What I’ve learnt about the UK domain space

I am still learning everyday about domains, dropcatching & developing. At some point I’ll probably do a post that details the process to catching UK domains, costs and what’s involved but for now I’ll just share my main thoughts on what I’ve learnt generally on domaining and specifically the .co.uk extension.

1. If you want to rank in Google.co.uk (which is much easier to do than .com) you really do need to get a .co.uk  …. simple as that, I know you can throw 100 examples of good ranking info’s com’s net’s and org’s but in my experience it makes life so much easier. Yes webmaster central lets you specify that your domain/site is UK targeted but again in my experience that’s about as useful as a one-legged man at an arse kicking contest, get the country specific domain if your outside the US.

2. Not all one word domains are valuable or the holy grail, doesn’t matter what extension we are talking about. I’d much rather have a 2 word product domain like patiofurniture.co.uk than a one word domain like curved.co.uk

3. Domains need to serve a purpose and they are generally only worth something if there is either a clear development opportunity for them in a brandable way, so something like sailingworld.co.uk works for me as very brandable and describes itself well, or if they are keyword rich and searched for like Genes.co.uk, domains like pissypants.co.uk or shoeshere.co.uk are worth zero, if you add two or three dictionary words together that does not an excellent domain make, not to say you couldn’t develop them to build traffic and add value but as a domain with nothing else value =£0

4. You have to develop out, really you do. If you have dabbled in development,seo or affiliate sales you would be in a much better position to get into domaining than those that went straight there. Domainers are lazy, it’s much easier to call them visionary if you work in domain circles, or you can call them lucky if you were too buy getting drunk and laid in the 90’s to see the opportunities that other’s did not.

For the most part they are not lucky, they are perhaps a bit visionary, but most definitely lazy. Happy to deal in bulk rather than build something unique. The thought of dealing with multiple people, scripts, hosting, logo’s and ideas puts a shudder through many and they resort to the domainers favourite line which is “for sale as no time to develop due to too many other project on”

Large portfolio domain owners want the pay-off without having to invest in building anything and for the most part in the UK domain space this doesn’t work too well, having developed in just a tiny way can add more than 100% to the value of the domain, those domainers with prime generic domains and product specific one’s that have them parked are not going to make a loss but they are also not going to make as much as they possibly could. That in itself offers opportunities for some to offer to help develop and share the spoils.

5. It’s not too late, it’s not too late, it’s not too late.
That’s a really sorry excuse for more laziness, it’s great fun reading blogs and news stories of large sales and mergers, they should motivate you, for many people it’s just an excuse to use that other well used line, “I wish I was there registering names for £10 and selling them 10 years later but it’s too late now, all the best domains are gone”

Of course all the best domains are gone but that doesn’t mean it’s too late, unlike other domain extensions .co.uk domains get dropped when they expire which means there is a slim chance you could catch the odd decent one with the proper research and time invested. Not an easy or cheap route but it is there.

You can read technology blogs and look to register future domains for reg fee as longer term investments, develop them out with news and information as it happens and you’ll be the one people call lucky in 10 years time, but they’ll also probably feel it’s too late and they missed the boat when they look at what you did.

A 3rd option is to buy from domain owners, just like land, stocks and shares the value of domains changes through the years and you can buy in at a certain level and cash out later without being the original owner, some owners are aware of this some are not. Doing keyword research with tools like Google’s keyword tool makes life far easier to get inspiration. Sure it would be nice to have been the guy that registered a domain in 1995 for a few quid and sold a decade later for tens of thousands but that doesn’t mean the party is over.

It takes a lot more emails and letters but there are an infinite amount of domains being neglected by limited companies in Administration that you could approach, take a domain like Youngsters.co.uk, owned by Youngsters Ltd which you can check in the whois, you can check Youngsters Ltd at Companies House who have details on every Limited company in the UK and see that they are in fact in Administration. So that domain will likely drop next year but you could contact the liquidator or administrator to see if you could buy it direct, not an easy path but an option.

Domainers often do not advertise their portfolio, if you check the main forums and see other established/experienced domainers you should send them a private message, see if they sell and if they do ask for their list, generally you will never get prices so you need to scan through the lists and looks for domains that interest you, I did this and found PhotoFrame.co.uk which I offered £1400 for and bought, I have since had 2 offers one last week at just under £5000 so you can buy direct and still make a profit if that’s your goal, you can also contact domain owners this often involves a lot of detective work seeing as UK domain whois does not include an email address. This can be really rewarding.

6. There is something for every budget, when it comes to domains, templates, content and even websites there is something for every budget if you are prepared to invest time rather than money looking it. 

