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New Data Shows Startups Prefer Descriptive, Keyword-Based Domain Names

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For the past few decades, it has been assumed that rising startups would opt for exactly branded domain names ending in the legacy top-level domain (TLD) .com as soon as they could finance the acquisition. However, recently published data challenge this notion. According to data recently shared by Marc Köhlbrugge, founder of startup launch platform BetaList, early-stage startups are choosing descriptive domains more frequently than in previous years.

Over the past decade, start-up startups have increasingly moved away from using .com domain endings, according to Kohlbruggethe data. Usage dropped 20% during this period, from 78% to 56%.

Startups launching on BetaList choose domains that fall into these categories:

  • Two-word, hyphenated or prefixed .com domains (with words like “get”, “buy”, “meet” and more)

  • Marketed country code domains, such as .io and .so

  • Descriptive single-word domains with TLDs like .world, .life, and .finance

Descriptive domains are on the rise

As startups have moved away from traditional domain endings like .com and .net, they have sought out descriptive domain endings to authentically represent who they are and what they do, like .games, .technology, and . funds. The .io country code TLD, often associated with tech startups, claimed nearly 10% market share in 2021.

Although country code domains apply to some businesses, they don’t work for everyone. Many startups choose descriptive domains based on keywords rather than country codes for a more memorable and descriptive representation of their brand. Especially in the entrepreneurial world where innovation is highly valued, descriptive domains have the potential to help new businesses stand out from the competition and make a strong first impression on potential customers. Recent examples on the rise include starface.world, drink.haus and compound.finance.

Related: Why Buying a Domain From Web Developers Isn’t a Good Idea

Rethinking a widely held belief

Some skeptics have emerged amid this shift to new brands embracing new domains, expressing the once-widespread belief that these startups will replace their descriptive domains with .com once they receive their Series A funding — or sufficient capital. to do it. But recent behavior deviates from this thought.

With established brands cementing the feasibility of descriptive domains, newcomers don’t need to invest in expensive new branding to scale. More and more businesses are realizing that they can position themselves as modern and authentic while saving up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars by opting for a descriptive keyword domain.

In short, instead of spending a lot of their seed capital on an expensive .com domain, early-stage startups are opting for more authentic descriptive domains for their brands. Far from being a temporary fix, these areas are at the heart of startups’ branding and marketing strategy, grabbing customer attention and establishing authority in their market.

Related: How to Negotiate the Price of an Expensive Premium Domain

Towards descriptive domains

This embrace of descriptive domains extends beyond the world of startups. Global companies and Fortune 500 companies have also chosen descriptive domains for their digital addresses and brand identities.

Throughout 2020, companies that used descriptive domains with new TLDs received more seed, angel, startup, and late-stage investment than companies using any other type of domain structure. Companies that choose descriptive keyword domains are fully committed to using the domain as their primary brand identifier and therefore reap the rewards of greater investment.

Opponents may not be convinced that the new domain extensions will eventually catch up with .com domains, but even Google itself is confident they’re here to stay. With so many respected visionaries, entrepreneurs, and business leaders already on board, descriptive domains are only going to grow in popularity.

Related: Find the right domain name for your business with .TECH