Are Top-Tier Keyword Domains Valuable in Any Extension?Posted: November 30, 2011
With hundreds of new extensions on the horizon, there’s a tendency to forget that hundreds of extensions already exist. Country-code extensions make up the vast majority of them, with a significant amount of them not very popular, even within their country.
I know many extensions like .vg, .ms, .tc and others intimately as I’ve bought and sold quite a few top-tier keywords in those extensions in the past. Many years ago, the growing online poker phenomenon caused the word “poker” to have value in every extension. At it’s peak, there was a fairly defined minimum of $1,500 for Poker.anything. I was ultimately involved in 7 sales of Poker in country-code extensions including Poker.in for $60,000.
Poker was a booming online business at the time and many believed that these Poker.anything domains could help rank a site highly on Google for poker. Additionally, the names were shorter than what could be had in .com or another mainstream extension for the same price. Rather than having to remember some random word or two along with poker in a .com, why not just 2 letters after the dot?
In the past few years, we’ve seen some previously obscure country-code extensions get used more, particularly for short domains. The popularity of Twitter saw extensions like .ly, .gd, .nu and others come to sudden life. But has that expanded into generic keywords in those extensions?
No. Top-tier keywords are not valuable in merely any extension. In fact, the only domains valuable in pretty much every extension are single-letter domains thanks to the short domain craze.
Why aren’t top-tier keywords valuable in every extension?
1. SEO benefits of them haven’t held up
While initially, Google may not have treated extensions all that differently, over time it became apparent that they were. Case in point, Google had to announce that .co would be treated like a gTLD after it was released globally by the registry. Reading between the lines, country-code extensions do not get the same treatment internationally as com/net/org and other gTLDs.
You might think “but still, it’s an exact match domain!” Keep in mind, SEO as an industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 5 years. It’s impossible to rank highly for terms like poker without long-term and extensive SEO efforts. The strength of exact match coupled with the weakness of a poor extension would make the domain worth a drop in the bucket for SEO.
2. High registration costs
Keeping a .com registered for 5 years isn’t a huge pain in the wallet, but a .cg or .md would be. Those are two of a number of extensions that cost over $100 per year to register. Lower-cost obscure country-code extensions are around $30-$40 per year, so at best it’s still 3-4 times the cost of a .com. Ultimately these costs started to turn off buyers.
3. A largely reseller-driven market
Sure, it likely took a few sales of Poker.ext domains to end-users to help establish a market for them. Once that market got going though, it was fueled almost entirely by resellers. After all, if the values were seemingly shooting up from out of nowhere, there was no telling how high they could end up.
All that said, top-tier keywords are valuable in most extensions, and in most of those extensions they are THE most valuable domains. Trends may be moving towards short brandables given the social media trends of using them, but top-tier keywords are still usually the kings of their extension.