Web - - By Tony Bury

Dot Biz or Dot Com?

Now that over 25 million dot-com, dot-net and dot-org domain names have been registered, it is becoming harder and harder to find a good domain name. Yet a good domain name is essential for effective Website promotion. When a customer selects a Website to visit, it is frequently the one with the most credible domain name that wins. A relevant domain name tells the customer that the site is one of the main players in the market, and if it is memorable then half the battle is won. At the other extreme, a sub-domain name at a free hosting service is a definite turn off.

What’s the Solution?

In order to alleviate the problem, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has finally selected seven new top-level domains for individuals and businesses. The domains selected are .INFO for general use, .BIZ for businesses, .NAME for personal name registrations, .PRO for professionals, .MUSEUM for museums, .COOP for cooperative businesses and .AERO for the air transport. However the process is not complete. ICANN aims to complete the negotiation of contracts with the sponsor of each new domain by the end of the year, and hopes that names in the new domains will be available to register in the second quarter of 2001. However the selection process has provoked a storm of controversy and some of the losing applicants, who each paid a $50,000 non-refundable fee, are likely to sue ICANN.

If the objective was to relieve the crowded dot-com namespace, it certainly seems a strange collection of TLDs. Dot-Info is the only one that is available for unrestricted use and it seems questionable that this prize should have been given to Afilias, a group made up of companies already dominant in the domain name business, including Network Solutions. Dot-Biz will be restricted to established businesses and a likely initial fee of around $2,000 from NeuLevel will be a further deterrent. Dot-Pro for professionals and Dot-Name for personal names are useful additions, but the decision to give the air transport industry a domain of their own just seems bizarre. Surely Dot-Travel would have been more useful? Museums, too, will be happy to have their own domain, but in comparison, the huge demand for commercial domain names almost seems to have been ignored! What is there for Internet start-up ventures that do not qualify as established businesses? Surely not Dot-Info? If you are selling something, info just does not sound right. TLDs such as Dot-Web, Dot-Shop, Dot-Firm and Dot-Site would probably have done much more to relieve the competition for Dot-Com domains.

So, Which is Better?

So if you have a business looking for an Internet presence, should you wait for a Dot-Biz name, or should you look for that elusive Dot-Com name?

The attraction of the new domain is that for a while it will be easier to find a short, memorable name. The best test of a good domain name is the radio test. If you heard the URL advertised on the radio, would you still remember it when you got home? It is often said that a domain name should be short, but it is actually more important that it is both memorable and easy to spell.

However, a Dot-Com name will still carry considerable benefits over a Dot-Biz name. For some time a business with a Dot.Biz name will be instantly recognizable as a new Internet venture whereas a Dot-Com name will tend to suggest an established Internet presence. In the current climate of Internet business failures, that is an important consideration. Then there is the fact that today s Web browsers are geared up to recognize Dot-Com. For example if you type RedHotDomainNames into most current browsers without worrying about the www or the .com, you will end up at http://www.RedHotDomainNames.com. For some time to come Dot-Com will still be the most desirable domain.

Where Can You Find a Good Dot-Com?

It is still occasionally possible to find a good unregistered dot-com name, but it takes hours and hours of searching and an awful lot of luck. However, there is one source of good domain names that is actually getting better all the time, and that source is the thousands of domain names that expire each week. Expired domain names are domain names that were previously registered, but have been allowed to lapse by the original registrant. These domain names are then repossessed by the registrar and made available again for anyone to register.

Many of the domain names that are being allowed to expire now were registered two years ago when it was easy to find a good name. There are many reasons why the owner allows registration to lapse, but often it is simply that they have never got around to using the name and have lost interest in it. The quality of expired domain names has improved dramatically over the last year or so, and these domain names now quite simply offer some of the best opportunities on the Web today.

As an example of the sort of names that are available, the following expired domain names were all recently available to register:

  • AirFaresNet.com
  • ClassicClothes.com
  • FabulousPresents.com
  • DomainSensations.com
  • MortgageMegastore.com
  • OnlineTicketShop.com
  • PerfectInvestment.com
  • PrimeWebSpace.com
  • SportsGoodsStore.com
  • SuperbShopping.com
  • TheXmasGift.com
  • XmasToyShop.com

There are a number of expired domain lists available by email subscription, some of which can be purchased and some of which are free. They typically break down into two categories. Firstly there are weekly lists of all the new expired domain names added to the provider’s database. These lists are usually very long, but have the disadvantage of containing meaningless names and other people’s misspellings that were registered by mistake. Lists in the second category provide currently available expired domain names that contain selected keywords or that have been compiled manually. These lists usually contain much better quality names, but you have to wait for the provider to research the words you are interested in.

Expired domain name lists are available from the following providers:

Once you have subscribed to some of the available lists, the important thing is to be quick off the mark when it comes to registering a name, as the most popular names in the lists will go fast. However, with more lists available, and more domain names expiring, it is actually becoming easier to register an expired domain name. So why not give it a try, and see if you can revive your fortune with an expired domain name?