While estimates vary, there are at least 1.8 billion websites. That’s a lot of domain names that have already been taken – not to mention all the names that are owned but not currently in use. What’s more, some domain names are much more desirable than others.
This means you may find yourself wanting to purchase a premium domain name. This could be one that is already owned or has been judged to be of a particularly high quality. While the prices for these names may be steep, they also tend to be more memorable and brandable.
If you find yourself faced with the choice between a regular and premium domain name, don’t worry. In this post, we’ll walk you through the process of making that decision thoughtfully. Let’s start with the basics!
How Choosing a Domain Name Typically Works
When you create a new website, one of the first things you need to do is pick a domain name. This is its unique identifier, which people can type in to visit your site:
We’ve previously discussed how to choose a domain name, and how to register one, which is usually a simple process. You start by coming up with some potential names, then visit a domain registrar. There, you can use a dedicated tool to see if the names you want are available:
Typically, you’ll keep trying variations and different Top-Level Domains (TLDs) until you find a name you like – and that isn’t already taken. However, what if you really want a name that is already in use? That’s where premium domain names come into the picture.
What Premium Domain Names Are
A domain name that is already owned by an individual or company is usually off the market. However, some owned domains are available for sale. These are called premium domain names:
There are many reasons a name could be considered premium. Maybe it’s no longer in use and instead of relinquishing the domain, the owners have continued to pay for it. This is typically because it’s a name that someone else is likely to want.
In fact, some people buy domain names they never intend to use, hoping to sell them at a markup. Domain registrars can even set aside certain names as premium, and charge a higher price for them.
There are a number of reasons a particular domain name might be viewed as especially valuable. A few key factors include:
- Length: Shorter names are usually more memorable and appealing to a wider audience.
- Brandability: Catchy, unique names that immediately communicate their niche and audience are considered valuable.
- Keywords: Certain keywords, such as “cars” or “tech”, are so popular that it can be hard to find new and quality domain names that include them.
Whatever the reason, once you encounter a premium domain name you have two options. You can try to purchase it, or look for something else. Let’s discuss how to go about making that decision.
When to Use a Premium Domain Name (And When Not To)
The main benefit of premium domain names is that they are often shorter, easier to remember, and more ‘brandable’. The primary downside is their high price – sometimes ranging between hundreds or thousands of dollars. By contrast, a standard domain name will usually only cost between 10 – 30 dollars:
The decision comes down to whether or not the name is worth the cost. Of course, this is a largely personal decision, and depends on a lot of factors. However, here are some of the questions you should ask yourself when evaluating a premium domain name:
- Does it fit into your budget? No matter how much you might want to snag a particularly strong domain name, doing so isn’t worth bankrupting yourself or your business.
- Are there other names you can use? Before you settle for a premium domain name, do some research. See if you can find a slight variation that’s just as good, perhaps by using a different TLD.
- Are you planning to monetize your site? It’s easier to make a case for a costly domain name if you’re intending to build a money-making empire on top of it.
- Is attracting a lot of traffic important to you? Catchy and memorable domain names tend to bring in more visitors, and are good for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
If you intend to build a high-traffic site, such as an e-commerce store or another online business, that brings in significant revenue, the high price may be worth it in the long run. On the other hand, if what you’re creating is a basic blog or a smaller niche site, you’re probably better off choosing a cheaper domain name.
How to Buy a Premium Domain Name
As we mentioned earlier, some premium domains aren’t actually owned by anyone, but are sold at a higher price due to their desirability. For this reason, they can be purchased from a regular domain registrar. While searching for the right name, you’ll find a lot of options at a variety of different price points:
For domain names that are owned, you have two main options:
- You can contact the owner directly. This is often possible by using a domain lookup tool like Whois.net to find information about a specific domain name.
- Check out a dedicated domain marketplace, such as Afternic or DomainAgents. These sites lists thousands of privately-owned domains, that you can buy at a set cost or make an offer.
Regardless of your approach, you’ll want to proceed carefully. There’s some risk inherent in buying a premium domain name, as you’ll often have to pay first and trust that the other party will transfer ownership as promised. Using a marketplace cuts down on that risk, since they often have policies in place to protect buyers.
Finally, sellers are free to charge whatever they’d like for a premium domain name. You’ll therefore need to be wary of over-paying for a name that isn’t worth it. However, you can get a better deal by knowing what makes for a high-quality domain name, and taking the time to estimate the value of the specific name you’re looking at.
Most of the time, registering and maintaining ownership over a domain name is cheap. However, premium domain names can set you back hundreds or thousands of dollars. For that reason, buying one isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.
Whether or not a premium domain name is worth the cost comes down to how much it will benefit your site. If you want to make money and attract as much traffic as possible, the right name can be worth the investment. However, for most sites, it’s easy to find a regular domain name that works just as well.
Do you have any questions about whether you should purchase a premium domain name? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: ImageCreator.