Earlier this year, "California.com" sold for $3 million and "Leads.com" sold for $435,000, according to Domain Name Journal.
Those would be hefty price tags for a small business to pay, but it’s likely an entrepreneur may face having to purchase a domain name that's already taken, considering 300 million-plus are registered.
Nowadays, “your first choice in .com is pretty much gone,” says Alan Dunn, managing director of Florida-based NameCorp, which specializes in domain name management and acquisition.
If you're buying, “price is so arbitrary,” says Dunn. “It’s all relative to the buyer and seller.”
NameCorp does a lot of domain name acquisitions for established brands where it’s not uncommon for the average purchase price to be well over $100,000, he says.
While businesses can certainly purchase names for less, they need to weigh their options carefully.
“Your domain names are critical because they are the front door of your business," Dunn says.
Yes, it’s always good to go after the .com, but if that’s taken, consider variations or other extensions, he says.
As a first step, it pays to do a simple search on a site like GoDaddy.com to see if your domain is still available, says Andrew Hazen, a Jericho-based domain investor, serial entrepreneur and attorney.
Hazen recently acquired more than 200 Long Island-focused Internet domain names including LongIsland.com for an undisclosed amount, and he does “stealth” domain acquisitions for private and public companies.
Once he does a GoDaddy search to see if the domain is available, he looks on Whois.com to see who might own the domain. Sometimes you can see who owns it, and sometimes it’s private.
If it’s not private, he then researches the seller’s name. Knowing if the owner is a dominant investor or broker — who tend to have domains with higher price tags — can help smaller buyers determine if the domain may be out of their price range.
While some sellers don’t budge on price, there’s usually room for negotiation, says Hazen, noting he recently negotiated the purchase of a $15,000 domain down to $1,000.
You can employ a professional to help with strategy and to facilitate the negotiation or you can go to domain marketplaces.
Some popular domain marketplaces are Sedo.com and Afternic.com, says Steve Jones, COO and co-founder of Virginia-based Frontspace, a digital marketing agency whose services include domain and brand consulting.
On these sites, there are usually options to buy now or make an offer.
Whether you can negotiate depends upon whether the domain has an asking price and if it's above or within your budget, says Jones. If there's no asking price or the price is above budget, negotiation would be necessary, he says.
Conversely, you may not want to negotiate, particularly if you feel you must get that particular domain name and the asking price is within budget, he says. In that case, just buy it for the asking price to ensure you'll get it.
If you can’t get your first option, then consider adding another word to your domain like xyzinc or xyzmedia, says Jones.
You may also have to consider other extensions like .net, .co and .me, he says.
Before you buy any domain, do your homework and see if the domain name has ever been used or linked to a website, says Anthony Savino, president of Benjamin Marc, a Lake Grove-based web design, logo design and marketing firm, who assists clients in buying domain names.
You don’t want to purchase a domain with a bad history attached.
He usually can help clients find the domain they want.
“I’ll tell my clients to email me three different domain variations they like,” says Savino. “Usually there is one that is available.”
The fourth quarter of 2018 closed with approximately 348.7 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains, an increase of approximately 6.3 million domain name registrations, or 1.8 percent, compared to the third quarter of 2018. Domain name registrations have grown by approximately 16.3 million, or 4.9 percent, year over year.