What's in a (domain) name? Your chance at online success

When building a business and a brand on the Web, your chosen domain name is everything.

Website domain names – the Internet address the helps Web surfers find your site – are the backbone on which we all locate things on the Web and thus are the communications glue that makes the web work as well as it does. For any new or existing business, selecting a domain name can be the most challenging and frustrating process that a business can undertake.

This process can often times cause an existing business to change it’s name to fit a domain name. It simply is getting harder to find a good name that has not been registered.

This is where Mike Mann fits in. Mann is the president of BuyDomains.com. He owns 250,000 of the finest domain brands in the world. He took a few moments to explain his unique perspective on domain names as another form of real estate – or in this case virtual real estate – and how many good high value domain names are still available for a price.

Q: How long has BuyDomains.com been around on the Web?

Mann: We’ve been around about five years now.

Q: Tell us about the core services you offer on your site.

Mann: We mainly offer premium domain names for sale. Secondarily, we do domain registration services with a variety of free value added services that come with each registration.

Q: It seems BuyDomains.com is focused on treating domains as another form of real estate.

Mann: Domains are real estate on the Web. There is a certain amount of space on the Web which is determined ultimately by the number of eyeballs. There are X billion people per day on the Web and you can carve up those eyeballs as they hit different Websites. The better domain names in the world receive more traffic, therefore they are better pieces of real estate. Location, location, location!

Q: How do you assign value to those names?

Mann: We do pretty complex metrics evaluations. We try to break down the domain to a multitude of characteristics. We have software that does a big piece of the evaluation. We also have three of the world’s best domain appraisers that come up with the ultimate price. They are the best because they’ve sold dramatically more domains than anyone else in the world.

Q: What is the best profile of a domain name?

Mann: A .com is definitely the best domain. Any domain that you change to a.net would instantly be worth roughly a quarter of what the .com is worth. A .org is meant more for a charity, but the .org’s in general would be worth substantially less. We find that .biz is okay. We don’t like .tv at all unless you have a TV show and only a few hundred people in the world would have a use for that. They would prefer to have “buydomainsTV.com” rather than “buydomains.tv.”

Q: It used to be the goal to get a domain name with as few words as possible. A five-letter domain name would be excellent. How important now is the length of the domain name?

Mann: The shorter domain the better. Historically, people were trying to save space and would truncate their domain names.

For instance, “buydmns.com” would save space, but in reality it was bad for my brand.

It is necessary to have your entire brand names spelled out, regardless of the length. We recommend that if you are serious about your brand, you get every possible combination of your domain name and point them all to the same site.

That is called a forwarding service. In our case, we don’t charge any extra for that.

Q: Do you have a favorite domain name that you own and is available for sale?

Mann: I have Made.com. Another one of my favorites is Tasty.com. We also have Broadcasting.net.

Q: What kind of dollar amount are we talking about for these domain names?
Mann: Those particular ones are in the tens of thousands since the are the very best ones, but most are between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.

Q: What you think about VeriSign’s recent changes in going after the unassigned domain names and trying to hijack those for ad revenue?

Mann: It is unbelievable how they believe they have the right to steal every single Internet address in the world.

VeriSign stole every single possible combination of letters that anybody could accidentally type as a Web address. That’s because the government handed them a monopoly years and years ago and they’ve been abusing it over and over and over.

The government does not hold them to account. It is the biggest joke that I have ever seen and there are lots of people suing them.

This has blindsided everybody and it is extremely unfair trade. Many of us have documented all their illegal abuses over the years, delivered them to the Department of Commerce, delivered them to the FTC, delivered them to the Department of Justice, delivered them to all the senators and congressmen, delivered them to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) who were supposed to regulate them, but nobody has ever done a thing to them.

It’s just the insiders club of stealing the Internet.

Author’s note: For information on the details of what some are calling the “Great Internet Hijacking of 2003,” see the WashingtonPost.com article entitled “Not The Public’s Domain” by Jonathan Krim, published Thursday, October 2 (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31115-2003Oct1.html).

For more conversation with Mike Mann, the full audio interview is available starting Saturday at WebTalkGuys.com. His Website is at www.BuyDomains.com.

Dana Greenlee is co-host, producer and engineer of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show, a Tacoma-based radio and Webcast show featuring technology news and interviews.