In their own words: 93 successful business owners talk about the importance of their descriptive, generic domain names

by Edwin on March 28, 2014

Summary: a generic domain name is not a silver bullet that guarantees success. However, having the right one can catapult a business to the next level, and deliver overnight the kind of credibility it would be almost impossible to get any other way.

Tip of the hat to the original publications – it’s worth taking the time to enjoy each interview at length. Think of this roundup as a little nibble to whet your appetite for the 89 delicious meals ahead. 
“Blacksocks is a perfect domain for the site. It’s intuitive, says exactly what it is and in 1999 it was available. It’s had a very positive impact on our business.” 
“We have been able to determine that fully 85% off all unique visitors to our site have directly typed in the url rather than doing a google search. Since our URL is our product name, is a natural first search. There is no other aspect of our marketing effort that has produced what the URL has!”
“I slapped a MailChimp landing page on it and started taking email addresses basically, because I knew I probably had a budget for a sort of six-month development period. So, the domain would probably be dormant and I thought: “Oh, well, what is the most effective way of utilizing the value?” I think we collected, in a four or five-month period, just under ten thousand subscribers.” 
“Now, if you are advertising with Google AdWords and you are buying a thousand clicks a day out of Google AdWords, and all of a sudden you were paying ten dollars at because you had to work a little bit harder to get the traffic, because people did not know what Beep was. They are taking a leap of faith. It is not descriptive. Then they see and they are like: “I know what that is.” 
“I remember we placed the first bid at $50,000 to buy it to an auction platform. Then we got a response, “No, we won’t… That much”. Then we placed another bid and so on, and we ended up agreeing to purchase it for about $100,000 plus the broker’s fee, which at the time, when I was telling people, they were like, “$100,000 for a domain name, are you crazy?” But if you think about it, it’s the best marketing investment I’ve ever made.” 
“I think the biggest factor about having a domain like that, alongside all the other benefits -it’s memorable, it’s easy to spell and so on – is the fact that it lets us punch above our weight. So if we’re looking to sponsor something, or if we’re looking to work with another company, or even from the customer’s point of view, having a domain like adds a lot of legitimacy to the brand that we wouldn’t have if we had a relatively generic brand name.” 
“Putting myself in the position of a potential customer in Cheltenham wishing to send a parcel sameday, I have just typed the phrase “Cheltenham courier” into Google search. The website for Cheltenham Couriers has appeared an incredible three times on the front page (Google Adwords, Google Places and the actual search query result).” 
“We acquired about a month before we exhibited at Blog World Expo in November of last year. We were presented with the opportunity and immediately jumped on the chance to own a fantastic generic domain name which captures our business so well.” 
“ fully describes what we do and the generic way that we do it,” he said. We supply coupons on tens of thousands of websites everyday. We operate fully in the U.S., and offer coupons and vouchers in 12 European countries. And we’re known to be a coupon platform. There’s no better money we could have spent than on our domain name.” 
“Yes, was essential to our record growth. The domain provided a great platform for our customers to find and buy various baby products. It was also instrumental in cutting our expenses and successfully building our brand reputation.” 
“We have coveted the domain name for quite a while and are excited that we finally closed on its acquisition. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of chocolate and chocolate gifts are purchased on the Internet and that number is growing. With the power of this category killer name, we are instantly the most credible online website for purchasing chocolate. Within days of buying, we turned down substantial offers from two large chocolate companies looking to own their category name.” 
“It has had a significant impact on the growth of the business as we came out of stealth mode. For one, having a top level domain brings instant traffic, awareness and, in many cases, credibility in a market place. We quickly went from unknown to a top of mind provider in the cloud computing space. Additionally, as we launched the company, the excitement around the space coupled with the strength of the domain led to a significant amount of coverage in the press, which we never could have expected as a small company just launching a product.” 
“Later on, when we were looking for a domain name for a new line of business, we splurged and spent $10,000 to buy the URL And we thought it was money well spent. For a one-time fixed cost, we were able to purchase a memorable, easy-to-spell brand that made us seem awfully legitimate while adding absolutely nothing to the incremental cost of the service.” 
“As I highlighted above, the main issue with a small business like mine is competing with larger established retailers. The issue is NOT on price or service; however, it is on visibility on the web. A new kid on the block like me when launching HomeLife needs a foot in the door, and that is exactly what gave me. Not only is it a powerful domain name and long established, but it also tells the potential customers exactly what I sell. This impacts conversion rates in a positive way and gives the customers reassurance that we have spent huge amounts of money developing and investing in the website and that we know what we are doing.” 
