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Opinion: 2-letter domain w uncommon ext, or 4-letter .NET

     
12:39 am on Sep 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My company has a 4-letter name... for the sake of discussion, let's call it ABCD. I started it in 2002, but someone bought the .COM of my company name in 1999 (ie, ABCD.com)... they have never used it, and will not reply to my email requests.

I own the .BIZ, .WS, and .CO of my domain, but obviously can't do much with them.

I recently found that I can buy the .NET of my company name (ie, ABCD.net), but it's not cheap. It's tempting, but there's still the concern that the owner of the .COM will launch a competing site and virtually bury me from people that think it's really me.

Last night, I discovered that there is an extension that matches the last 2 letters of my company name, and I may be able to buy AB.cd for about the same price as ABCD.net.

I find that interesting because it's very short, and the .CD extension is appropriate for my area so it should be easy to remember. Unless people don't immediately recognize it as a website address, or still see AB.CD and think ABCD.com.

What do you guys think? Would you buy and promote the ABCD.net, the 2-letter AB.cd... or neither?
1:43 am on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Preliminary question: Am I correct in assuming that your offering isn't unique? That is, you offer a product(s) or service(s) that many others offer OR are able to offer (mass produced, wholesale->retail, etc)?
2:12 am on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I always felt the website is much more significant than the domain name, especially nowadays with so many extensions.

I once owned them all, but they kept coming. I let most of them go, and now use the .net but still own the .com and one other misspelling version (both forward to the .net.)

Webwork asked an important question. If you sell a common product which is available at other sites, you may want to add that small level of uniqueness that a clever domain may give your branding.
2:23 am on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Well... it's hard to explain without stating the company name.

I have about 60 sites, all targeting localized regions. We're talking message boards, classifieds, event calendars, etc. So it's currently unique, but there has been competition in the past. Most die away pretty quickly, but they've tried.

If I merged all 60 sites in to a single site then marketing would be infinitely cheaper and easier; eg, I could buy 60 billboards with the same design for a lot cheaper than 60 billboards with all different names. Radio commercials could cover wider areas, I could run statewide TV campaigns, etc... it would all be a lot cheaper. Plus, there's a possibility that Adsense will consider a single site with 15 million pageviews to be worth more than 60 with an average of 250,000 pageviews each.

So while the site is currently unique, there's no reason why it would always necessarily remain so. And if one of those competitors were to somehow grab ABCD.com and I'm marketing ABCD.net, I would (a) look like a copycat, and (b) a significant number of the people that see my ads would go to ABCD.com instead of my actual site.
2:41 am on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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the .CD extension is appropriate for my area so it should be easy to remember.

is .cd a cctld or a gtld?
3:01 am on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I had to Google the difference... it's a ccTLD and the country still retains some control (the registrar is emailing the country to get permission to sell me the 2-letter domain).
3:03 am on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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... but it's just a coincidence the country that owns the extension matches my target demographic. My target is in the United States.
12:02 pm on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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So ..get the .cc ..leave the .net..
Dot nets really do not bring much traction if someone else has the . com..even if it is unused..
cc can be exploited and marketed..thinking all the .io domains..and Del.icio.us ..
2:51 pm on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Have you followed my advice to "put a cash offer in the subject line" of your email inquiries?

I'm not a big fan of ccTLD "cleverness" but I understand how it comes into play. I've also seen how the clever companies eventually come around and spend the money required to buy the .com when/before they start growing "big".

If thought is now or may be given to selling the company I'd get serious about closing on the .com. Reach out by all available means: snail mail, phone calls, etc. Get a good idea of the domain's value beforehand IF you choose to go this route. You might even employ one of the more reputable brokers. (DNJournal.com lists broker's sales and runs articles about the successful domain brokers.)
3:48 pm on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If the extension is what I think, you may also be subjected to certain GDPR considerations that you wouldn't normally need to worry about. Some small island nations are political regions of larger European nations.
3:51 pm on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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GDPR is not so much about where you are hosted, as where your visitor is from..hence US owned sites, hosted in the USA does not exempt one from being GDPR compliant if one allows visitors from the EU to access one's site
4:18 pm on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I don't want to side track this discussion but the site in question has localized audience that is targeted a region in US with no business or association in the EU. The site cannot be expected to be GDPR compliant for a few EU users that happen to land on the site. I am pretty confident that no court in US would ever uphold an EU judgment to the contrary, so GDPR is of no concern.

