Domains, domains, domains. Who doesn't wish they could go back to the pioneering days of the Internet, pick up few money making URLs and do some cyber squatting old school style in one of the few get rich quick schemes that actually worked? Well, those after a second chance may get one of sorts when the Internet name governing body, ICANN, blows the field wide open later this year.
The plan is to allow anything.thatanyonewants at all come some time in the summer when the details and legalities are ironed out. According to a report put together on this so-called liberalisation of the Internet by Future Laboratories, as commissioned domain name registrars Gandi.net, the idea behind the move is to increase choice, promote innovation and spur competition. In reality, of course, it's also a possible chance to strike it rich again. So, here are a few tips on how to pick a new domain name that might just earn you a tidy little sum.
Tip 1 - Localise
For the consumer, one of the real advantages of blowing the net open is to get more obviously relevant results without having to think about it. Hotels.com is one thing but suddenly hotels.london looks like a more valuable option.
As far as Google goes, this could put a few noses out of joint - particularly when some companies might have paid a hell of a lot for SEO to get themselves high up the rankings. If people trust the new domain names, will they bother using search engines in the same way any more or has the idea of the URL as an inquiry tool been killed off by Google already?
Interestingly it could be that it's Google that accidentally brings that relevance back, with the search box and the address bar being in the same space on the Chrome browser that the company has been pushing so hard.
Tip 2 - Pick a few big hitters
With more scope, you might not be able to pick up quite as much cash per domain and there are potentially more ways around a cyber squatter, but there will still be a few big hitting URLs out there that people would like to get hold of. Pizza.delivery might be a good choice or pizza.delivery.london if you want to combine a couple of ideas.
Tip 3 - Protection money
Another by-product of this liberalisation of the Web is that it's possible heaven for phishing scammers who can buy subtly different domains to real ones. Baclays.bank and such other typos might now be wide open for purchase.
Normally, in defence, large corporations either trademark to the extent where they own all establishedname.whatever domain names out there or simply buy up all those already lost, and that presents an opportunity once again for the cyber squatter. Naturally, using brand names is where you'll encounter the most legal issues when trying to convert your domains to cash, but should the relevant company not see this change coming - as, according to the report, the vast majority do not - it could be the source of some quick cash.
Tip 4 - Puns & Jokes
Like the protection money scheme, these are again high risk options, but for the reason that no one might want them this time. Pick a good joke or something catchy or memorable and you could be quids in though - provided the industry is big enough to afford buying you out. Hairdressers.comb might be amusing but sex.cum is more likely to sell.
Tip 5 - Likely searches
The Gandi.net/Future Labs report turned up that the top five suffixes that consumers find appealing are: 1) .music, 2) .yourcity, 3) .sport, 4) .your profession and 5) .brand. So these might also be a good area to get thinking around.
Of course, should ICANN do its job right, then cyber squatting might well be made impossible. Either the registration process might require some sort of proof of relevance or there may be a clause about lack of use of the bought domains, or it may just be that it's easier for companies to claim appropriate domains as we've seen in a few cases in the past.
So, rather than treating this as your meal ticket, if you're going to have a go, just enjoy grabbing a few domains like you might have a flutter at the races. It's a bit of fun. Don't spend too much, don't expect to win, but back the right blend of bankers and long shots and you might just see a return.
So, any ideas you'd care to share in the comments or are you keeping them scribbled down for when the walls come down?