“Then he took a huge risk by getting a $20,000 loan to buy the domain name The risk paid off: DeLuca was able to repay that loan in a year, the company’s growth exploded and DeLuca now is positioning to achieve even greater success by providing the kind of quality products and service that turns customers into evangelists for the site.” 
“When Jesse Stein first purchased in 2006, it wasn’t much more than a parked domain with sponsored links netting its previous owner a couple hundred dollars a month. In just six years Stein turned it into a recognized retail brand with more than 450,000 products from across 13 sports–taking in $19.5 million in 2012 and earning a three-year growth rate of 270 percent.” 
“But, the company he owns and runs, has made quite a name for itself in the industry after less than five years. Armed with a killer domain name, search engine optimization expertise and a steady stream of journalism school graduates that pump out online content on the surety bond industry, the Columbia company has become one of the big players in the market.” 
“From that experience, I understood the value of a premium domain is huge, particularly in the early stages when you’re hustling to gain credibility. At, we were able to get meetings early in our company history which led to substantial business development deals with large companies such as AOL Health, and Everyday Health. Also, when you made customer calls, I can’t quantify it but the phone calls returned and emails opened is going to be higher. From an online marketing standpoint, a premium domain will help your paid search click-through rates, which yields a positive impact on quality scores on both the Google Adwords and BingAds SEM platforms. And I didn’t even mention the traffic implications, which most domainers understand really well.” 
“The owner of Adore Cruises has spent £50,000 to acquire the domain in what is believed to be the biggest deal for a premium travel site in the UK this year. Ian Gilder, formerly of Jetline Cruises, said he expects to recoup his investment quickly for the domain which he will run alongside his main Adore Cruises brand.” 
“Having worked together for 7 years, Marc Benioff (CEO of is both a friend and mentor of mine. One of the many lessons I learned from him over the years is clarity in product positioning. Can people figure out what you do just by looking at your domain name?” 
“You know it undoubtedly gives us a leg up. My wife and I both came from, I came from almost a purely creative background, she came from a pure service background, and we’ve never been in a position to find somebody who had the technical aptitude or web savvy to really utilize what could be harnessed in having a domain like that. But at the end of the day, for a business like ours to own that, it gives us leverage that other people can’t have.” 
“ is a premium domain and arguably the best domain in the telecom industry. One word domain names are easy to remember and help to find us on the web and help us create great name recognition.” 
“So you really need every advantage you can possibly get. And for us, I did not care about making a cool name like Zazzu or whatever that I had to then go out and, every time I wrote that name, I had to explain it. – did not have to explain it.” 
“What I usually tell folks is that for the price I paid for I could have gotten a brand new compact car… The difference is 10 years later the car would probably be gone and 10 years later the domain is still going strong earning revenue.”
“The domain name gives us an immediate presence in the online logo design space.” 
“Building a strong brand is expensive and time consuming, but having a URL that is strong and unique has been important in the growth of our brand. Our domain name and brand is catchy and yet still not so arbitrary that the customer cannot identify what it is that we do. I think the URL has had a strong impact on the success of the business, and having “”, for example, may have sounded too “small” and may have lacked the unique branding opportunity.” 
“Since the 2007 buyout led by Conlon and a change of name from Victoria Travel to, the specialist agency has grown rapidly with a focus on user-generated content.” 
“Well, it’s about the best domain name you can have for the business. Honestly, there were a few old-timers out there who had been in the business for years who called me and asked what my intentions were with the website. I think having the name shows the business is legit but a good site design helps as well. It doesn’t look like a click and build.” 
“So was just the niche we wanted to be in. There was already established players in our space in the $200 million to $500 million range. If we’re going to compete with them, we better not compete head-to-head. We better find some portion of the market that we can do better than they do and start there.” 
“It’s been quite a wild ride. Since acquiring the name in 2006, our business have been transformed. First, the organization is perceived to be an authoritative website. At conferences, people often ask how we got the name and I share the story. This alone has created some positive word-of-mouth for us. I also believe that a good name give prospective customers the confidence to do business with us because they feel we are *the* company to work with. The fact we’ve rounded out our service offering with free material including articles, blogs, podcasts and videos helps.” 
“ is a unique online and ‘offline’ brand that is not only an industry descriptor but which includes the domain name within the brand. A rarity. It has enormous global potential and slots naturally into our stable of businesses in the independent and adventure travel market.” 
