The #1 Thing I Look for and the ONE Question I Ask When Picking a Domain Name

Morning Folks!!

Labor Day!! Start your engines!!

The #1 thing I look for is not always what I get but it certainly is my target. I have the luxury of not following my own rules as I chase tomorrow in a 'Social' way. But here is the tiny little secret that will change how you look at and buy domain names.

The simple question is: 'If I had this domain and ONLY this domain, could I figure out how to make a living from it?' That's my test. It's so simple. And when the answer is yes and the price is right, I buy that domain name. Simple. It's my guiding light. My north star. When all else fails and I have this one domain, can I make a living?

When you do that, you really can't lose. But you still have to know what a business is. You still have to have an idea. You still have to make a mousetrap that catches profit. But the first thing you need is a domain name. A domain name that when standing by itself makes a statement, is a brand and clearly says what you do.

That's the primary method behind my madness. Go ahead, tell me how wrong I am. Cherry pick names out of my portfolio that don't meet the test. Do whatever losers do and focus on anything other than the simplest way to pick a domain name and almost never lose. Oh yeah, stick with a dot com.

Let me make it crystal clear. When you use a non dot com you will always be working harder for less. PERIOD! There will always be an invisible loss of sales and profits. PERIOD! There will always be some level of confusion. PERIOD! There will always be a cloud hanging over your business that a bad decision was made along the way and until they get the .com it won't be fixed. It is a business faux paux of the greatest magnitude. Just like hard to spell domains or cutsey domains.

Sorry, but I don't look at it thru the prism of a domainer. I look at it thru the prism of the business owner, the startup, the consumer, the eyes of human nature. I look at it as how does one differentiate themselves without confusing them in a more and ore crowded playing field. No matter how many websites are out there now, millions will be added this week alone. See when everyone is on their own soap box yelling ME! ME! ME! how do you get the attention of consumers? It gets more and more difficult. As that happens the domain is what goes up in value because it is one of the biggest things to elevate you over the rest. End user that is. That is the prism I look thru. The guy on Main Street. The guy in the middle of nowhere. The consumer most of all.

More importantly, the average consumer that folks aim for are not rocket scientists. They have an average 6th-8th grade education level. The masses! So you must keep it simple. Finally, all the sales and marketing laws off the net apply on the net. Supply and Demand still runs the whole thing. Sales and Profits are still the epicenter. No sales equals no business. Need, Want, Desire.

Have a GREAT Labor Day!

Rick Schwartz

40 thoughts on “The #1 Thing I Look for and the ONE Question I Ask When Picking a Domain Name

  1. NucNac

    You comment about making sure you have the .com reminds me of those strip mall restaurants that keep opening in the same spot only to fail in a year or two. Then comes another sucker because the”lease price is right”.
    This is the equivalent of someone settling on a great keyword in a .net or .info and trying to make a go of it. Success can be had but more work is necessary to get attention, retain customers, etc..
    These restaurants are always fighting for”traffic”, just like on inferior domain names. They’d of been much better either keeping their money in their wallet or stepping up to the best damn property in their area to make a go at it.
    It’s like Ray Croc said to some Harvard students once,”I don’t sell hamburgers, I sell real estate”, since McDonalds only buys the best real estate. Basically, what he said was it really does not matter what you sell as long as you have the best property for it. If you do success is just that much easier.
    If you have the best property around you can probably sell snow cones and still”make it”, whereas a totally awesome restaurant in a crappy location is usually screwed.

  2. Dave Pelligrinelli

    ” I don’t look at it thru the prism of a domainer. I look at it thru the prism of the business owner, the startup, the consumer, the eyes of human nature.”
    That sums it all up. All of the domaining advice boils down to that.

  3. Uzoma

    This is why I am building
    The domain market place for business start-ups and consumers. Domainers will be barred from buying and selling there. We will have link-up with county registrars and state secretaries of state, to help folks acquire true names that can help them do business. No”domainer” bullshit geared at Google ad sense. Real names for real business people. It will launch in about 30 days. Domainers will sell at Sedo, but true name experts will transact business at Exclusively for serious names.

  4. Anunt

    Uzoma, domenclature name really really sucks.
    I have a domain for you… and…only $2,000 USD …and your in business.

  5. BullS

    That why if everyone of you just not reg dot whatever and drop all the dot whatever, the price of dot com will go up.
    dot com is king
    Plain and simple..stupid!!

