A domain name isn’t just something that people type into Google to find you. It’s a crucial identifier for your brand. The right domain tells people what your company stands for, establishes your credibility in a specific niche, and more. It’s how you carve out your chunk of the internet. Since global spending on digital marketing hit around $100 billion in 2018, it’s safe to say that it pays to be online.
To help you get an insight into just how valuable domain names can be, we’re going to take you on a journey. In this article, we’ll be discussing what makes the most expensive domain names stand out. We’ll also show you some of the most expensive domain names of all time, and how much they sold for over the years.
Often, when new businesses estimate the price of a domain, they expect to spend under $100.
However, if you keep track of the companies that sell high-ranking domain names, you’ll see that many easily fetch tens or hundreds of thousands at auction. As hundreds of millions of top-level domains continue to be registered each year, the right business address is becoming a valuable commodity.
Just like buying the perfect piece of real estate for a brick-and-mortar business, you can expect to pay more for a better position online. Though it’s hard to know for sure what will make one domain more valuable than another, there are some common elements to look for. Here are some of the characteristics of the most expensive domain names ever sold:
- A .com domain: The top-level domain or “TLD” of your website address dictates how valuable it will be. Though there are hundreds of domains to choose from today, .com continues to be the most popular (and useful) option.
- Traffic and popularity: If a domain name has been used before, then the level of traffic that website received in the past is essential. Some of the most expensive domain names for sale are considered “premium” because they have a strong reputation already.
- Length: As you’ll see in our list of the most expensive domain names of all time below, shorter is often better. The fewer letters in your domain name, the less your customers need to remember to find you. Shorter domains are easier to share, more marketable, and they’re attention grabbing too.
- Keywords and SEO: Gradually, businesses are beginning to move away from domain names that include exact-match keywords. However, that doesn’t mean that critical terms aren’t valuable to your digital strategy. Studies by Higher Visibility suggest that many domain names include at least one keyword in their domain name.
- Spelling: It sounds obvious but making sure that your domain name is spelled correctly can improve its value. The most expensive domain names typically have higher price tags because they’re easy to find. Each of these websites come with clear, memorable, and unique titles that your audience should have no trouble tracking down.
- Brandability: This factor is a little bit difficult to define in some cases. It refers to how easy it will be for you to make your domain name “your own.” At Naimeo, we take the brandability of domains very seriously. However, for years, companies forgot all about this factor, and simply named their websites “aaa.com” or 111.com. This was an attempt to gain SEO recognition when sites were listed alphabetically.
If you’ve spent some time exploring the most expensive domain names online before, you might have heard of “premium” domain names. Importantly, there are different definitions for this term depending on who you ask.
To some experts, premium domains are titles with a history online. These domain names have value because they’ve already been in use. During their time with a specific owner, those domain names might have gathered a valuable reputation and following that the company can continue to use going forward. Some of the most expensive domain names for sale are this kind of “premium” address.
However, for the most part, valuable domain names don’t have to have a pre-existing background to be worth a lot of money. A premium domain can also refer to an address that’s valuable for other reasons. For instance, many of the most expensive domain names of all time have sold for millions because they use an eye-catching keyword, or because they have the potential to drive traffic. Even mid-range domains are deemed “premium” when they come with things like a .com domain or desirable simplicity.
The most expensive domain names ever sold are often a surprise to many businesses.
They don’t necessarily belong to the biggest brands in the world. After all, while a domain name can improve or harm your chances of success in any marketplace, it requires work. Your domain address tells your customers that you’re a reliable, credible company that deserves their attention. However, it’s also up to you to build a brand around that address.
When people invest in the most expensive domain names for sale, they’re not spending money on a pre-made company. They’re paying for the potential that the address offers. It’s similar to buying a storefront in the busiest street in the world, where you know your customers are likely to find you. A good domain name sets you up for success.
