Death of Domaining?

This month, I let a domain expire that I’d owned for almost 10 years.

Here’s why.

One of the first businesses I started was rental classifieds online. It was 2004 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Craigslist hadn’t come to town yet and the newspaper was grossly overpriced. The site was ClevelandRents.com. It was sold a year or so later.

Around the same time, I secured and kept ClevelandApartments.net.

If you were doing Web marketing 10 years ago, you know how affective exact-match domains could be from a search perspective. Even hyphenated URLs worked pretty well. In fact, if I had taken a screenshot of the Top Ten Google rankings back then, you would’ve seen a lot of keyword-specific URLs.

Not anymore. Less than half of the sites fall under this specification now.

Interestingly, the .com for Cleveland apartments is for sale. My guess is the drop-off in free search traffic is a big reason. And that’s a dotcom. You think .net is worth anything? At least ClevelandApartments.com likely gets some type-in traffic.

Fast forward and it’s not only Google caring less about exact-match domains, but the new reality is domains-gone-wild. There’s a dot-something for just about everything now. And it’s not letting up.

And then there’s the app ecosystem and mobile. You may not have even cared to check, but many of your favorite apps failed to secure the dotcom for their landing page. Vine is a .co, for example.

But who cares? You search the App Store or you search Google, who filters the search for you. Vine.com barely makes the Top Ten for most people.

Friends who are domainers – buyers-and-sellers of domains – say that dotcoms are more important than ever because of the amount of noise on the Internet. They’re right, of course, but the value is dropping, and I think it’s only going to get worse. I can see a future where dotcoms aren’t the default Internet for more and more Internet users.

And the value of non-dotcoms, such as .net and .org, is going to zero very quickly, especially if they’re just going to be used as a placeholder or used as strictly a search play.

ClevelandApartments.net is worthless. That’s why I let it expire after owning it for 10 years.


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