Think Twice Before You Use a Domain Hack | DomainInvesting.com
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Think Twice Before You Use a Domain Hack

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Domain hacks can be cutesy, and the more publicity some of the popular hacks receive, the more others want to emulate. The problem with domain hacks is that they can be confusing to consumers, especially when they don’t mention the “dot” in their branding.

Just the other day, I wrote an article about a new start up called Bump, which smartly operates on Bump.com. One of the people who read the article made a comment about another company called Bump, although that company operates on Bu.mp. Unfortunately for the Bu.mp guys, they are most likely going to lose traffic to the Bump.com start up, and not only is it their own fault, but there’s really nothing they can do about it since Bump.com is a venture backed company and the domain name wouldn’t be for sale.

Delicious and Bitly were two of the first startups that went mainstream to use domain hacks, and luckily for both, they were able to get the .com domain name to match (Delicious had to purchase Delicious from the registrant). Delicious probably paid a lot more for its .com domain name simply because it built up considerable traffic and brand recognition unintentionally. People, especially in the .com centric US, just assume it’s on a .com.

Just this past week, Google announced its new url shortener, which uses the domain hack Goo.gl for its own url. Smartly for them, they also own Googl.com in the event of typos, although it seems like they are differentiating it from the main search site by emphasizing the “dot.” On a side note, it will be interesting to track the traffic to GL.com, since there will probably be people who inadvertently type in Goo.gl.com in error.

My recommendation to start ups and to anyone who wants to use a domain hack is that they should only do it if they can secure the .com. If they can’t secure the .com but must use this hack for some reason, it’s critical to emphasize the “dot.”


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and professional domain investor. Elliot is President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a domain investing company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Elliot is the publisher of DomainInvesting.com.

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Comments (20)

    Gnanes

    Goo(.)com will also get the typo traffic.

    October 2nd, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Mitch Thrower

    Elliot,
    Thanks for the mention. Our goal is to help any and all companies affiliated with the english word bump. Most core words have multiple affiliated brands, e.g. weather, weatherbug, weatherunderground. We’ve got a gateway for our sisters bumps on our home page to help them in their mission. There are actually more than 10 other bumps now, e.g. bu.mp (great company, great product, great guys), bumprr.com, bumped.in, bump network, bumptop (purchased by google), the list goes on and on.
    -Mitch Thrower
    CEO & Founder, BUMP.com

    October 2nd, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Joseph Slabaugh

    I am the guy that posted about bu.mp, but I only found out about it cause it is linked from the bottom of Bump.com. They got a prime real estate link as Bump.com would boost their search engine ranking too…

    October 3rd, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Stephen Douglas

    @El

    Humor me:

    What are:

    1) Domain Hacks?

    2) Domain spams?

    Since I deal mainly with reputable companies, these terms have flown by me.

    Thx

    October 3rd, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Elliot

    @ Stephen

    A domain hack is when you use a ccTLD to complete a word… like De.licio.US or BU.MP.

    October 3rd, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Joe Slabaugh

    Delicious has delicious.com too but started as de.licio.us. In this case they really just registered licio.us and made a subdomain…

    October 3rd, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Ron

    Thats why you should “secure” Bahamas.COM” :)

    October 3rd, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Patricia Kaehler

    I never knew that’s what a “domain hack” meant…
    I thought it was something bad.. (LOL)

    Question – for Mitch:
    Your name is new to me…
    How did you find this site ??
    WHat other projects do you have online ??

    Are you on Twitter ?? Facebook ??

    Thanks in advance…
    ~Patricia Kaehler – DomainBELL

    October 4th, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Stephen Douglas

    El,

    Thanks for the definition of a “domain hack”. I’ve never heard of that before, and even with the examples, I don’t see the “bad label” of “domain hack” being justified because someone uses the ccTLD extension to create a word/phrase. “HACK” is considered serious illegal activies… maybe this is a wrong term for people who use extensions to create a word/phrase.

    yes?

