The Size of the Web

At the close of the second quarter in 2018, there were approximately 339.8 million domain names registered. That’s more than the population of the United States. With all those possibilities, how does one choose where to plant their flag, and say this is my domain to control?

A Brief History

Back when the early internet, ARPANET, was taking shape, someone would need to type in an IP address to retrieve information from the network. This worked fine for a time, but as the network grew, the number of IP addresses that the hostname registry controlled became too great (plus people have an easier time remembering names than a random set of 6+ numbers). They needed to find a way for their new growing internet to grow beyond the number of IP addresses that one database could hold by decentralizing it.

Domain names date back to 1983, when the Domain Name System was introduced to ARPANET. The first seven domain names introduced during the 1980’s were .com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net and .org, of which three had no restrictions (.com, .net, .org). They have since been joined by 250 two-letter country-code top-level domains (.cn for China, .uk for United Kingdom, .de for Germany and so on), and over 1000 gTLDs (generic top-level domains), like .club, .nyc and .ninja.

Rules of Thumb When Choosing

There are good rules of thumb to follow when choosing a domain name, regardless of extension.

  • Keep it as short as possible, while still representing your business ( vs
  • Try to avoid numbers and hyphens as they are not intuitive nor easy to remember.
  • Choose something that’s easy to spell, and/or buy the domains that may be typed in by mistake. Have you ever typed in instead of It will direct you to Facebook, and that’s on purpose.
  • If you’re just starting a new business, it’s a great idea to choose and purchase your domain name prior to registering your business license.
  • Choose a gTLD extension that is intuitive for your business if .com is not available.

The Importance of Extension

In the world of domains, .com is still king. It’s one of the oldest and most recognized domain names. It’s been the business extension for decades and is ingrained in the public’s mind that that is where your company website will reside. I’ve often seen relatives put in .com at the end of a domain name even when I don’t provide them the extension because they assume that’s what it would be. With all this in mind, when anyone asks my opinion on what to purchase, I strongly encourage them to choose a .com when possible.

What To Do If the Perfect Domain is Not Available

Out of the currently registered domains, 135.6 million of them are .com. That’s a lot of real estate that has already been claimed. While no one can actually buy a domain name permanently, they can be renewed up to 10 years in the future and held indefinitely. That means, that chances are, a quality registered domain name will not be let go, especially if it’s being used for a website. The good news is there are ways to acquire them. Since domains are essentially digital pieces of property, they can be bought and sold as such. These domain names are referred to as Premium Domain Names. Premium domain names are short, memorable, easy-to-spell names that are for sale by the owner. These can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, but can be a very wise investment for the long term.

Is Purchasing a Premium Domain Name Worth It?

It will depend on individual circumstances whether it is worth it to purchase an owned domain name at a premium price, as each is different, and the prices reflect that. Let me provide two fictional scenarios that may help provide insight into how these would be worth it.

Scenario #1

A man owns a pool cleaning company in the Phoenix area that he started years ago called Scottsdale Pool Care. He wants to develop a website to appear more credible online and to grow his business. He goes online and finds that the domain is already owned but can be purchased for $625. He decides against spending that much money on a domain name, and instead settles for When he starts telling his customers about his website address, they get excited, but later tell him they can’t find it. When he finds out they have been trying to use the extension .com instead of .services, he starts making business cards to hand out so his customers can easily refer to what the correct address is. He then purchases search engine ads to direct traffic from mistyped customers to his domain name. These marketing costs add up to well over $1000+, exceeding the price he would have paid for the Premium Domain Name.

Scenario #2

A woman owns a dog grooming business called Karin’s Pet Grooming. She is stuck with the domain name This domain breaks all the rules you want to follow: it uses hyphens, uses numbers instead of words, has a misspelled word, and is too long. If you needed pet grooming, and a van drove by with this domain name wrapped on it, would you be able to remember it or be able to write it down quick enough? How much easier would something like or be to remember? Hard to remember domain names can end up costing an unknown amount of potential revenue to a business.

In addition to the return on investment for a domain name, there are added SEO benefits. A domain name’s age, history, registration length, and whether there are keywords in the name are considered according to the latest 200 Google Ranking Factors.

So, What to Choose?

With so many domain names taken already, it may seem daunting to find ‘the one,’ but it can be done! In some respects, choosing the right business name and domain is one of the hardest things you will do. Take your time, find the right one, and start growing your online brand.