The potential of some names is so great, that their value is astronomical. For instance, the most expensive domain name of all time is Cars.com, valued at $872 million. Here are some of the other most expensive domain names ever sold:
The city of sin, Las Vegas is a place associated with decadence, luxury, and expense. With that in mind, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that it also has one of the most expensive domain names ever sold. LasVegas.com is worth $90 million, according to its sale figures in 2005.
There’s a good chance that the value of the domain has risen since then. However, most companies don’t share their domain valuations online, so it’s hard to keep track.
People aren’t just interested in fast cars and indulgent weekend breaks. As human beings, we’re often concerned about our safety, welfare, and future. That may be why Insurance.com sold for a value of $35.6 million in 2010.
Today, the website serves as a base for insurance comparison. You can check the prices of everything from motorcycle and car insurance, to home and life coverage too. Originally registered back in 1994, the domain name delivers exceptional value thanks to its relationship with the search engines. After all, what’s the first thing you would type into Google if you were searching for insurance?
Who doesn’t love a little rest and relaxation? Whether you’re an avid traveler, or you just enjoy spending time away with the family on weekend breaks, you’ve probably searched for a vacation rental. Currently, the travel and tourism sector in Britain accounts for just under 10% of the UK’s GDP. It’s due to be worth over £257 billion by 2025.
Brian Sharples, the CEO of HomeAway, purchased VacationRentals.com for $35 million after he realised that a major competitor was also keeping tabs on the same domain name.
Most of us won’t have many experiences with private jets during our lifetime. Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to charter a plane to your chosen destination just for you and your loved ones. However, there are plenty of celebrities, government officials and other rich and famous individuals that have no problem using private jets.
As such, the domain name PrivateJet.com offers significant value to anyone who wants to grab a slice of a very lucrative market. The PrivateJet.com domain was sold for $30.18 million in 2012.
You might not be able to buy the internet, but you can certainly purchase an essential part of it. The Internet.com domain name has the potential to apply to a range of different companies and brands. That’s probably why it ended up being one of the most expensive domain names ever.
Originally owned by an organisation called WebMedia brands, the domain ended up in the hands of QuinStreet Inc through an all-cash deal of $18 million. The purchase also included additional brands owned by Internet.com, including InternetNews.com and Developer.com. When you consider the bonus of the extra domains, $18 million is a great deal.
Number-based domains aren’t as popular today as they once were. However, if you get the right titles, they can give you a wide range of opportunities to tap into. The address for www.360.com sold in 2015 for approximately $17 million to a Chinese investor.
The investor, Zhou Hongyi, CEO of Qihoo decided to strategically unify all of its products and services around the new brand. As a result, he made digital history, with one of the most expensive domain names ever sold.
The Insure.com domain isn’t just a place to track down new insurance deals, like Insurance.com. It’s also home to a host of quotes, articles, and news regarding insurance opportunities. Designed to deliver information on an important sector, the website is one of the most valuable locations on the web.
The website was officially purchased in 2009 by a company called QuinStreet.Inc for $16 million. At the time, it was a sign to online investors that domain names were growing in value once again. Despite the similarity of the existing Insurance.com domain, Insure was still able to become one of the most expensive domain names of all time.
If you visit the Fund.com website, you won’t find much today. In the past, it was a financial services information publishing company. You could use the site to track down details about mutual funds, stocks, and investments. Unfortunately, since then, Fund.com seems to have disappeared from the web, although it’s still not available to purchase.
When it was last up for sale, the domain sold for a massive £9.99 million in 2008, that’s equivalent to about $12.93 million in USD.
You know that sex sells, but did you know how valuable it can be in domain format? Sex.com is a hub of adult content that earned a bid for the significant price of $13 million in 2006. At that time, it was the highest price anyone had ever paid for a domain.
Gary Kremen purchased this domain, an entrepreneur better known for his creation of the dating website, Match.com. At one point, ownership of the site transferred to a man called Stephen Cohen, who used it to earn up to $500,000 per month. Fortunately, Kremen was able to take Cohen to court and win ownership of his domain, along with a $25 million settlement.