7. It’s small! The UK domain space is pretty small, the same names pop up everywhere.
Your name and reputation can be your biggest asset, do deals with various people pay well on time and act conscientiously. Don’t bid on domains or sites you don’t have the money in the bank for. If you cross someone well linked in this domain space you’ll burn many a bridge, remember one day you may need help or advice and there are plenty willing to give it if you have a good reputation.

 8. Go Generic, sure there will always be people who prefer to brand or find it cheaper and easier to register say… PhilsBoats.co.uk rather than Boats.co.uk but in the long run your ability to drive traffic, stay memorable, add value and defend your position will always be strengthened by the securing the generic term at the start, you’ll only regret it later and it will only ever get more expensive.

9. Prices will rise, there will always be a huge divide between the few top generics and the masses of middle and lower quality domains but overall prices have risen and will continue to do so, we have seen more of the high 5 and low 6 figure sales in the last 12 months which is good. Domains that will sell for £20k+ in 5 years time are available to buy today for £1k-£5k. Look back a couple of years at the sales here and I am sure you’ll see some bargains, Candles.co.uk for £1500! That process will constantly repeat itself as we move forward and some of today’s domains bought for a respectable £1000 will soon seem like rare gemstones.

10. You can’t push UK domains, an obvious one for many but easy to fall foul of if your new, you may use a registrar like Godaddy to register your domain, they can even update your address or postcode but to change the registrant who owns the domain you HAVE TO GO TO NOMINET, sellers could push the domain management from their account to your at a registrar but you will not own the domain unless you go through Nominet and update the Registrant details.

These are just my own person thoughts and opinions, as with any investment there are risks.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Scott, you’re th reason that I even own UK domains. So far I haven’t been doing much development but I now own the domains and that is the first step.

    And I agree that it is so much easier to find a good UK domain than it is to find a .com.

  2. awesome post Scott – already glad I’ve subscribed.

  3. Seriously excellent points there expecially #5 one. Bookmarked this post for future referances.

    Amit Bhawani’s last blog post..Dell Studio 17 Laptop Review

  4. Scott – this is a great post;a refreshing and realistic look at the UK namespace.

  5. I love that: “domainers favourite line which is for sale as no time to develop due to too many other project on”. I have actually said it before myself when I was in a hurry to do everything at once haha. Great domain prices back in Jan 2006 as well, looks like its too late now 😉

    Chris’s last blog post..On BBC C&W Radio This Morning

  6. Great post as always thanks!

  7. I have noticed that having a country specific domain makes life much easier when trying to score in Google’s country specific search engine as well. It is definetly worth the effort and money to purchase one.

    Jason’s last blog post..Using Yahoo! Siteexplorer To Identify Niche Markets

  8. Re: points 2/3:
    For 2 word domains, the better ones are natural 2 word phrases as opposed to 2 random or related words.

    I’ll even go out on a limb and say that a natural common 3 word phrase can be more valuable than a 2 worder. plentyoffish for example.

    Jeff’s last blog post..Colorful Crayola Mouse and Keyboard

  9. I love that: “domains favorite line which is for sale as no time to develop due to too many other project on”. The 10 tips on domain really simply the great mostly 5th no. i like it….Thanks for sharing….

  10. These are great tips, thanks again for the encouragement.

    Can you please answer this question: is it worth buying new domains and doing the work to get them ranked? Or is it better to spend the extra dough to buy something established, the resell it later?

    Justin Cook’s last blog post..What to do when you’re dropped from Google’s index

  11. IMO Both depending on the quality of the domain. Sometimes I’ll buy great quality domains with no history and start from scratch if the search traffic is there it’s worth the wait, it’s a lot easier & quicker to buy established and that’s preferable but depends on the budget and asking price, I do a bit of both now Justin.

  12. As you well know Justin, it just depends on the competitive nature of the term, so some are top 5 within a month the more competitive one’s are taking 8 months with a lot of bopping in/out in between.

  13. Hi Scott

    Thanks for a very useful roundup. A quick question – what do you think of hyphenated domains these days (eg. my-spiffy-domain.co.uk)? Have they gone the way of the dodo?

    Cheers, Jon

    Jon’s last blog post..Your Salon Website – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) basics

    • It’s of no seo benefit, which was presumed in the past so much less attractive today if it’s an option, they still sell though and have value.

  14. Thanks Scott, good to have that confirmed. We sometimes get clients wanting to buy a domain who have read less-up-to-date sources and think that it should be hyphenated for seo purposes.

    Cheers, Jon

    Jon’s last blog post..Your Salon Website – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) basics

  15. What an excellent post. A lot of new information in both the post and the comments. For it’s SEO value, a carefully chosen three word url should have value shouldn’t it?

    John’s last blog post..Wedding Tips Part 1

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