  6. Uzoma

    I thsnk you for the suggestion. However, where do you think say Ford Motor Co, will buy a domain for a division, from or from Bear in mind that”Nomenclature” is the system of naming. I submit my case.

  7. Dumb Name is a silly name. Nice try with your spam post. I love how people do this on blogs. It ain’t workin, pal, and the name is terrible.

  8. Dumb Name

    See, I didn’t even type it correctly. is terrible. I kinda proved it by not even being able to type it 2 seconds after seeing it.

  9. BillW

    I’m not so crazy about that name either. It probably would not pass Ricks”radio test” not to mention a bit tricky to spell and not a memorable name at first sight because its a ‘made up’ word.

  10. Show us the money..

    Its right obviously. But I’d go further and say it should be a domain that you have a realistic chance and motivation to actually enter that business area. I don’t actually believe that .com is always the best in absolute terms simply because in nations like the UK the is better for domestic based businesses at the right price. (Generally physical based goods rather than .com being better in informational and web based publishing content).
    I.e. I’d rather own than etc for the same cost price.

  11. Show us the money..

    Lol, I spelled stationery wrong so thats probably a reason not to buy….

  12. Uzoma

    I hope Domainers don’t spell right because we don’t want”know-it-all” domainers with tunnel vision on our new venture. We want end users trying to make it in this world. We are not into Google, we are into people with money, funding, start-ups, people with a vision and an idea. It’s funny, even Sedo that you are crazy about has a name that is branded; Sedo is not known as or domain, or, they are known as Sedo, yet you sell your domains for shit over there. We are not a Domainer to Domainer oufit. We are going where the end users are. We will screen the names that can make a company successful. If we come across names for domainers, we will send it to Sedo or other brainwahsed goons. ** launching October, 2012.

  13. SerryJW

    Uzoma, Personally I would try and buy DOMAINCLATURE.COM. If you are going to play on words, let everyone know what biz you’re in.

  14. Uzoma

    It’s a trade-Off, the clientele we are aiming for will appreciate our name much better than We thought about it, for a total of five seconds. And chose
    (D)omain plus (N)omenclature =
    We want the name to be the first screening for educated buyers. People that can appreciate a little wit and ingenuity. There are enough”domain-prefix” names out there already. We think of ourselves as different. Upper scale. We are solely interested in Asset Purchasing agents for companies, or serious entrepreneurs; CEOs, managers, and the like. Besides, it’s our inventory, services, and hard work that will thrust the brand. Like they say, we are powered by wit.

  15. Anunt

    Uzoma, stop wasting time and money.
    I will bet you that your domenclatre will fail.
    We can put the money in
    To make this bet more exciting, I will put 5 times more money in
    If you bet $1000, I will put $5,000 in escrow.

  16. BillW

    I would say you have tunnel vision. Maybe you don’t like the advice here but so far no one has voiced support for your choice of domain names.
    Also, your statement”Domainers will be barred from buying and selling there.” is a dis-service to not only the customers you hope to serve but may hinder your b2b opportunities. Anyway, you seem to have lots of enthusiasm so good luck.

  17. Steve

    I am looking for a domain name myself and this article is very helpful. dot com is valued more than the other extensions, probably because of the familiarity. I think it all comes down to marketing, but it helps to have the domain name explain the business nature.
    Since I am looking out for webhost domain names, I cannot figure out how much to spend and which provide best value of my dollar. My budget is about 1k max, any suggestions? Is the worth 5 grand?!
    who sets the value for a domain name? thanks

  18. Uzoma

    First of all, have you heard about Here, let me tell you about them:
    About Accenture
    Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 249,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2011.
    So, is not that strange sounding in corporate world.
    Secondly, Anunt I don’t want to take your money that easily.
    BillyW the domainers I’m talking about are those that wont listen to advice from people like domain king. Read the article above, and notice the game is all geared toward end user. Some name you can make a living from. Dot com! My name qualifies for all these, yet”domainers” are kicking it LOL! Go check out the site as it’s going up rapidly…we’re meeting with 8 chamber of commerce orgs. next week. — powered by wit

  19. Business Show ….say what. I hand registered namepartners/com last week and i think it has a brighter future than some hybrid brandable. However i wish you luck

  20. BillW

    This is not a logical comparison! Accenture is the former Arthur Anderson and Company, a billion dollar accounting company that was already well established with thousands of customers. Easier for them to rebrand and build on with their massive size and marketing.
    Your a start up…and you can get a better .com brand. That’s all I’m saying. Besides that, I wish you good success!!

