Jul 19

Why a One-Word Domain Name Isn’t Always Good

It’s hard to argue against the value of one-word domains. They have achieved most of the largest domain sales ever and have helped many websites stand out as brands or rank well in search engines. But are they always valuable or good to use?

Not always. Here are the two incorrect beliefs that some people fall into regarding one-word .com domains:

Misconception #1: Any dictionary word .com is valuable

Many people feel that because of how many names are registered, a dictionary .com must be rare and valuable. Many domain sellers exclusively go after single-word .com’s with this notion in mind. The only words they might avoid are ones that are almost never used or said.

This notion is similar to how the shortest domains are viewed. 2-3 letter .com domains for instance are valuable even if the letter quality is poor. It’s easy to assume the same could be true for a single-word domain.

Why it’s not true

Just because a word is said by some people or gives a lot of results on Google doesn’t mean it is good in a domain. This belief leads people to registering what amounts to awkward domains.

Here are a few pitfalls people fall into when getting single-word .com domains:

1. The word’s meaning might be too narrow

Could you make a site about the art of counting on one’s fingers? That’s the meaning of dactylonomy, yet it’s registered in 3 different extensions. It’s impossible to brand otherwise and its meaning eliminates its potential.

2. People only care about the word’s definition

All respect to Dictionary.com and similar dictionary sites, but this usually indicates a word that’s not profitable. Once people get the definition, they’re usually done with the word. Even if you target people looking up the word’s definition, Google now defines most words above all results if the word + definition is searched.

3. Despite being only one word, the domain has many bad qualities

Downsides like difficulty to say, difficulty to spell, sounds awkward, etc. show up just as often in single-word domains. People may have less words to remember, but a straightforward 2-3 word domain can be much easier to type in or remember than one single tough word. It’s also easy to give the wrong image or cause confusion if your word is not a common term in your market.

Misconception #2: If you can’t get the one-word domain in .com, the best available extension will do

There are particularly powerful words that are worth millions of dollars in .com. This notion is that if you can’t get that, then get it in the best extension you can afford. After all, if it’s a powerful word, would the extension make that much of a difference?

Why it’s not true

Despite most extensions being only 2 or 3 letters, more obscure extensions can be harder to remember. As it is, .com is still the default extension in many people’s minds and other extensions are at a distinct disadvantage (as per our last post). If you’re only targeting your country and your country’s extension is widely used, it would be a viable option besides .com.

Beyond that for many one-word domains and you’re having to juggle the strength of the word and the strength of the extension. An exact keyword match may have SEO value in any extension but the value tapers off beyond .com, .net, .org and your country’s extension if it’s popular.

With many markets, different extensions can lose effectiveness regardless of the name strength. People may think the site isn’t very serious because of its extension. Sure, some brands have succeeded this way but again, you don’t hear of the many that fail.

In conclusion

Don’t blindly go after a one-word domain just because it’s one word. It may be rarely used, it may simply not give off a strong notion of what the site will be or strong brandability otherwise, or it may be a solid word but in an extension that will stifle its effectiveness. Consider all your options and weigh them based on the many different benefits each name could offer you, not just word length.

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