“While we were operating very successfully with other domain names previously, acquiring has given us a great boost. Our prospects are seeing how legitimate we are, it helps our SEO greatly, and we benefit from direct traffic. At the same time, it blocks our competitors from owning it.” 
“The domain for me is extremely important. It not only gives us great recognition, it can easily be remembered by the customer unlike an 800 number or a name that does not reflect what you actually do.” 
“Around 2000-2001, the company became very interested in the internet, purchased the name for I think the figure which was paid was somewhere in the region of $11 million. It was thought to be a crazy sum of money, but now of course we look back and think ‘what a bargain'” 
“Oink is a more appealing brand for teens, and a logical extension of the Virtual Piggy concept while retaining the brand heritage of the Piggy.” 
“Quill Corporation has excellent brand recognition among small and medium businesses and acquiring will help us grow the online business.” 
“He called his rookie website and started seeing property punters logging on. Soon Hunt realised that finding flatshares isn’t just a London thing. So in 2004, he bought the domain name for $2000 and IntoLondon’s national version went live. ‘I was very good at SEO. Website marketing was just taking off back then. I managed to get SpareRoom well ranked for popular search terms. Combined with word of mouth promotion, the traffic and paid advertisers grew.'” 
“Still, even at $5.5m, I’m convinced the price was a steal. It’s the strongest gaming-related domain out there and just a very cool domain to turn into a global brand.” 
“Implementing the Stealth.Com name change better positions our brand identity and provides for a short and easy to remember moniker.” 
“The more he thought about it, the more he realized that his biggest concern was that a competitor might swoop in and buy Nuts. ‘It’s fundamentally a better brand. They would be able to nibble away. Maybe in 10 years they could catch up with us.'” 
“ is definitively the most intuitive domain name for the Canadian workforce. It gives us a strong and unforgettable brand overnight that will serve as an entry point to our existing network of specialized career sites in Canada.” 
“We have always wanted to acquire an incisive, generic category killer dot com for quite some time, but could not hit upon the precise term. We are thrilled to finally obtain this coveted top-level domain name.” 
“Apart from the fact that this is our first step towards global expansion, the .com domain has its own set of advantages. First of all, .com commands a very important place in the minds of the market and the consumers, and also adds a lot of brand value. In addition, it also has its monetary advantages when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO)” 
“We’re still growing. We started the business from nothing 18 months ago, but have managed to grow the online lead numbers from one or two a day to anywhere up to 30 per day.” 
“Brands typically will not sell to ‘discount’ sites but have agreed to sell to based on the new prestige and luxury positioning of the site and the fact that is selling fragrances at full retail price.” 
“The umbrella brand will reflect the vibrant and entrepreneurial spirit of the contractors that we assist. It is without doubt the best domain name that was available and the reason we actively pursued it. We want to create a brand and business that people want to deal with and work for.” 
“Mickiewicz says DeveloperAuction was too limited, as it implied that the site was just for engineers, and notes that the auction part of the site had negative connotations, as many employers thought that the highest bid won the talents of the best engineers. Mickiewicz notes that the domain was ‘the most expensive option’ for the company, but ultimately conveys the company’s mission the best.” 
“We saw an opportunity to purchase a marquee domain name and decided to go for it. We believe will be a name that will have more appeal to our target audience and that we can invest in to build a niche brand in the senior living industry.” 
“The name change is intended to clearly align the e-retailer with its branded line of storage and organization products for consumers and businesses.” 
“There is always method in our madness – how easy is it to remember the name ‘Design Agency’? The name is so simple, so explicit in its meaning and as literally everything that we do here has an element of design, the name just fits perfectly.” 
“According to the founders, the response so far to the new name has been fantastic. They have no buyer’s remorse. Scientists emailed them to congratulate them on the rebrand and confess that they felt better about the company with the easier to pronounce name. The founders discovered that journalists appear to take them more seriously as well.” 
“We are extremely excited about this purchase; is currently Australia’s number one online cruise agency with sales exceeding fifty million dollars annually. Now with the acquisition of, a more generic domain name, we are looking forward to the expansion of our business offering even more of our clientele the superior convenience and value for money our current customers appreciate.” 
“The purchase of was one of the biggest domain sales worldwide last year and we believe it to be one of the most expensive ever purchased by an Irish company. We are 100pc confident that the investment will pay for itself in no time as we expand our product range and improve marketing under the new brand.” 
“ABCSearch is a trusted brand in the search industry, but many advertisers haven’t heard of us. This gives us more credibility and includes all of the digital media technologies we now offer.” 