  21. steve

    I am ready to buy all domains once you people get done reading this article.
    Your domains are worthless as you now know and I am willing to still buy them from you.
    So bring me the domains and get your cash!

  22. The Other Adam

    @Uzoma. Don’t mind the name but your branding also involves your site. You won’t get far with that website. Good luck though.
    @steve is worth whatever you’re willing to pay for it. I wouldn’t pay $5k but I’m also not in the market for a domain/brand for a hosting company either.

  23. Uzoma

    You are right, it’s not a logical comparison, it’s identical!
    You are unwittingly, advancing my point. If a well established company chose my route, then they’ve already cut the trail for me. I only have to walk right through.
    Yes, I can get a better .COM true, but I’d rather sell it to my clients. If you have a better name than mines, list it with
    Remember what we have now: You buy your names from a crazy brand called, you park it with an even crazier branded company called, then you earn your ‘ad cents’ from the craziest of them all, Never mind that you are complaining about me on a branded blog called! LOL — powered by wit

  24. EmergingDomains

    Usually I read the comments, but I want to say, Outstanding article that educates us how to fish, instead of giving us fish, as you expressed one time on theDomains comments, when I demanded,”Help us.” Nice article. It’s been on my mind lately, too, as I pitched a COO via email a cool domain that had a whole game changing concept that would marry with the company’s current business model, with a time limit of September 21st. It wasn’t inspired by this particular post, because I already sent it off, but your words confirm what I was thinking to the point – what do you think about this?
    This domain is so good, the concept that the domain describes is so ground-breaking, I think I want to toss a copyright symbol onto the pitch! I think I should copyright the pitch. What do you think?

  25. Paul Omego

    I think you have a very big heart and idea of what you want to achieve,its about branding and standing out to meet the need of consumers and end users.
    There are so many crazy domain names out there,but they are doing big businesses and making good profits,people dont care about what and how their names look like in all cases,What is important is the unique service and product you have for the consumers. Promotion,Sales and profits remains the main thing. You have already set the ball rolling.Good luck.

  26. Paul Omego

    Am happy to be among the readers of this your blog,it gives me more hope of good things ahead in my domain career.Thanks for sharing your valuable knowledge with us.Merci

  27. DNB2B

    And, not to digress from the main topic of the post, the consumer is what should be the focus of any business entity, as Rick keeps telling us all the time, but still many don’t get it!

  28. Jeff

    I usually ask a quite similar – but somehow even more simple and user-oriented – question to myself when I pick a domain name :”If I were starting a business in this field, would I be perfectly happy to name my business after this domain name ?” Hope I am on the right path.

  29. BillW

    I would ask”is the the ‘catagory killer’ name for my business”. Is it easy to remember, easy to spell, descriptive and will it generate type in business?
    If I can’t get that, what is 2nd best etc.

  30. Harry Joiner

    Bravo! Truly, this is a fantastic test. However, in order to make a really nice living on the back of one domain, sometimes it’s necessary to own other domains simply to preempt one’s competitors. For example, I do very well with But I also own,,, and others because I cannot afford to have my competitors acquire them. My personal competitive style is to win not only by having the biggest gun, but also by making sure that my enemies have no guns whatsoever.

  31. tommy butler

    Learn from others One person I know had domains” call it Collection” of 7000 domains, of these names not one was a generical keyword/product/geo location/ or services, they were as rick says Pigshite domains. Now I could have told this person that the names were bad, didnt really know him that well, spoken to him in one domain rooms, first he tried parking by several parking companys basically got no result. now that should tell you something your names dont get traffic. 5 years later guy still got names no earning Stuck in trap praying that one day someone will buy him out, he had to pack in the names due to lack of cash, he had started registering the names in 2000 so thats say average say $7.00 X 7000 x 12 = $588,000 Thats one hard lesson to learn.
    I spoke to guy after he dropped all names it nearly ruined him he asked me what thought of the names I said to be honest did not think they were worth anything at all. I really should said that at start as got know him. Thats why Like Ricks blog he tells it straigth. so hope someone learns from this.

  32. ShuwiX

    Rick, you sort of play your game to increase demand on high quality domains but …………….
    You’re god damn right.
    Picking bad domain is like building whole business on legs build of mud. It might not fall but it needs constant repairs.


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