Are product-related domain names slowly dying?

When I first started buying domains the notion of a “category killer” domain was all the rage. You could pick a niche, let’s say roofing, and go buy a domain like RoofingCompany.com and think – either a roofing company will buy this, or someone will put a directory on it, and people did.

Then the world changed and companies like Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. became the go-to directories leaving a lot of these niche so-called “category killers” in the dust. When businesses didn’t come knocking to buy these domain names, Domainers often turned to development and tried their hand at directory sites…but these rarely took off because the idea of – “if you build it they will come” really doesn’t apply.

I wrote a post seven years ago about why most Domainers won’t make a dime with directory sites and I think it still rings pretty darn true today. So I know a lot of people that got stuck with huge portfolios full of product-related domains with nobody to sell them to. Now you see these names dropping all the time and yes, Domainers are still bidding on them and repeating the same mistakes.

IMHO we now live in a word where one-word domains with massively broad use cases and brandable one and two-word domain names have won. Best Buy could have called their company ElectronicsStore.com but they went the brandable route, Home Depot could have been called HomeStore.com and heck, Amazon could have branded on SuperStore.com…but instead they went the brandable route and domains like SuperStore.com sit parked with their owners hoping that their day will come.

Now I’m sure I will get some comments with people sharing examples of successful companies that have build their brands on product names, and I agree – some have, but the majority are going the way of the brandable or the ever-broad one-word .COM.

Just look at the top three domain sales so far this year:

  1. Super.com – $1.2M
  2. Great.com – $900,000
  3. Liquid.com – $750,000

You could build just about anything on these domains. Liquid.com doesn’t have to be a site that sells something liquid, it could be a ride sharing company, it could be a hosting company, a new blogging platform, it could be anything. The same goes for Super.com and Great.com. Rewind to the early 90’s and when you heard the word “Amazon” you probably thought of a jungle, not a shopping destination, but that’s the power of a generic one-word domain, it can be anything you want it to be.

One of the best most recent examples of this is Bird, a scooter company now valued at over a billion dollars. When you think of a “Bird” you think of something that flies and so you might say – well they shouldn’t have named their company Bird because nobody thinks of scooters when they hear the word Bird, but it’s generic and now, honestly when I hear the word Bird, I think of a scooter.

So here’s the question, do you think product-related domains will come back, will we start using the words “category killer” again, or has that ship sailed?

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Matt July 3, 2018, 6:37 pm

    I honestly don’t think I ever thought of a domain with ‘company’ or ‘store’ as category killer. ‘Furniture’ is a category killer. ‘Furniture Store’,…I never perceived as a CK.

    Reply
  • Anunt July 3, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Category killer domains were only popular to domainers.
    In the real world, it’s all about brandable dot com domains.

    Reply
  • Snoopy July 3, 2018, 9:48 pm

    Great topic.

    EMD’s have dropped a lot since 2012 Google changes, ditto for one word plural names. The SEO benefits of a domain are now far reduced.

    I think such sites need to be a strong business to rank well long term. I still think there are probably SEO benefits though, too many EMD’s rank well where it is a large company. If it is domainer style development, forget about it, Google will be working against you.

    The whole “exact much” stuff is not a normal way of naming a business, it is unique to the internet and phone. Still it probably makes a lot of sense and I think it will survive even though the current market is weak.

    These names resonate with consumers especially in categories without household brands. You talk about bird.com and other people talk about hotels.com. For every example there is a counter example. Still the products names are definitely out of favour right now, that can’t be ignored.

    Reply
  • alan dodd July 4, 2018, 5:27 am

    At the small/medium business level + niche marketing level, these are just fabulous. The world is not all about the unicorns! Small is beautiful!

    From a domainer POV, these are fabulous, as it’s more likely someone will think of the domain, and search for it in Godaddy.

    Agreed, these aren’t suitable for startups aiming for huge domination.

    Reply
  • Mark Thorpe July 4, 2018, 7:02 pm

    Exact match domains (EMD) will always be the staple of domain names IMO.
    NameSelling.com got me to where i am today, with very little marketing.
    A brandable domain would of never gotten me this far.

    Brandable domains with a keyboard in it are okay, but they take more marketing than EMD’s.
    Made-up brandable domains are risky IMO.
    You need a really good product and a lot of money for marketing to succeed.

    Also, I don’t base my domain buying decisions on what is Google’s current search algorithm.
    Google Page Rank. Enough said!

    Reply
  • Alan Dodd July 8, 2018, 6:33 pm

    I just re-read my post and I have to completely disagree with it.

    A startup could absolutely achieve domination using a generic/descriptive domain, as anything’s possible.

    Booking.com is a gr8 example of this. Air’BnB’.com have a strong descriptive aspect to their name.

    PreSearch.io is one ICO that’s very interesting – what would search.com do for them? Not saying it would make a difference, but it could.

    Reply
  • Sri July 14, 2018, 10:18 am

    This needed to be said. Search engines ignore EMDs. End users ignore EMDs. All the wise domainers were already shifting base when you wrote that piece 7 years back.

    Reply

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