Businesses often struggle to decide which domain to use. When it comes to purchasing a domain name, you have plenty of extensions to choose from, ranging from .com and .net, to .me, and even .mobi. But which one should you pick?
Is it worth it straying away from a .com extension? Can you do more harm than good by picking .net or .us? For the answers to these questions and more, I talked to Terran Marketing founder Mike Jackness, who recently acquired Coffee.net
and whose portfolio also includes sites like WPHub.com and GraphicDesign.com.
There are plenty of challenges when running a .net site. For example, Jackness told me, "The general population doesn't understand the difference between .com and .net. They just go to Google and search or type it in their web browser and end up at the .com site."
Jackness added, "People hear a brand name and just type .com into their web browser, so it's really hard to brand a .net site. Google realizes that as well, so a .com domain is vastly superior to a .net domain or any other extension. It'll become even more common and prevalent in the future too. They're in the process of making all of these other extensions like .secure. That'll make the .com sites even more valuable."
Why would an enterprise pursue a site like Coffee.net then, if there are so many downsides? Is there any value? "It becomes a search play," Jackness said. "Google still values exact match domains like Coffee.net higher. They don't value the .net as high as the .com, but it still has value."
When it comes to value, .net is worth about one-tenth of its .com counterpart. If you'd value the .net domain for $20, you'd expect the .com version to be worth at least $200. Again, authority, branding, and favorable treatment from Google all come into play. And, the .com advantage will only continue to grow over time. Heck, there's even .xxx, .museum, and .travel. ICANN's new rules mean businesses will soon have a plethora of new domains to choose from (and pay for).
Jackness chose to develop Coffee.net specifically because the main domain, Coffee.com, doesn't exist. As Jackness put it, "The one main reason I decided to grow Coffee.net is because the .com isn't out there. Some big coffee company owns it and Coffee.com redirects." When I tried accessing Coffee.com, I got an error message saying that it couldn't connect to the server.
Yahoo.net forwards to Yahoo.com; WalMart.net forwards to WalMart.com. Many sites simply start as a .net and, assuming they're relevant, transfer to a .com extension. Jackness admitted, "I can't think of a single .net site that's a real factor in the world. It's because anyone can start up a .net site." If your business wants to be relevant, it's imperative to pony up and purchase the .com domain.
Businesses like Yahoo, WalMart, and Terran Marketing buy extensions like .net in order to protect their brand names. It seems logical that you would want to protect your corporate identity in any way possible. After all, you can purchase InternetEvolution.net for $9.99 from GoDaddy right now, or get InternetEvolution.info for less than $3.
One industry where the .net extension serves a completely different purpose is online poker. Prior to April 15, 2011, sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker advertised to US residents by promoting PokerStars.net and FullTiltPoker.net on television. These sites were billed as "educational" as no real money play was technically offered.
Jackness remarked, "Poker sites were forced into having a .net site because they had to have a free play alternative. They used .net knowing that people were going to the .com site anyway. For example, you hear PokerStars.net but go to PokerStars.com anyway. In the poker world, the same people own both sites."
Tech gurus out there: What has been your experience with .net, .org, and other extensions besides .com? Comment here and let us know.
— Dan Cypra is an Internet gambling industry expert and writes for several of the leading poker news sites on the Web.