“Our new name more accurately reflects not only who we were, but what we have become: the complete resource for novice and semi-professional traders and investors, offering a wide range of real time quotes and technical charts, breaking news and in-depth analysis, along with a broad selection of financial tools and a comprehensive global markets calendar.” 
“But there is another reason that Oktogo acquired and has chosen to refocus itself as a full portal: competition. ‘There are too many e-commerce travel sites now in Russia, and so we have to do something to differentiate.” 
“Our customers will be able to easily recognize us. We can tell them ‘just go to’ rather than e-s-s-data-recovery. It makes the whole process a lot smoother for the customer.” 
“With higher visibility, we’re on track to making online reputation management a central facet of brand management for all organizations. We know individuals, companies and governments need help protecting their names against those who would use the internet as a forum for slander and debasement. As, we’re here not just to protect reputation but the whole brand.” 
“For Richard Poole, founder of online magazine and social club, being easy to find online is ‘everything’. With no other way to find the website geared to the over 50s market, ‘it’s really important that we’ve got a ‘’, that we are local,’ he says. And when people search for ‘grownups’, the site tops the results.” 
“We had orders from day one. Many people don’t realize this, but having a good domain name like this is important, because you have built-in traffic. From day one, we were getting about 500 to 600 users a day just typing in and expecting to find bobbleheads.” 
“Chief executive Chris Terrill said the company is relaunching in an effort to become a marquee dot-com. ‘For a company of our size and our age, we should be a dominant brand, but we’re not. So we made the decision to make the change based on some very specific research.” 
“We’re clearly in a marketplace that’s large in size and of increasing demand in the consumer set. When people go to Google to find out what is available for delivery, by nature of our name we have the benefit of being able to reach those people.” 
“It was a six figure price we paid for, and it was what we thought was a good fair price for it and one that we thought: ‘Hey, if we build this out, it will be great.’ And if we do not, like you said, the value of the name itself we felt was worth it.” 
“We believe Market Leader is in a unique position to put this high potential website to work for the thousands of brokerage companies and agents who depend upon us for high quality software and performance marketing solutions. We are committed to helping our customers meet engaged home buyers and sellers, and will help us meet the rapidly growing demand for our services while at the same time lowering our costs to deliver them.” 
“Hard and fast breaking news is currently an underserved market. With we can now provide the optimal solution.” 
“Realising the potential, Edd and Fiona bought the name from their previous employers and set about trying to come up with a viable business idea. After settling on a broadband price comparison site, Edd and Fiona took out a small firm loan guarantee to use for advertising costs and had the site built. Jump forward to today… now attracts around one million customers a year and is considered the people’s champion on broadband deals.” 
“There are thousands of buyers guides out there now but we want to be the dominant player. Spending $30,000 10 years ago was considered to be kind of crazy.” 
“I started about 10 different Internet businesses including resume writing, want-ad listings, tool sales and sporting goods sales to name a few. All of them flopped except one – selling camera filters. It took off like a rocket, all because I purchased the domain I paid $10,000 for the domain. Looking back, it was the best money I’ve ever spent.” 
“For obvious reasons is one of the most lucrative web addresses in the industry and one which we have been keen to secure for quite some time. We are thrilled that after years of discussions and tense negotiations we have finally been able to secure the domain name, which I’m sure will help make our extensive range of products even easier to find.”
“It’s the same service, we’re just changing the name. But we think this will elevate us to match the big boys in the market. SEO is the major reason, but in terms of our branding there is no better way to describe the industry that we are in other than ‘deals’.” 
“We bought a website in the United States called for $35 million bucks. The only reason we bought it is so that Expedia couldn’t have that URL. Just thinking ahead – thinking ‘How’s Expedia going to compete with us? Well, if they had that URL, maybe they’d have a shot – so let’s take that off the table…'” 
“As a niche site, the domain fits in very well with our existing portfolio and the acquisition represents our increasing presence in the North American market and growing international focus.” 
“In 1996, I bought the web address for $600 from a bloke in the States. Since then I’ve been offered large sums of money for it, but I’ll keep it because whenever someone searches for bricklayers on Google, we’re top of the list.” 
“I continue to pinch myself. I started as a software guy and I run a business that’s knocking on the door of the ASX 100 and has got a market cap of $1.8 billion.” 
“We are thrilled to announce the REVENUE.COM rebrand because it now fully conveys the company’s mission of giving publishers of all sizes the ability to generate revenue ‘outside the banner,’ so to speak.”
“ ticked all the right boxes and provided an immense amount of intrinsic value. Due to our previous experience looking at similar transactions we realized that it instantly made sense for us and were able to act quickly.”
