If your company or startup has a four-letter name and still needs to register the corresponding dot-com domain name, you may be out of luck—unless you’re willing to spend a fortune for it.
All possible combinations of four-letter “.com” domain names, even jibberish ones like XKJD.com, have already been claimed, according to WhoAPI.com, a Croatian company that analyzes domain-name data. Many of them are likely owned by “cybersquatters” who buy up domains in hopes that someone will pay top-dollar for that name. WhoAPI.com determined that there are 456,976 possible four-letter combinations of the 26 letters of the alphabet and all of them are already registered domains. “Not to mention that three-letter and two-letter domains are long gone,” the company writes.
Short URLs are often desirable because they’re considered more memorable and easier to type into web browers than longer domain names. WhoAPI said that it didn’t include non-letter symbols like dashes and numbers, so it’s possible four-letter combos using those are still available.
What does this all mean for startups and small businesses today?
For one, it means you might want to reconsider giving your business a four-letter name, unless you’re willing and able to spend the money to buy the corresponding domain name. (Hint: You might want to do a little research on who currently owns that domain name, whether it’s available for purchase and, if so, what’s the asking price.)
Another suggestion is for companies to replace one of its domain-name letters with a number to avoid having to deal with a squatter's demands. But that approach comes with risks: You don’t want customers mistakenly landing on other businesses’ and individuals’ web sites, containing who knows what. One could get a domain name with a different non-.com extension, such as .biz or .net, but that also comes with similar concerns.
A new option for businesses is to register a generic, descriptive extension, such as .pizza or .accountant, that describes what the business does. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN) began allowing new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) last year, and many domain registrars, including GoDaddy.com, planned to begin offering them, according to InformationWeek.com.
The good news: There are many five-letter combinations still available in the .com space, according to Slate. And the importance of having the ideal URL for your business is diminishing as people use Google and social media more to find web sites, rather than typing domain names directly into the web browser bar.
Read more articles on domain names.