Welcome to another article in our series on domain name investing. In this lesson we’re going to take a look at the importance of choosing the right second-level domains (SLDs), and the variations that exist out there.
If you’ve ever wondered what the ‘google’ in google.com or the ‘amazon’ in amazon.com is, you’re about to find out. These are examples of second-level domains, and they’re a crucial part of the internet’s addressing scheme.
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What is a Second-Level Domain?
In simple terms, a second-level domain (SLD) is the name just to the left of the domain extension, like .com or .net. For instance, in the website google.com, the word ‘google’ is the SLD.
The SLD is the first point of contact internet users have with your website. It’s the most memorable part of a URL and therefore the most important. In fact, domain investors also refer to second level domains as Keywords.
Why Second-Level Domains Matter
Second-level domains play a pivotal role in establishing your online presence and identity. It not only enhances brand recognition and user experience but also contributes to search engine optimization.
Let’s dive in deeper on how the optimal SLD can contribute to the success of your business or website.
Branding and Recognition
The second-level domain (SLD) is a critical component of your online presence because it’s where your brand lives on the internet.
If you’re a business, company, or organization, it’s ideal to have an SLD that matches your brand name exactly. This consistency helps to reinforce your brand identity and makes it easier for customers to find you online.
For instance, if your business is named ‘Blue Widgets’, a domain like ‘www.bluewidgets.com’ would be ideal.
Memorable and Easy to Type
If you’re in the process of establishing a new brand, and choosing a domain to launch a website, it’s crucial to select an SLD that is both memorable and easy to type.
A memorable domain name can help your website stand out in the minds of potential customers, increasing the likelihood that they will return to your site.
Similarly, a domain name that is easy to type reduces the potential for errors when users are trying to reach your site, making it more accessible and user-friendly.
For instance, a domain like ‘www.quickfix.com’ is both easy to remember and to type.
Corresponding to Services
As already mentioned, your SLD is an integral part of your online identity. It would therefore be ideal if it also corresponded to the services or products you offer. This is more important if you don’t have strong brand recognition, or if you are relying on SEO search mainly to get leads.
This alignment can help users understand what your website is about before they even visit it, and it can also improve your site’s ranking in search engine results for relevant keywords.
For example, if you run a bakery, an SLD like ‘www.freshbakedbread.com’ immediately communicates what you offer and can help attract customers looking for that type of product.
As hinted to above, SLDs that include keywords related to your business can also have SEO benefits. Search engines like Google, and Bing, consider the domain name as a significant factor when determining the relevance of a site to a search query.
Therefore, having keywords in your second-level domain can potentially improve your site’s search engine rankings, making it easier for potential customers to find you.
Trust and Credibility
Finally, a well-chosen SLD can help establish trust and credibility with your audience. A domain that clearly represents your business and is free of hyphens and numbers is often seen as more trustworthy and legitimate.
This perception can be particularly important for new businesses that are trying to establish themselves in a competitive market.
So, we hope you appreciate now that the importance of an appropriate second level domain cannot be overstated, and it’s definitely worth investing the time, thought and cash, to choose an SLD that accurately represents your business and will resonate with your target audience.
How to Choose the Right Second-Level Domain
Here are some tips to help you make the right choice when selecting a second level domain.
Keep it Short and Simple: A shorter SLD is easier to remember and less prone to typos. Try to keep it under 15 characters if possible.
Make it Relevant: Your SLD should be relevant to your business or the content of your website. This helps users understand what your site is about before they even visit it.
Avoid Hyphens and Numbers: These can confuse users and make your domain harder to remember. Stick to letters whenever possible.
Check Availability: Before you get your heart set on a particular SLD, make sure it’s available. You can use a domain name registrar to check this. My personal favorite is Namecheap.
Consider SEO: Including keywords related to your business in your SLD can help improve your search engine rankings.
Second-Level Domains and Domain Investing
The domain investing business model relies on buying domain names at a low cost and selling them at a higher price. That’s quite standard for any business, but we mention this because the second-level domain (SLD) plays a crucial role in this business model.
The SLD is the most visible and memorable part of the domain name and therefore it is the keyword in the SLD that will make a domain name valuable or not, followed by the extension type, with a .com being the most valuable.
So, the right SLD combined with the best extension, can be worth a lot of money. For example, the SLD ‘insurance’ combined with the extension .com, sold for $35.6 million in 2010.
Here are some tips on what to look for when considering an SLD for domain investing purposes:
The second level domain should ideally be brandable. This means it should be unique, catchy, and easy to remember.
A brandable domain name can significantly increase the value of the domain in the eyes of potential buyers, especially if they are looking to use the domain for a business or personal brand.
Having an SLD that includes popular keywords can be beneficial. This is because keyword-rich domain names can potentially rank higher in search engine results. This makes them more attractive to businesses looking to improve their online visibility.
For example, if you’re investing in domains related to the tech industry, an SLD like ‘TechGuru’ could be valuable.
With regards to keywords, keep an eye out for market trends. What industries are growing? What keywords are popular? These trends can help you identify potentially valuable SLDs before others find them.
Short and Simple
Short and simple second level domains are generally more desirable. They are easier to remember and less prone to typos.