“I like to say that we are applying a ‘descriptive’ approach for the brand. is descriptive. is a verb. is a category. is simple. is memorable. is trusted because it is transparent. So by adopting as our brand we are applying a descriptive moniker to our company, our service and our community. We don’t have to spend millions of dollars in advertising to convince a consumer what we are. is all about swapping.” 
“‘One of the things Sam said to me was to have the best name, best people and best marketing, and that rang true,’ Westland said. One of his first steps was to grab existing website,, which always ranked in the top three in searches online for project management software.” 
“We could have spent millions to advertise and brand an original three-word creative domain name, but instead we decided to jumpstart our company with the domain. We’ve transformed our family business with the purchase of a simple brand.” 
“My ad buying, because I picked up StraightRazor and, for me is not 60% less, but it is like 40% to 50% less on those sites. So, I can crush my competition, and those are the best keywords for what I do, for one portion of my site or one portion of my business.” 
“In our meetings, the phrase ‘We understand your brand name’ was mentioned to us many times. It is doubtful we could have secured not only the meetings, but the attention and interest we experienced if we had hit the market with anything but the label.” 
“The acquisition of will get us much faster to the finish line of where we want to be.” 
“With my experience in the domain name industry, I knew the advantages a market leading domain such as this would give. While competitors in the injury claims industry were spending over £6 million a year in TV advertising to help build brand, a domain such as is a brand in a box.” 
“The name has opened up a lot of doors. It has opened up a lot of conversations, talking to people, where they might not normally give you the time of day, but really and truly, because you own such a key generic name, for those players that are in the space, it gives you instant credibility.”
“In 2004 we made our first step into the casual games sector by buying the website domain [spelletjes means ‘games’ in Dutch]. In 2005, we accelerated things by purchasing similar domains, from to and, in other languages. With these generic domain names, we were able to get a lot of traffic from Google searches, and once arriving at our sites, people would stay there.”
“We are very excited about the new prospects which are available to us now that we have As leaders in the industry, we are thrilled to have a name that truly shows what we are all about. All of the effort and energy we expended to obtain ownership of the domain name was worth it.”
“ chief executive and managing director Greg Roebuck said would make buying and selling cars easier because it simplified searches.”
“The web site is significant because it gives us credibility. We get a lot of type-ins who are directed right to us. Also people remember it. We have a very high retention rate.” 
“The possibilities are endless. I’m a firm believer in owning great brands. There is no better brand than when you live in Denver. It’s like owning the best real estate.”
“The problem of branding starts with people remembering your name. Track is one of those short and easy to remember yet neutral words. There are many others out their but not all are as simple.”
“I purchased the domain name from a third party. Our service is something fairly new to the market and I wanted to have an obvious domain name that tells customers exactly what we do. Our business offers a highly creative product, so a fun and creative name would have been great but we felt we needed customers to be able to easily find us.”
“The possibilities are endless. I’m a firm believer in owning great brands. There is no better brand than when you live in Denver. It’s like owning the best real estate.”
“The domain is your asset, and it can provide instant branding and legitimacy. But it’ll only get you so far. A premium domain definitely helps to open the door, but you have to have substance behind what you are building. The best way to get substance is to focus on doing a few things really well.”

NOTE: Hope you found this collection useful. This page will be updated with additional examples as I come across them, so please check back again sometime!


Anthony March 28, 2014 at 8:00 am

Excellent rundown that really shows the enormous value in generic top level domain names. Great post!

HowieCrosby. March 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Hi Edwin, great post with a nice round up of comments from domain owners, it’s always good to hear from a client’s perspective.

“a generic or exact match domain name is not an essential part of doing business, but having one can catapult you to the next level”

I understand that an EMD is not high on the list in the google algorithm, but if it’s going to catapult a business owner to the next level, I would say it’s quite essential actually, it’s seems apparent the EMD’s are working well, even the non premium keyword .com/ would be doing so.



Raymond Hackney March 29, 2014 at 3:49 am

Nice job Edwin.

Ojebor March 30, 2014 at 5:13 am

Great work, very informative.

Sam March 31, 2014 at 12:42 am

Very true great article

Edwin March 31, 2014 at 10:05 pm

I’m very glad this is proving to be useful.

However, I’m turning off comments on this now, because behind the scenes this has become by far the most spammed post ever (over 200 attempts and counting!)

If you know of another business “success story” (told from the point of view of the business owner) that references the importance of a generic domain name to this success, then please email me some brief information at:


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