    October 4th, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Joseph Slabaugh

    Steven, “hack” has been used since the early days of the net as in writing code, it was not originally used as a bad term, it was just attached to illegal activity later. “True hackers” would prefer that you call the illegal activity “cracking” (as in cracking code)

    October 4th, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Stephen Douglas

    @ Joseph,

    Thanks Joseph for clearing that up. I’ve been online since 1994 (BBS yo!) and the word “hack” has always been relegated to something done that isn’t mainstream.. or *ahem*, legal.

    I guess, like everything, “hack” is now just a term for… trick marketing? Trick SEO? what?

    October 4th, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Joseph Slabaugh

    Steven I came online for the first time in ’99… I may have been the first former Amish to do so.

    October 5th, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Stephen Douglas

    @ Joseph,

    Amish are cool. I admire the courage to move past the strict nature of the religion, but the Amish aren’t normally viewed as “trouble”.

    I’ll bet 90% of men would like an Amish woman, or at least the Amish womenfolk’s duties to family and husband. And, to be fair, I’ll bet 100% of women would like their man to have the Amish man’s sense of total responsibility and work ethic.

    Have I romanticized it too much?

    BTW: I am “STEPHEN”, not “Steven”. Just to keep the confusion down, there are a lot of domainer “Steve’s”. Although everyone addresses me verbally as “steve”, never in print. My name is my brand! Wish i owned the domain name!

    cheers!

    October 6th, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Joe

    Some Amish are cool but not all of them… I was Swartzentruber Amish. One of the strictest groups. Check out my swartzentruberamish.com to read more about them or watch my YouTube videos. Username is mrdeleted.

    I am a YouTube partner and mostly talk about the amish and family on Yt but my most viewed video is about the UTube.com lawsuit against YouTube. (1.6million views)

    Btw u seem pretty cool. :)

    October 6th, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Showfom

    My domain is such.as I don’t think people will go to suchas.com or such.as.com because my blog is about Domain Hacks

    October 6th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Elliot

    “I don’t think”

    @Showfom

    Let’s say you lose 1% of the traffic, which isn’t so bad. If you lose 10 of every 1,000 people, still not that bad. However, if your site gets big and you start to lose hundreds of people and lose sales, that is bad. It’s especially bad if you try to buy the .com, and that owner is making hundreds a month on PPC courtesy of your website. Do you think he’d sell it cheap? Probably not. He will be very thankful for your marketing though!

    October 6th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Stephen Douglas

    Hi Joe,

    That’s very interesting, and I love facts on anything and everything! My mom grew up near Amish country and she taught me at an early age to respect the Amish, either present or former.

    Did you say you thought I was “cool”? Really? awww shucks.

    Now, can i give you a list of about 10 people you can write that “Stephen is cool” to? lol (No El won’t be on that list, he already fantasizes about being me when I was young and good looking! Fortunately for him, he’s already cooler than I ever was at his age.)

    cheers!

    October 7th, 2010 at 8:20 am

    richard haigh

    It is to be expected that there will be some ‘slippage’ to the .com, if using a long or long-ish ccTLD ‘hack’.

    For bu.mp, however, there is much less risk of that happening because it is very short and is verbally “bu dot mp”. What could be simpler than that?

    I have the ri.sk domain, and I believe it is also somewhat immune to the ‘dotcom effect’, and that goes for the other 2+2 ‘hacks’ as well…

    Regards,

    November 23rd, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Paul

    To clarify, domain hacks are indeed something bad.

    The biggest problem with almost any web search is the extreme number of false hits. Part of the whole strategy of an effective search is to narrow down the results.

    One very effective way to narrow the results is to add restrictions on the top-level domain, either with a whitelist or a blacklist.

    When I want generic information not shopping sites, I often need to exclude .com and .biz. Sometimes for reliable information, I search only .edu. If I’m looking for information about Germany, I usually want only German sources, so I search only .de.

    I wish webmasters would stop being so superficial and follow the rules to make the Web easier to use.

    January 8th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

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