What Changes Have Domains Undergone Since the Beginning?

As .com approaches 100 million registrations, it’s worth taking a look back at how the domain space has evolved since the internet came to life. What used to be trendy but has since gone by the wayside? How does the registration process now differ from before? What landmark domains have there been that helped the domain space grow?

What has changed?

1. Registration: from free to $140 to less

Now after so many huge domain sales have happened, it’s hard to fathom that domain registration used to be FREE. This changed when the sole registrar at the time, Network Solutions, was given the right to charge for domain registration, which began the cost of $140 per year. Then the registrar space was opened up so other companies such as Dotster, BuyDomains and Enom could offer domain registration and prices began to lower. GoDaddy has since become the largest domain registrar.

2. Top-level domains: from 6 to hundreds, soon to be thousands

The earliest domain extensions were .com, .org, .mil, .gov, .edu and .net. Eventually, more extensions came out including more global extensions like .info, .biz and .name and also two-letter country-code extensions for each country such as .uk and .de. With the new TLD program introduced recently by ICANN, thousands more extensions will be coming in the years ahead. How have the early extensions held up? .com is still the most valuable with the most registrations but its share has gone down to 45% of all registrations and continues to fall.

3. Buzz words: from surf, cyberspace and portal to ebook, blog and tube

Buzz words can achieve super popularity and then years later go into obscure use. Then new buzz words come along and take their place, with some actually becoming an entrenched part of our lives. Blog didn’t even exist as a word prior to 1999 – in fact its original form was weblog, coined in 1997. Since, it has become an almost inescapable word with massive power. Tube on the other hand existed but its popular meaning on the web today is a site with posted videos. Many domains centered around those words have grown huge in value.

4. Hyphens: from the desired way to split words to largely unwanted

While search engines haven’t changed much in their interpretation of hyphens since the beginning, people have. In the early days of the net, hyphens were in wide use to split words in a domain to make it easier to read. Somewhere along the way, the trend somehow changed to not only going without hyphens for splitting words, but even removing hyphens from hyphenated words. This movement away from hyphens even affected some words outside of domains – email used to be e-mail until eventually the hyphenless version saw wider use.

5. Generic domains: from “boring” to sales up to 8 figures

Before the early type-in value of generics was fully understood, it was believed that they were boring compared to a more brandable style of domain. The value of what we know now to be the highest value domains, top tier generic domains, went from nothing to amazingly high in a relatively short time span. The one sale that especially sparked the generic domain craze was Business.com in 1999 for $7.5 million. Since then, there have been dozens of public domain sales for 7 figures or more, topped by Sex.com for $13 million.

6. Domain parking: from nonexistant to huge to weak

Eventually as there started to be more people holding portfolios of domains, domain parking rose up as a solution to make passive money off of them by showing ads. With type-ins and even search rankings helping generic domains get traffic, the domain parking industry boomed. Type-ins have since dwindled with the dominance of Google for helping people find what they’re looking for, and parking pages have been shunned by search engines as low-quality sites, leading to a rapid decline in the once easy passive revenue-earning potential of domains.

7. Domains in business: from nonexistant to a necessity

As the internet went from a tight-knit geek community to an interesting new world some people discovered to the billions of people using it daily today, it has become THE place to do business. Almost every telephone commercial has a URL in it. Even businesses that may never serve a customer or client through a website or email have websites so that they can lure people from the web to their location. The mindset has shifted from “what’s a domain name?” to “why do I need a domain name?” to “I better get a domain name!”

What changes will the future bring to the internet and to domains? No one really knows for sure. With the internet continuing to expand and become the place where people spend their time and consequently where marketing has migrated, most if not all business not already online will establish a presence online. Quality of domain and brand will become that much more important as businesses that don’t make a good first impression won’t survive.

At Domainate, we can help you start on the right foot with a strong domain. We understand how the web has evolved and what domains make an impact in today’s internet. Contact us to get the right domain to grow well into the future.

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2 Comments on “What Changes Have Domains Undergone Since the Beginning?”

  1. […] Predictions for Domains in 2012 What Changes Have Domains Undergone Since the Beginning? The Future Outlook on Domain […]

  2. Sharon Hayes says:

    Reblogged this on Sharon Hayes Dot Com.


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