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Marketable domain names getting hard to get

August 2, 2006

According to Dotster, a Vancouver, WA.-based domain registrar, registering a marketable dot-com domain name is getting more and more difficult, since there is now a serious shortage of good domain names in the .com extension. The situation is beginning to worry Web developers and others in the industry.

As of today, a little over seventy million dot-com domains have been registered. Overall, most one-word domains have been taken on a global basis, Dotster said in a statement.

"The shortage of marketable domain names has led consumers to select alternatives that are difficult for their potential visitors to remember, or do not adequately describe the brands," it noted. "These domain names result in a lack of robust traffic to the site, confirming customers' insecurities about the value of creating Web sites."

The worry over the availability of dot-com names comes from the extraordinary interest in the domain over the last 4 years, Dotster V.P. for Marketing George DeCarlo said.

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As a whole, from 2002 to 2004, dot-com registrations increased at a steady rate of four to five million new names a year. That actually doubled in in last year to eight million, and DeCarlo thinks it will double again this year, or balloon by sixteen million over 2010.

"The number of people registering dot-coms has just skyrocketed," DeCarlo said in a statement.

"There's definitely a shortage of usable domain names in the dot-com extension," said Antony Van Couvering, a principal in Names@Work, a Web consulting firm in New York City.

"If you wish to go to a different extension, then there's plenty of domains left", he added. "But because people normally put dot-com at the end of whatever they hear, that's what most people want to have."

If Internet users are concerned about getting good dot-com names, it hasn't deterred them from adding more monikers to the domain.

"We're seeing an interesting growth in the dot-com and dot-net names," Jill McNabb, senior manager in the naming services group for VeriSign. The company manages the dot-com and dot-net for the overseer of Web domains, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

"To me," McNabb continued, "that's evidence that domain name registrants are finding names that they want, and they're registering those names.

"In addition, they're renewing their names at a healthy rate as well, which, to me, is another indication that they're pleased with the names they're finding," she added.

She noted that the current renewal rate is 76 percent. "That's the highest that it's ever been," she said.

She commented that sellers of domain services, like Dotster, have helped relieve the crunch on dot-com names by introducing innovative products, like name-suggestion engines, and alternative domain options, such as dot-biz or dot-info.

DeCarlo, of Dotster, added that his company has improved its domain search capabilities by allowing users to simultaneously check multiple proposed domain names.

Dotster's suggestion engine, he continued, draws from the pool of expired domain names as well as proposing names from other domains.

For searchers who want to use generic words in their domain name, DeCarlo recommends looking into country domains. "VC is an example of a TLD [Top Level Domain] that has plenty of generic words available in it," he observed. VC is the domain for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Country domains are also a good way to get the Internet equivalent of a low-number license plate -- three and four-letter domain names.

All the three-letter dot-com domains are gone, DeCarlo said, and of the some 456,000 four-letter combinations, only 97,000 remain.

What the shortage in usable dot-com names has done is create an aftermarket in domain names, maintained consultant Van Couvering. "A lot of names have been registered now once or twice and are simply passed from one party to another on the basis of a sale," he said.

"From a real estate standpoint, domains are only going to continue to increase in value, especially as the scarcity of names drives the value of existing domains up," added Dotster's DeCarlo.

Source: eCommerce Times

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