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This article was published on May 26, 2014

5 short and sweet tips to help you find and buy popular domain names

5 short and sweet tips to help you find and buy popular domain names
Ben Woods
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Ben Woods

Europe Editor

Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional online poker player. You can contact him via Twitter or on Google+.

Buying a new domain name isn’t difficult to do, but if you’re looking to score something a bit special – and don’t want to pay over the odds for it – your job can be a bit harder. And if you’re looking to buy a domain that isn’t being registered for the first time, the task can be even harder.

Thankfully, armed with a few tips and some time for research, there are a bunch of places that can help you find the best names. On this occasion, we looked at the database – which lists more than 300,000 domain resales from the past 14 years or so – and a few other services, like It’s worth noting that the service doesn’t track original domain sales, just resales of popular domains. 

Of course, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when buying a domain name, but testing the water to see how popular certain words are certainly isn’t a bad starting point.

Shrtr’s bttr

Some of the most common advice on buying domain names is to keep it as short as possible – fewer characters makes it more likely that people will remember and type out your URL. It also means fewer potential spots for misspellings.

However, contrary to what you might expect there are a few exceptions to this. For example, judging from URL stats filtered by length, you’d be better off going for a five letter domain name than a three or four letter one. Historically, five letters have sold for an average of $6,054.86 whereas for four letters it’s only $3,641.86. Nonetheless, two letter domains are still the most prized and have an average resale price of $16,887.56.

There’s also another bonus to having a short URL – most people know they cost more than longer ones, and as such your brand is instantly imbued with feeling like a ‘premium’ player.  Anything longer than 12 characters is more difficult to remember and to type, and as such, is not recommended, although it will obviously be cheaper.

At the other end of the scale, you have the longest URL ever sold – an unwieldy 53 character affair. And the most expensive? Well, as we’ve told you before, that was

Creativity isn’t necessarily key

As well as keeping it short and sweet, keep it simple. Having oddly spelled words, or worse, including a hyphen (-) in your URL is a real dampener on popularity (and therefore its onward value). It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with hyphens, but when was the last time you clicked on one, particularly with multiple hyphens and didn’t think it looked a bit dodgy?

In fact, less than 3 percent of all URL resales included a dash, and it’s likely that some of those were only made as defensive acquisitions, according to Mark Kychma, a partner at MAKTIG VC., the company behind the database.


If you’re trying to think of an original available name that fits the bill, tools like Domainr can give you some inspiration and help you along the way. If you’re really stuck you can use Bust A Name (shown above) or Dot-o-Mator to make some suggestions including suffixes and prefixes.

Or if you’d rather just put your typing skills to the test you can check out Domain Hole’s Domain Drop game. All the names that fall are available URLs and all you have to do is type them before they reach the bottom.

Don’t be blinded by .com

Obviously, having a .com domain isn’t a bad idea, but it could also be worth considering a .org, .info, .me, .tv, ,co, or .ly address. Kymcha said that “if they are jingly and match the context of your service, Google will rank them very well anyway”.

It’s also worth noting here that the value of .com domains has actually been falling for the past few years to an average of $3,007.23 for 2013. So far in 2014, the average has rebounded and currently sits at around $4,800.

It’s also handy to take a look at this list of average resale values for all TLDs to get an idea of popularity and value.

Do your homework

Research, research, research. It’s the key to many things in life, and domain names are no different. Think that registering is a good idea? Go right ahead, but a quick search would reveal that there have been no public resales involving the word immense at all – clearly, not a popular option for URLs.

At the other end of the scale you have the most frequent domains resales,, and Each of those has been resold seven times, so far.

It’s probably also best to avoid URLs that potentially infringe on existing businesses. For example, Facebook probably isn’t too happy with some of these URLs.

As well as giving you an indication of popularity of certain words, it can also lead you to nuggets of information like that someone bought in January 2013 for $5,000 and still hasn’t done anything with it. No doubt, a (dubious) investment for the future.


You have two options: you can pay sticker price, or you can try and negotiate.

Before you get to the point of handing over cash, you can do yet more research to see what the domain may have sold for in the past, or what similar domains have sold for. The better armed you are with info, the more chance you have of a successful negotiation. Kymcha advises to “always negotiate below the average, which [would be] around $2,000”.

That said, it isn’t always easy to draw comparisons in domain name values. Some might cost a relative fortune and flop, and others might be a bargain waiting to be discovered – though these are obviously harder to find. Generally, shorter names are more expensive and anything that involves an existing business is going to be a lot more pricey and more complicated to purchase – even if the page is dead or inactive.

Featured Image Credit – Shutterstock