I had a lunch meeting (over pho, no less) with a good friend the other day. He also happens to be a colleague and client, but such is how many of these relationships pan out when you embrace the dot com lifestyle and the notion of work-life integration rather than work-life balance. Your best friends are also your best business partners, but I digress.
Over the course of our conversation, our discussion turned to finding the right domain for the various web projects we may have. He’s in the process of writing and publishing a new e-book, so he said that he was going to get a domain just for the book. That way, there’s a dedicated space where he can put up a landing page to help generate direct sales. Accompanying the book, he wants to set up a separate space where he can provide resources and hopefully sell training to accompany what readers may learn from the book.
The problem, as he very quickly discovered, is that “all of the .com domains are already taken.” Of course, he said this with tongue planted firmly in cheek, since there are theoretically an infinite number of .com domains available, but what he meant was that he was having a hard time finding a “good” domain with a .com extension.
As with most other Internet entrepreneurs, he wanted a domain that was memorable, brandable, keyword-rich, and relatively short. That’s tough and he started to think whether it was worthwhile to look into other TLDs.
His primary business is already a .net and he started to wonder whether his online business would have been that much more successful or would have gotten to the level it is more quickly if he had opted for a .com domain instead. That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?
My line of thinking, as I expressed to him, was thus: It goes without saying that a .com is generally more preferable to a .net, a .org, or any other TLD, because it is the gold standard. You generally want to avoid regional TLDs unless your content is very region-specific. Unless your site is really *only* for Canadians, you probably don’t want a .ca domain. It immediately alienates non-Canadians.
This being said, the nature of the Internet has changed dramatically in the last ten years. When I first got started with freelance writing and professional blogging full time, many people still typed addresses manually into their web browsers. Some people still do, upon occasion, but these days, users are far more likely to click on a link through social media or to type a search into Google to get where they want.
As a result, owning the .com domain isn’t *as* important as it once was, as you don’t have to deal with as many people typing in an address manually and entering the .com extension as a matter of standardized preference. There likely is very little difference between people who would click on a search engine result on a .com domain as on a .net domain.
You also have to consider just how many more TLDs are available today that could be even more specific to your niche or industry. You can get these from a number of sites, including GoDaddy, HostGator and Namecheap. These could potentially be even better for branding if used correctly and strategically.
At the end of the day, you can neither attribute your success to landing a good .com domain nor blame your lack of success on using a .net or .org or some other domain extension for your website instead. If the choice is between a .com domain that’s way too long and hard to remember or a shorter, more brandable .net, you’re probably better off with the latter.
Of course, there’s always the reseller market and if you’re willing to spend enough money, there’s always the “perfect” .com domain available for sale. After all, striving to live the dot com lifestyle as a dot com mogul just sounds better than living the dot net lifestyle as a dot net entrepreneur, wouldn’t you say?