Keep in mind that typos can lead to lost web traffic, or even worse to traffic going to competitors, especially if a competing business buys the typo domain and redirects it to their own website.
It is very common for certain words to be misspelled consistently by many users. You can find how many people misspell words in search engines by using one of the many SEO tools, such as AHRefs.
There are domain investors who buy domains based on a misspelled second level domain when they see there is a trend of many people typing the name wrongly and re-selling this domain to the highest bidders.
However, these are one-offs. The general rule, for domain investors, is to aim for SLDs that are concise, easy to spell, and easy to pronounce.
Avoid Numbers and Hyphens
Numbers and hyphens can often lead to confusion and are generally less desirable in domain names. For example, a potential visitor might not know whether they need to spell out the number or use the numeral, or even mistake the order of the numbers.
I remember a couple of guys who made a small fortune when they bought the domain Bet356.com. This second level domain was a play on the very popular betting brand ‘Bet365’.
Due to the large number of people typing in bet356 in search engines, instead of bet365, these two guys got a lot of leads to their website instead of the original brand.
With regards to hyphens within SLDs, it is very common for people to forget to include the hyphen. Once again this would lead them to a different website, which in most cases would belong to a competing brand..
Consider Local Domains
If you’re targeting a specific geographical market, consider SLDs that include the name of the city, state, or country, coupled with both a generic extension, such as .com, or a country-specific extension such as .co.uk, or .au.
These can be particularly valuable for local businesses looking to establish a strong online presence in their area.
Research Potential Legal Issues
Before investing in an SLD, it’s important to ensure that it’s not trademarked, copyrighted, or being used by another company.
A second level domain that is trademarked will be useless for anyone, because the trademark owner will always have the right to take it down. So if you don’t do a legal background check you could end up with legal issues that could cost you a lot of money and potentially your domain.
Good SLDs tend to get snapped up quickly. If you find an available SLD that meets all your criteria, it’s usually a good idea to register it as soon as possible to prevent someone else from getting it first.
Remember, the value of a domain name is subjective and largely depends on the right buyer coming along. Therefore, patience and a good understanding of the market are key to success in domain investing.
Types of Second Level Domains
As mentioned above, the second-level domain (SLD) can be seen as a keyword. In this context, understanding the six different types of keywords is crucial as they influence the resale value of domain names.
The six major types of keyword domain names are Generic, Exact-match, Brandable, Acronym, Numeric, and Alphanumeric.
Let’s look at each one of these types of SLDs.
1. Brand Keywords
Brand keywords are the names of businesses or products. They are unique second level domain names that distinguish a particular company or product from others.
For example, in the domain name ‘www.apple.com’, Apple is the brand keyword. Using a brand keyword in a domain name can help to increase brand visibility and recognition.
2. Generic Keywords
Generic keywords are common words that describe a product, service, or industry. They are often used by businesses that want to attract a broad audience.
For example, in the domain name ‘www.books.com’, books is a generic keyword that describes the type of products sold on the website. Generic keywords can help to improve a website’s search engine ranking for those terms.
3. Geographic Keywords
Geographic keywords are SLDs with the names of locations such as cities, states, or countries. They are often used by businesses that want to target a specific geographic market.
For example, in the domain name ‘www.newyorkpizza.com’, NewYork is a geographic keyword that indicates the location of the business.
Geographic keywords can help to attract local customers and improve local search engine rankings.
4. Descriptive Keywords
Descriptive keywords are words that describe the characteristics or features of a product or service. They are often used by businesses that want to highlight a unique selling proposition.
For example, in the domain name ‘www.fastdelivery.com’, fastdelivery is a descriptive keyword that describes the service provided by the business.
Descriptive second level domains can help to attract customers who are looking for specific features or benefits, but are mainly used for SEO purposes. Such as ‘bestcreditcards.com’.
5. Target Audience Keywords
Target audience keywords are words that describe a specific demographic or customer group.
These second level domains are often used by businesses that want to attract a specific type of customer.
For example, in the domain name ‘www.maternityclothes.com’, maternity is a target audience keyword that indicates the type of customers the business is targeting.
6. Industry Jargon Keywords
Industry jargon keywords are words or phrases that are commonly used within a specific industry or profession.
These type of second level domains are often used by businesses that want to establish credibility and authority within their industry.
For example, in the domain name ‘www.cloudcomputing.com’, cloudcomputing is an industry jargon keyword that is specific to the IT industry.
Industry jargon keywords can help to attract a professional audience and improve search engine rankings for industry-specific terms.
Understanding the importance and types of second-level domains is a crucial step in mastering the art of domain selection. The SLD you choose can not only impact your online presence, but as we’ve seen, it can also be a valuable asset for a domain investor.
By understanding what second level domains are, and how to choose the right one, you can make more informed decisions and potentially find the best domain name for your portfolio or to launch your new brand.
However, choosing an effective SLD is just one piece of the puzzle. A truly valuable domain name encompasses more than just a memorable second-level domain.
In our next article we will take a look at what is a top-level domain.
Following that, we delve deeper into the characteristics of a good domain name. There are quite a few characteristics that need to be considered to arrive at a valuation for a domain name.
For the full list of knowledge articles head on to our Domains Investment Hub.