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May 16, 2008

Buy Domain Names For the Long Haul

(Connectict Law Tribune - May 5, 2008)

Domain names, if you haven't heard, are the next "real estate" boom. While law firms have made up a small sector of the Internet up until now, domain name ownership is very big business. And like condos in the early 2000s, there are many speculators looking to buy up domain names and flip them for a profit when someone wants their little piece of real estate.

This speculation game is very relevant to the new lawyer (and seasoned lawyer) because now, more than ever, domain name selection has got to be part of your short- and long-term marketing plan, as well as a slice of your operating expenses.

And this real estate is no longer limited to domain names. Now you must protect your real estate in social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Failure to secure your name on these social media sites can be costly as you may find others impersonating you or pirating your following.

You might be thinking: "I don't know what kind of law I want to practice or what the future holds."

From a dollar and cents perspective this doesn't matter. If you even think you want to practice personal injury law in Connecticut, spend the $8.99 or $9.99 for one year and secure domain(s) which reflect the practice area and the state or county. (It has been proven wise to enter a geographical designation in your domain name.) Consider the language of your clients when describing why they need legal services and be creative with domain names, too. For example: (I don't know if they exist, just blue-skying) IneedawillinWaterbury.com; cantpaymybillsinBristol.com. Clever URLs also act as advertising on business cards, sponsorship banners and more.

If you ultimately want to let the domain lapse in a year because your location or practice area has changed, don't renew. But plan for realistic eventualities in your future and be creative.

And certainly protect your personal name because nothing is worse than building up your credibility and people are now searching for you by name and someone else owns the domain name and it is redirected to a gambling or a porn site. (Are there issues of cybersquatting when someone buys your name and can you sue? Sure. But the point is, avoid the issue today for a few dollars rather than buying your name back for thousands of dollars or initiating a lawsuit that will cost even more to pursue.)

Tip No. l: When you start searching for URLs, don't do it on a site like GoDaddy. Do it in Google. Why? When you decide on names you want to purchase and are available, then go to a purchasing site and be prepared to purchase right then and there. I have heard too many stories where the person goes back to the purchasing site, even 10 minutes later, and the domain has been purchased. I'm not sure how the mechanism is triggered, but why risk it when there is ample opportunity to do your homework on Google?

Tip No. 2: If you buy several domain names, spend the extra money and have them all redirected to your main URL. Why? When you buy a domain you are not using, the host will park it for free but set it up as an advertising page. This stinks. Pay the money for the redirect until such time as you use or release the URL. If in the future you want to redirect a specific domain to another site or a different landing page on your main website or blog, you can do so.

Buy your domain real estate now. You'll be happy you invested.•

(For Solo Practice University E-zine subscribers, this post is an excerpted version of Lesson #12.  Lesson #12 includes numerous links and additional information which was not included in the Connecticut Law Tribune article.)


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Tim H

I often use the website http://www.domainsbot.com/Default.aspx . You can start typing in the domain and it will tell you instantly if the domain name is take or not. And if you find a suitable domain name that is not taken, there is no worry that a bot will buy the domain similar to godaddy's practice.

Larry Port

Early on in our company's evolution we were exploring the name Otus (it's a type of owl) for whatever silly reason and wanted Otus.com. The fellow domain-parking it wanted to sell it for $75,000.00.

Can ya believe that? Otus.com for 75 grand?

We ended registering a couple of dozen on 1and1 for 6.99 each.

Susan Cartier Liebel

Tim, I'm still suspicious of sites that search for you and swear they are not feeders for speculators. I prefer Google.

Larry, it is amazing what is already bought up and I get concerned for new lawyers who don't appreciate spending the few dollars to protect themselves.

There are cybersquatters and typosquatters (instead of Xerox.com they buy Xrox.com or Xreox.com so they can draw the business from people who make typing mistakes)...don't go crazy doing that...but protect your name and future practice area and geographic possibilities.

I own several for my name, Solo Practice University and Build a Solo Practice. It's just part of operating expenses today and should not be neglected because failure to pay attention to internet real estate can cost you big money exponentially over the life of your practice.

Larry Port

All I know is I'm going to do my kids a favor and register their domain names.


Hi Susan,

This is one of the best written articles I've read about domain importance to a legal business from a layperson.

However, there are still many misconceptions about the domain industry, it's power, and that power is available to anyone who wants to capture it.

Many of my clients are attorneys, especially in the real estate area, who are seeing the rewards of owning "keyword specific" domain names that reflect their business.

I read that you were paying to divert your other domains to your main website. There are free systems to allow you to do that. Also, domain names can be purchased from GOOD registrars for an average of $7 - $10, depending on how many domains you want to own.

A quick lesson: if you own a keyword generic domain that costs you $3,000 to buy from an "aftermarket" (someone who already owns it), but it matches your business services, this investment is better than taking out a small short-run newspaper ad because the domain name works for you forever (as long as you keep it renewed). If your legal practice deals with divorce law, and you find out the owner of the domain "DivorceLaw.com" or "DivorceRate.com" is getting 100 people a day typing in that domain, that's 3000 eyeballs a month that could be looking at your website. What would you pay to buy that domain? It's worth $50,000 easily. If your visitors aren't in your area, you can rent those eyeballs to other attorneys with redirects to their sites that earn you commissions.

When you realize that there are literally thousands of people who make $1000 a day just owning domain names, and the major corporations (like Johnson & Johnson) buy domains to build their whole brand on (Baby.com), you begin to see the necessity for your business to invest in owning domains. Whether you find them "new" or buy them in the "aftermarket", your investment is always working for you. Domain name financial benefits are still one of the least understood and known treasures on the internet.

again... great article.

(Normally, I wouldn't 'advertise' a site in my comments. However, the articles on this author's blog are very worthwhile reading and informative)

Tim H


I am only recommending the domain name because I have experience with it and I used it to search domain names. I simply type in the word but I don't press enter. It will tell you instantly if a domain name is available or not. With my experience I would say it is about 95% accurate in the availability of domain names. It takes about a day or so to update newly bought domain names. I have searched domain names this way and days later it was still available.

I have had problems with godaddy before in the simple fact that I searched for a domain today and the next day the domain was already bought. However if you monitor the domain name, 15-30 days later it becomes available again because the person (or bot) that bought it gets no traffic and releases it again into the wild.


It's always great to read articles about the importance of domain names, especially when written by an unbiased "outsider."

Regarding Tip 1, I always heard the same stories of registrars "stealing" domain ideas from people, but always had a hard time believing there was a secret team of people at GoDaddy whose sole job was to monitor who is lookups and snag the good ones. While I've never experienced the 10-minute situation you mention, I have gone back a few hours later to find names taken. But considering the huge amount of people registering domain names at any given moment, it would be pretty ignorant of me to think my ideas are mine alone. With that said, I check my names with Moniker.com's bulk checking tool just to be safe.

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