What makes a domain name valuable?

If you’re looking to buy a domain name that’s owned by another company or individual, there are a number of criteria you can apply to help determine if the price is right. Here are some of the key factors that contribute to a domain’s value:

It’s a .com. For now and the foreseeable future, this is the domain of choice for businesses. If you want to be taken seriously, you want a .com domain name.

It’s distinctive and will help brand your business. Consider the difference between BokJoy and ChineseCabbage. The first is clever and fun, and has a variety of positive associations (freshness, greens, health, happiness, Chinese food…). It’s the kind of name that could be a springboard into a marketing campaign that truly brands your business. The second name is purely descriptive, and about as distinctive as a plain white dinner plate. Guess which one stands a better chance of attracting customers?

It’s catchy. Linguistic strategies like alliteration (FreshFare, BusyBites), rhyme (WisePrise, BoldHold), and wordplay (ZoomLends, InstantMeplay, Airmada, Roamio) make a name stickier and easier to remember. And by playing off existing expressions or words, a name can also provide a built-in sense of familiarity that adds to their memorability—and value.

It’s a real word or composed of real words. Real words and expressions (EvenKilter, SalesFleet) sound familiar, are generally easier to spell, and can drive Internet traffic. These kinds of domain names are also much scarcer, which adds to their price.

It’s under 8 letters. Humans are lazy creatures. Shorter domain names (Vansis, Tutro, Nanios) are easier to type, and often (although not always) easier to remember.

It’s intuitive to spell and say. Abilize, Everprise, Sighten: none of these domain names are real words, but all of them are simple to spell and pronounce if you’re an English speaker. (For a global audience, on the other hand, names with a consonant-vowel-consonant construction, like Asana, Kodak, and Coca-Cola, are the easiest to pronounce.) Other factors that go into ease of pronunciation are how melodic a name is (does it flow?), and whether the stress syllable is in the place you’d expect.

Of course, a domain name’s value to you will also be determined by how well it embodies the messaging, tonality, and personality you want to project for your brand. Bear all of these different factors in mind, and you should have a better sense of what a name is worth (or not worth) to you, and when it’s time to open your wallet.

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