It’s no surprise that people believe the internet is a dark and scary place when you consider how many of the most expensive domain names for sale relate to sex. Porn.com was sold in 2007 for about $9.5 million. It wasn’t quite as appealing as the slightly subtler “Sex.com.” At the time of the sale, Porn.com became the biggest all-cash transaction for a website domain in the world.
MXN Limited is the current owner of the website, which probably delivers exactly what you would expect. We’ve refrained from doing too much research for this article.
You probably noticed a few trends when you were browsing through the most expensive domain names ever sold above.
Not only are they all incredibly simple and straightforward, but they always come with a .com domain. That’s not a coincidence. Domains that contain the .com “top level domain” or TLD generally sell for a much higher price than most.
While there are hundreds of suffixes you can choose from for your website today, nothing beats the credibility and impact of a .com address. Since day one, domains with the .com suffix have held the most sway over the digital world. They’re what your audience expects to see when they’re searching for you online. They’re also the domains that Google gives the most attention to.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why the most expensive domain names for sale typically include a .com suffix:
By this point, there are thousands of domain extensions out there. You can choose everything from .co.uk to .info to represent your brand. However, while unique domain extensions may seem novel and interesting, they’re not more valuable than the original suffix. .Com has always been a key identifier in the digital world. As companies continue to appear online, and .com domain names become increasingly difficult to purchase, they’re becoming something of a status symbol. If your audience sees that you’re willing to invest in the highest quality address with a .com presence, they’re more likely to trust your brand.
It’s no secret that .com domains are worth a significant amount of money. If companies are willing to pay whatever they need to have the right impact on their audience, their brand reputation improves. People assume that you won’t have invested in a .com domain if you were just going to scam them out of their money with a dodgy site.
That means that if people are linked to your website by a friend, or they spot you on Google, they’re more likely to click through to your site if you have a .com domain.
Businesses usually have a significant amount of freedom online. However, sometimes, your TLD can come with some restrictions. For instance, you can’t register a .co.uk domain if you don’t live in the UK, as this would be a form of false advertising. Other domain extensions also have acceptable use policy agreements that dictate how far your business can grow, where you can sell, and what you can provide to customers.
If you’re not sure exactly how much your company will evolve yet, a .com gives you the freedom you need. Nothing is holding you back from sharing new content and selling new products if you decide to take your organisation in a new direction.
The better your online presence, the faster your business will grow. That’s one of the reasons why the most expensive domain names ever sold earned the prices that they did. The overwhelming market share of .com domains means that people expect your company URL to end in a .com. If they’re searching for you online, they’ll look for you with this suffix first.
If you’ve made the mistake of buying a domain without a .com because your preferred title was already registered, then this means that your audience could end up on another company’s website.
Domain names are more valuable than most business owners think.
When you’re launching your company, it’s easy to assume that the most important decisions you’ll need to make will focus on what you sell, or who you sell to. However, the truth is that without a great domain name, your customers will always question the quality of your company.
A domain name doesn’t have to be worth millions of dollars (or pounds) to drive value for your organisation. However, it’s important to be realistic when you start shopping for your digital address. If you go out refusing to pay anything more than $100, you might find it difficult to get anything with real worth.
The most expensive domain names weren’t just valuable because they used generic terms that everyone knew. These titles were useful because they were the first of their kind. They were designed with the intent to capture user attention, boost brandability and increase market share.
While you might not be able to afford a domain name like Cars.com, you can still invest in something that has the power to transform your business and take your brand to the next level. At Naimeo, we design our company titles to deliver all the benefits of the most expensive domain names of all time. Each title is intended to capture audience attention, build emotional connections, and even improve your searchability.
What’s more, because we understand the value of the .com suffix, we make sure that every business name we create comes with a .com attached to it. That means that you don’t have to worry about fighting for credibility when you earn your corner of your audience.
You might not need to buy the most expensive domain names ever sold, but you do need to invest in a domain title that has value for your business. With Naimeo, you can make sure that your domain delivers a genuine return on your investment.
To get ahead. Get a great name. From Naimeo.