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A Broader Look at Exact Match Domain Names

For two word company names the exact match domain name may be interpreted in more than one way. A set of related domain names sold this week. Should domain investors hold domain pairs in their portfolio?

The term exact match is traditionally used in the domain world in this way. If your company name is Widgetite, then owning the domain name Widgetite.com is your exact match. In this post I take a look at what the exact match is for two word business names.

There are obvious advantages in owning the .com form of your exact company name, since, particularly in the United States, many will assume a .com extension when guessing your web address if they know your company name.

Two Word Company Names

What if your company name is two words?  Let’s say your company name is Widgety Solutions. My apologies if there are real companies by these names – my intention in using the names is simply to illustrate the case, not to refer to any particular company. 

In this case, I suspect there is some difference of opinion about what is the exact match domain name. Some would argue that Widgety.com is your exact match domain name, while others would suggest WidgetySolutions.com, since that is your company name.

What If Your Company Name Includes a Domain Extension?

I would like to suggest a third possibility. Since .solutions is a top level domain (TLD), the domain name Widgety.solutions could also be considered the exact match. In fact, some might argue that it is a more elegant and pure direct match, since it does not include a part (.com) that is absent in your company name (unless your legal business name is Widgety Solutions Com). 

What Should Businesses Do?

I would argue that forward-looking businesses should make every effort to secure both the .com exact match and the shorter new extension direct match. 

Forward-looking businesses should make every effort to secure both the .com exact match and the shorter new extension direct match

For well over two decades .com has been the most highly sought, used and respected domain extension, particularly for businesses. There is no sign of that changing.  That means it is almost essential to secure your matching .com.  

For well over two decades .com has been the dominant domain extension, and there is no sign of that changing.  It is almost essential to secure your matching .com.

However, no one is certain about the longer term future, and should naming trends change over the years, with direct match across the dot becoming common, you would not want your clients guessing that and it being held by a competitor. 

Are Businesses Currently Holding Both?

There are certainly cases of businesses holding both.  For example the global IT services company DXC Technology, a $20 billion revenue company, operate on their direct match across the dot DXC.technology, but they also own DXCTechnology.com that they use for redirection to their main site. 

However, in most cases the company moved to a new extension, and kept its previous .com for redirection and legacy purposes.  The DXC case is a bit unusual, in that the company was formed through an amalgamation in 2017 of the enterprise services segment of Hewlett Packard and Computer Sciences Corporation, and they went directly to the .technology extension based domain name for the new merged company.

This week we saw a set of linked domain purchases HeyMoney.com and Hey.Money

This week we saw a set of linked purchases that seemed to be a company acquiring both the new extension exact match and the .com version of the name.  The NameBio Market report for Oct 2, 2019 included both the purchase of HeyMoney.com for $40,000 and Hey.Money for $8888.

Both purchases were through Sedo.  I do not know if the seller was the same, or if a Sedo broker coordinated the sales from two different sellers to one buyer.

Interestingly, at the time of writing, both domains are parked, indicating the possibility that this was a domain investor set of purchases.

Advice to Business Owners

If you own a business I would suggest that it is prudent to look into whether a direct match new extension exists for your company name and is available. I will in a forthcoming NameTalent post provide a listing of some of the more common extensions, and also look at the special cases of the .inc and .company extensions.

If you own a business I would suggest that it is prudent to look into whether a direct match new extension exists for your company name and is available.

If you are a startup without yet a final name determination, you are in the good position that you can consider names where both forms of the exact match are available, possibly even at minimal cost. I covered this in a previous post at NameTalent.

What About Domain Investment?

The natural question for domain investors is whether it makes sense to hold both forms of exact match and to offer them to end-users as a package. I think, as with most questions in domain investment, the answer depends partly on costs and your time horizon. Right now, I would say that demand for the shorter new extension direct match is weak, but it is hard to predict the situation in five or ten years time. 

Does it make sense as a domain investor to hold both the .com and the new extension (or country code) direct matches, and promote them as a package sale?

If you can obtain the second form with limited extra cost, I would recommend doing so.  This argument holds both for legacy investors, who might look at the matching new extension, and for new extension investors, who might determine whether the similar term is available in .com.  

I have done this personally for a handful of domains in my portfolio. For example, in my portfolio I hold MelodyScience.com that I see applicable to a company that uses artificial intelligence in music creation or analysis. I also have registered the domain name Melody.Science and hope to sell them together to the same business. The dual availability is one factor I look at in new acquisitions. I have not yet sold a package however, although I only have a few currently. I have sold names to end-users who used the name to secure an exact match pair of .com and new extension alternatives.

Not Just New Extensions

This issue does not apply only to new domain extensions. For example, had the company name been Widget AI for an artificial intelligence startup, then holding the pair WidgetAI.com plus Widget.ai makes sense.  Similarly a global gaming company might hold both the .gg and the .com, a consumer experience company with CX in the name might consider both the .com and the .cx, and so on.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the definition of exact match and whether we should be looking at it more broadly.

  • Do you see a business advantage of holding both forms of an exact match?  
  • Do you hold any pair in your portfolio? 
  • Have you sold any sets of domain names?

About the author

Bob Hawkes

Domain analyst and commentator with particular interests in quantitative analysis, new uses for domain names, nontraditional end users, and bridging the gap between the domain community and end users. Background in science, research, education, outreach and communications, as well as almost two decades running a small home-based business. My first domain name acquisition was 2001. I hold a modest domain portfolio with legacy, country code and new extensions. Based in western Canada, but my domain outlook is global! My goal is to provide fresh insights and an evidence-based balanced outlook on the domain industry.

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