Getting a catchy domain name that features an important keyword used to be easy back in the day. Nowadays, however, that’s not the case. According to DNIB1, we ended Q2 2023 with 356.6 million registered domain names. This number makes it rather difficult to find a memorable, short, and brandable domain name with the right extension that’s still available.
That’s where premium domain names come in. Many of the registered domains are put up for auction so that someone can purchase them and create an online business out of them. Some of these premium domains can easily go over millions of dollars, and in this article, we’ll go over the most expensive domain names in history.
The Most Expensive Domain Name
In the 2000s and 2010s, the global community was already well aware of the scale of the internet and how much impact it has on our lives. However, the news of a domain name sale changed the whole perspective of owning domain names and how much money can be really made online.
That news came in the shape of Cars.com being sold for a whopping $872 million in 2014. Gannett Co. bought a partial share in the business (that revolved entirely around the domain), and the whole company was valued at $1.8 billion.
Although this is not the first 9-digit sale of a domain name, it was the largest one at the time, and it still holds the record for the most valuable domain name ever sold.
Most Expensive Domains Are Not the Most Valuable
Before we jump into the list of the most expensive domain names, note that not all domain sales have made their information publicly available.
For example, we can assume that Stake.com and Backlinko.com went for a seven- or eight-digit figure, but we don’t know the exact number, and therefore we won’t include them in our list. Many experts claim that over 75% of domain name sales go unreported.
Another aspect you should bear in mind is that the most expensive domain names are not actually the most valuable ones. This is a list of domain names that were put up for sale and have been bought.
For instance, Google.com is immensely more valuable than any of the domains in the list, but it’s never been on sale. Since you’d probably need to buy the whole company to own the domain name, it’s hard to value it on its own.
Top 20 Most Expensive Domain Name: Case Study
Since not every sale’s information is public knowledge, it’s difficult to estimate how many domain names sold for $1 million or more. Still, we can confidently say that it’s at least in the hundreds.
Check out the list below to find out the top 20 most expensive domain names:
|13||Sex.com (2006)||$14 million|
|14||Sex.com (2010)||$13 million|
NOTE:Some of these sales were company acquisitions and not purely a purchase of domain names. It’s hard to tell what percentage of the valuation domain names made up for, but since you couldn’t buy the domain name on its own, we decided to include them in the list nonetheless.
What Does the List Tell Us?
There are a variety of factors that affect a domain name’s price, such as:
- Domain length,
- Domain age,
- Previous use,
- Domain type,
- SEO ranking,
As you can see from the list above, the top-level domain (TLD) is crucial. The top 20 most expensive domains all had a .com extension. Using a popular TLD (such as .com, .net, .org, or .us) can increase the value of a domain.
Furthermore, all of the domain names (except for Tesla) are common keywords people search for all the time. This is what makes them valuable. When someone wants to buy shoes online, they’re more likely to click on Shoes.com than RandomStoreName.xyz.
How to Get Started With Domain Investing
Registering domain names with a view to selling them for a higher price is a practice called domain flipping. It can be a legitimate form of income that you can pursue full-time. However, note that the domain name market is extremely saturated. If you’re looking for a [keyword].com formula, you’ll quickly find out they’re all taken.
Domain investing, at its core, is quite simple. All you need to do is:
- Choose a domain name that’s catchy and available,
- Evaluate the price (whether buying a premium domain or registering it leaves enough room for profit),
- Register or buy the name,
- Put it for an auction,
- Complete the purchase.
However, that’s not all there is to it. You need to do market research constantly, find new trends in internet searches, and spot available domain names with resale potential. You can also combine keywords.
For example, artificial intelligence (AI) is now all the buzz. It’s likely someone will soon figure out an AI-powered financial tool and might want to buy fAInance.com or AInance.com. Note: these are just examples; both domain names are already taken.
TIP:Just like buying stocks or cryptocurrencies, domain investing is speculative in nature. There are no assurances that you will profit from registering a domain name. Only invest if you’re willing to take a risk.
What to Avoid
In 2016, Elon Musk acquired Tesla.com for $11 million. At first glance, this appears to be a great money grab by the original owner.
However, avoid going down the same road. If you register a domain name that’s the same or similar to an existing trademark, you’re committing cybersquatting. The company that owns the trademark can sue you, and you’ll need to pay infringement fees, as well as hand over the domain name for free.
The reason Tesla.com wasn’t cybersquatting is that the domain name was first registered in 1992, way before Musk started producing the same-named cars. If you had Meta.com before Facebook rebranded, that wouldn’t be cybersquatting. But, it’s illegal to register, say, ChatGPT.shop now in an effort to take money from OpenAI.
A valuable domain name needs to be easy to spell, catchy, and use a recognizable TLD. If you want to make money selling domain names, you need to find an available domain name that contains a keyword and uses a trustworthy TLD, such as .com.
Domains like Cars.com and Business.com have not been available for decades now, and the domain name market is getting more saturated by the minute. Still, if you’re creative enough and do your research, you can hit it big.