Now if the website is using EU ccTLD then that changes things, as there is now some business association with EU. In a worse case scenario the EU could get a judgment and then go to domain registrar and have the domain seized.

Advice, don't touch anything EU it is toxic, GDPR risk is way too high.
4:46 pm on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Advice, don't touch anything EU it is toxic

One of the most objectionable lines..that I've ever seen in a post..
The rest of the post is merely inaccurate..
5:57 pm on Sept 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Ummm . . . Gee . . . Fellas? Please put away the gas and matches. Thank you.
3:29 am on Sept 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If you are serious about it, you MUST have .com. I'd do this:

1 - write last email to the .com owner and tell him your best offer and that it will expire in one month.
2 - if no response, buy an alternative .com domain and move everything there.
5:19 am on Sept 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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About 2 years ago, I sent both an email and a post letter, offering $100,000 for the domain. I wasn't even positive I could get approved for the loan, but this was my last ditch effort.

No reply.

Now, the WHOIS information is hidden (all I know is that it's registered with Register.com), so I don't even know if the same guy owns it. He could be dead for all I know! But the domain was last updated on Feb 26 2018 and expires on Jan 25 2020, so I'm kinda guessing that the owner almost let it lapse in February and caught it right before losing it. So there's a chance that I could snipe it in 2020, but there's no guarantee. And my business is seriously struggling with the Adsense values dropping so hard, so I honestly don't know if I can wait another year to find out!

I wish I could explain the company name here, my conundrum would make a lot more sense :-( I've seriously tried to come up with a new company name for about 10 years, though, and nothing really works. This squatter has me over a barrel for what appears to be no reason.

I own the ABCD for .co, .cc, .ws, .biz, as well as ABCDInc.com and ABCDNetwork.com, but none of them are really marketable. I think I own some of the other obsure extensions, too, but I don't mess with them, either. I'd hoped that the .co might take off when Overstock.com was promoting O.co, but that didn't last long so now I'm not comfortable promoting the .co, either.

Regarding the GDPR... this is something that crossed my mind, but I honestly don't know the logistics of it. My target audience is strictly in the US, and I even block most non-US IP addresses at the firewall. The country that owns the domain extension is a French territory in the South Pacific, so I don't know if the GDPR applies to them, or if it would apply to me by owning a domain from them?
6:16 am on Sept 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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While I can feel your pain, I think you might be short-sighted in what can be done.

If the NAME is that important, then do all you can to make it a BRAND (trademark and all that happy stuff) and THEN (one year, two years from now) go after that squatter and TAKE it away via ICANN and other established methods.

OR,

Do something more proactive in creating yet a DIFFERENT branding and go from there.

A name is a name, just like a rose is a rose. Make it smell sweet and go from there.

I can't say how many times I've suggested this to fixated clients before, but can say that four (4) of them heard me and made the change, and are living large and healthy right now.

Best revenge on squatters is to ignore them. Do something DIFFERENT.
2:04 pm on Sept 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I like .net, and it can be as successful as any .com, however if it's not cheap then I wouldn't go down that route.

I'd re-brand under a new .com and steadily push all exisiting sites into the new one over a 6-12 months period, obviously this would depend upon just how many pages there are to 301, however it can be done extremely efficiently when organised properly. I did that last September/Ocober with two sites from cctld to .com, admitedly only 1,000 pages each, however it went extremely well and as clean as a whistle.

There is a huge quantity of 4/5 letter .coms available at very low cost.
12:35 am on Mar 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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As cliffhangers go, this beats 'who shot JR'.