buy complementary domain names, but the assumption that search engines would find all these other domain names then route the traffic through to the final destination is untrue, because search engines don’t just register and look for domain names. They only look for domain names with content on them.

The first choice for a SPEAK|pr domain name was speakpr.com, but it wasn’t available, although for $48, GoDaddy Plus could have made that possible. GoDaddy also offers add-ons, but it’s important to exercise caution when buying domain names from GoDaddy, because you can end up buying a £9.99 domain name and spending additional fees for domain name protection, auto-renewal for multiple years, and so on. They say 150,000 domain names are under threat each year, but hopefully yours or EASTWEST PR’s is not one of them.

Photo from Tech-Wonders

While eastwestpr.com is a domain focused on international public relations, the SPEAK|pr program is a Mastermind, and it is starting to distract the main message of the PR firm, for which work is done for international companies in Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, and more. The work involves media relations, LinkedIn management, digital marketing, and it’s a network of consultants from around the globe who are able to deliver this work. Meanwhile, the SPEAK|pr Mastermind is a training program for entrepreneurs or organisations that don’t have the budget for an agency or would prefer to manage it in-house. 98% of companies are said to comprise of less than 250 people, and so this is one of the reasons why it’s been separated into its own domain. Having an entirely different website for SPEAK|pr further solidifies its presence and emphasizes the service offering that it can provide to people in need of this.  

Domain name do’s and dont’s

When it comes to buying domain names, establishing whether it is going to be a campaign-specific or a product-specific domain is a good first step. Buying a domain for a unique site for the purposes of owning the domain name may only cost $9-$15, but it does rack up if you buy them up over multiple years. One of the things to avoid is buying domain names if they can’t be supported. Another point is that for "generic" domain names like dogs.com or pets.com, it’s actually hard to brand those if they’re worth a lot of money, like insurance com. Those are nouns, and they are also the name of a particular industry, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that products can be sold off of it. It may be great as a directory website, but it may not be a great brand website. If you’ve got a decent budget, there are also premium domains available. 

Another element that comes up is this idea of exact match, that if you own the words that are frequently searched like "restaurant near me," that would then appear highest in the search engine rankings. However, in September 2012, Google issued a software update that explicitly devalues domains with exact match domain names. Another consideration is not buying misspellings. In the past, it was fashionable to buy every domain that was a derivation of the main website if there was a typographical error, but the challenge was having to do a lot of redirecting, and those things would add up. In the first year, one domain is only £10, but then it’ll cost £29 in the years to follow, so you could end up spending £200-£400 a year just on domain names, and that’s without the protection and all the other widgets that people try and sell you. 

Apparently, short domain names are preferable, especially those with six or seven letters, probably because it’s easier to type. Trademarking the brand means that one can complain or take action against others that use a domain name that is a contravention to your trademark, but that would probably be a lot of hassle. What you might be able to do is to prosecute someone for promoting a good or service. You might not be able to take the domain name away from them, but you could prosecute them if they’re trying to use your trademark. 

Domain name protection and challenges

There are some issues about protection of the brand. ".net" and ".com" are the main domain names, but there are alternatives such as ".co," ".inc," and even ".ai" and ".io" that could be interesting to use. In trying to get a domain name noticed, there is a website called Entire Web, and for free or for $29, they will submit the domain name to others.

What’s in a name? A lot. One of the functional problems is typing if it is long. Another one is that when you have your own email account attached to the domain name, you may need to use an abbreviation. Speakpr.co is perfect, because it’s not too long on the business card, it’s not too cumbersome when it comes to setting up email, and it explicitly says what the business does. The domain name is another example in internet marketing where it’s worth keeping it simple. Especially at the beginning, protecting the basic idea is paramount, but spending too much money on registrations and protections and all kinds of offerings that people like GoDaddy or Network Solutions have can just increase the budget that would be better spent on promotion.

It’s possible to auction off domain names, but one would need to pay to become an auctioneer and then pay a commission for doing so. Some domain names are worth having and selling, but most of them seem to be just cannon fodder. Eastwestpr.com is a domain name that is now worth over $2,000, which is great for the business. So, if you’re looking at buying a domain name for your business, buy one that easily describes what and then focus on putting worthwhile content on it. There are many simple and effective ways of getting your business or organization noticed, and having a domain name that speaks to your brand is one of them.

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo from eApps

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