David Goldstein - Does Size Matter? SIDN Finds Domain Name Readability Is More Important Than Length


    It’s long been held that the shorter domain names are more valuable. And yes, when one looks at the charts of domain name sales, the shortest domain names do command the highest prices. But there’s a scarcity of short domains. In .com you’ll normally pay well into the six figures for a 2- or 3-character domain name. But the launch of new gTLDs has shown that it’s not always about the length of a domain name. SIDN, the registry for .nl domain names, has published some research that finds the average number of characters in a domain name is getting longer. They’ve also found that on average city new gTLDs such as .amsterdam and .hamburg seem to be doing better than those that opted for abbreviations, such as New York's .nyc and Barcelona's .bcn.

    So why isn’t a short domain name so important? SIDN surmises “that's mainly because the way we use the internet has changed: people don't type domain names as often as they used to. Now, there's much more emphasis on 'reading'. In 2012, PCs and laptops were still the main devices that people used to go on line. Back then, 69% of all internet users said that they regularly typed domain names to open websites. By 2016, the smartphone was dominant and only 33% of users were still typing domain names. Meanwhile, 95 per cent of respondents in a global survey reported judging search results partly on the basis of websites' names and extensions.”

    So what matters most is how recognisable the domain name is, not how long, or short, it is. “So works better than wml.ams, despite being much longer. For the simple reason that you can see what it means straight away.” Length does matter though if the domain name is too long for the internet user to see it on the screen of their mobile phone. A domain name, including the TLD extension, of up to around 30 characters, will be readable on most mobile phones and include a subpage. Above 40 characters, the readability rapidly declines.