Before creating my website, I did not even know that buying and selling domain names, or even domain name speculation were a thing. There is a big market for it, similar to the housing market. When searching for a nice domain name for my website, I noticed that several short and memorable names were quite expensive. Out of curiosity, I typed those names into the address bar of my browser and went to the actual websites to check them out. To my surprise, those sites contained nothing but some advertisements and a big noticeable phrase, “domain for sale. Make your offer”! I did some research into these abandoned sites. It turns out that those domains are called parked domains, and the sites are just a landing page. They either belong to individuals or domain brokers. These people buy a bunch of functional web addresses and leave them unused until they can find someone to buy the domains at top prices. The domain sellers, often big companies, can be very patient. They are willing to hold on to great URLs for years if they do not receive good offers. They are not creating any value for the internet. They act as a middleman.
I am personally not too fond of this practice of domain name speculation. People who genuinely want to build their websites cannot find domains that match their ideas and intentions. They often end up choosing an uglier version of their desired names or choosing a name that is entirely irrelevant to their website content, while all the great names are still sitting somewhere out there undeveloped. The domain name of this website is a good example. If you look at it, happytime.org, the domain has nothing to do with the web content. Besides, it has the dot org extension, instead of the dot com. The dot org extension is generally associated with non-profit organizations. As you can tell, my website is personal. I choose this name because I could not find any satisfactory alternatives. I am as well obsessed with common names that consist of generic words. I was making an effort to come up with the right name for my website, and this domain was the closest thing I was able to find that was still available. I was thinking of using my name for the web address. Nonetheless, it would be hard for a lot of people to pronounce and memorize it because it is in Vietnamese. What if there are people who want to navigate directly to my site? Ultimately, I want to capture all the type-in traffic by having a catchy domain name.
Unmemorable domains or the mismatch between website content and domain names as a result of domain name speculation can harm website owners concerning search engine optimization (SEO) and website visitors’ trust. It is also more difficult for internet users to revisit the sites that they like. This circumstance has occurred to me multiple times. For instance, there was a website about accounting that I found useful. Sometime later, I needed to learn more about an accounting concept. I wanted to visit that site again, but I did not remember the website domain names because it was just a random name. I tried to search for the website on Google. However, there was no luck. I should have bookmarked the site or something. That is what happens when people rely too much on Google for everything.
Search Engines’ Drawbacks
This paragraph as nothing to do with domain name speculation, but I felt the need to bring this subject up in this post. Regarding problems with search engines, it brings me to the second point that I wanted to make in this post. The websites and information that are ranked high on prominent search engines, such as Google or Bing, are not necessarily the most valuable. The sites that appear on the first pages of search results are mostly due to their excellent SEO work. There were a lot of times that I found low-quality content at the top of Google search results. Some of the standard SEO tactics are: write posts that have more than one thousand words, add internal links that connect various pages on the same site, add keywords, etc.
While Google uses these factors as its main ranking algorithms to my knowledge, I do not think they add much value to the visitors of those websites. Google is doing an excellent job at including relevant content in its search index, but a medium job at showing useful information. Back to my previous example, where I was searching for an accounting site, but I could not find it, all I saw was huge chunks of crappy articles on the first few pages of Google. These posts were long, wordy, and contained repeated ideas. Some of the paragraphs in the posts were completely off-topic. Although I understand that the authors of the posts wanted to make them long and filled them with as many keywords as possible for SEO purposes, their practices destroyed their readers’ experience. Because of these posts, I had to spend more time on my search to find what I was seeking. Generally, I think domain name speculation and SEO are ruining the internet.
The Anticipated Dead of Domain Name Speculation
While I have been upset with this domain market, I do not think it will last long under the current development of the internet and technology. First, big businesses have come up with plenty of new domain extensions, also known as generic top-level domains (gTLDs). These gTLDs can range from something like dot academy to dot zone. I have browsed through the list of latest gTLDs and found some weird ones, such as dot ninja and dot pizza! Who would ever want to use dot ninja extension for their websites? Despite the unpopularity of these new extensions, they can still weaken the demand for dot com, dot org, or dot net to some extent. Thus, domain brokers will have a harder time selling their inventory. The market for domain name speculation will gradually decline. Second, even though search engines are not perfect, and we should not be complexly reliant on them, they are still dominant over direct domain addresses access. This dominance also reduces the needs of popular domain names. Website owners can always do well if their sites’ ranking is high for targeted keywords on Google.
Third, the renewal price of domain names is increasing. ICANN removed the price cap of the dot org extension in 2019. It means that in theory, the registry of dot org, the Internet Society, can increase the price as much as they like. Before the change, they could only increase their rate by ten percent every year. While this is bad news for website owners like me because it increases the maintenance cost that I have to pay yearly, I am glad it is happening. Domain brokers will have to meet any charges incurred to renew the domains on which they have been squatting. An annual increase of a few dollars will not affect me much as I have only one domain. However, for domain businesses who may possess hundreds to thousands of web addresses, their costs will go up sharply. Finally, more and more people use apps on their smartphones to satisfy their needs instead of visiting the actual websites of the app developers. This trend would ultimately lead to the dead of websites. If sites are dying, what chances does the domain market have?
To summarize my long post, the market for buying and selling domains is terrible for website owners and the public in general. In addition, we should not be dependent too much on search engines because they are not perfect. A lot of website owners take advantage of their SEO techniques to promote their sites, but they do not have high-quality content. This is not good for many of us who use Google daily to look for stuff. Lastly, the domain market is dying under the ongoing trend of the internet.