Choosing a $200,000 Domain Name by Error and Fluke

I know this is meant to be the history of a $100,000 site but as I’ve just been offered (and turned down) $200K for it I thought I’d try to sensationalise the title a bit, sorry :)

The choosing of the domain was a lucky mistake that I’ve learnt from. I knew I wanted to do a site about gadgets so to choose the name I did a search on Overture to see what gadget phrases had the most searches. To my surprise Overture reported that the term “coolest gadgets” was searched for over 10K per day on Yahoo (and the other engines that use Yahoo’s technology).

So I thought it was a bit of a no brainer to register the domain (first mistake), get it to rank for the term and watch the dollars roll in. Unfortunately I never realised that certain Overture results can at times be complete and utter bollocks, and common sense should also of told me that there is no way that many people search for that term on a daily basis.


The site has ranked in the #1 spot on Google for the term Coolest Gadgets for a long time, it’s also got nested results (see pic) so I’d expect it to have a very high CTR (Click Through Rate) on the organic SERPS (Search Engine Results PageS). I’ve just checked now and in the last 7 days Google has sent CG over 50,000 visitors, of those only 226 found us by searching for coolest gadgets, haha.

So lesson one, don’t base your choice of domain purely on stats you cannot verify and use a bit of common sense (serious brain fart moment on my part).

The other mistake I made with the domain is the damn hyphen. It works fine for search engine traffic but when it comes to word of mouth advertising it’s a real pain. When I went to CES (Consumer Electronics Show) I got so bored of saying “coolest *HYPHEN* gadgets DOT com”. I have now remedied this mistake by purchasing the non hyphenated version, but it cost me $1,500 so was a relatively expensive lesson.

Lesson two, avoid hyphens if you ever want to talk about your site.

All that being said I do like the name (especially now I no longer have to say hyphen), it describes the site well and is a great talking point at shows, I often find people asking me “What’s the coolest gadget you’ve seen?”

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. I often wondered how accurate those OVT results were. Not very, it would seem.

  2. Hi Iain, I think my example was a real extreme they are probably not normally that far out but it’s certainly something to be aware of.

  3. $1500 sounds cheap for the “non hyphenated” domain name.
    And although you mention a low traffic figure finds you for the term coolest gadgets you didn’t say what they do find you for….

    What is this a guessing game? 😉


  4. Thanks for the comment James.

    Not a guessing game but a multi part true story. I will reveal a lot more in later posts, some things for obvious reasons I’ll have to keep private but probably not a lot.

  5. I always try and get the non-hyphen name (aswell) if i’m looking for offline marketing and / or return visitors.

    Good advice for anyone looking to buy a domain name, otherwise you’re potentially feeding your competitors site with visitors.

  6. Roger that the various “how many times is a keyword used” tools all over the place. My guess is that Google Trends may be the most accurate of the lot - they don’t even show data for “coolest gadgest” - but I’ve seen some of their data be suspect when I compare it to a keyphrase I rank well for and have actual inbound data.

  7. I would like to know how you calculated the purchase offer price for the domain. Did you just thumb-suck or was there a structured valuation?

  8. Thanks Ash, I totally agree the non hyphenated domain is the best way to go IMO and you can’t go far wrong getting both.

    Cheers Alek, I forgot about Google Trends yet another nifty tool from the big G.

    It was a bit of a thumb suck nafi. I first offered $100, he replied saying I could have it for $3,000. I then offered $200, price that came back was $2,500 and after a slew of emails we agreed on $1,500. I didn’t really have a valuation on it I just knew it would make my marketing life easier.

  9. Hi,

    Do you see the need to purchase all top level domains including .net, .org…?


  10. Hi Casey, I personally don’t. I always go for the com and then possibly the I don’t think you’d lose any traffic to net or org. However with the low price of domain there;s not a lot to lose in getting those as well. I’ve got a new site launching soon that is easy to miss-spell so I’ve registered 4 .coms to catch all the incorrect type ins (hopefully).

  11. I made the same hyphen mistake, your brain farting problem must be catching! Most of what I am going to do with it is online based, but I’m sure there will be word of mouth advertising done too, I hyphen guess hyphen I’ll hyphen have hyphen to hyphen saying hyphen the hyphen word hyphen hyphen.

  12. It’s easy done Garry, nice blog you have there hyphen or no hypen.

    Thanks for the link back Tim.

  13. So given what you know now, if coolestgadgets was taken, would you go for coolest-gadgets, or just move onto a different name?

  14. $1500 for a hyphen less? I’d take the hyphened version, if you ask me.

    Btw, what did you do with the non-hyphen version? redirect?

  15. Hi there,

    I just tested out Overture with your keywords “coolest gadgets”, and the results it showed were 5.8 per day. Is it just me?

  16. This is a good lesson that I’ll remember.

  17. I’m relatively new to domaining. The first domain I bought (and the domain for my main site) is I bought it not realising how hard it would be to tell someone the url when it has a hyphen - wish I had have seen this article before I bought it!

    Richard’s last blog post..Could there be some use for a dot TK free domain?


  1. […] Al from Self Made Minds, posted recently about how he overlooked the common sense aspect when choosing a domain name based on his excitement at an Overture Keyword search result. […]

  2. […] further nobody gets homeless here so most people have a price and could move on, I have a price, Al has a price, the person you contact has a price even if they don’t know what it is yet. Finding good […]

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