I bought a Generic .CO Domain Name, Was this a Mistake?

by Adam Yamada-Hanff

Recently I bought a single word generic .CO domain name.  I thought it was an excellent purchase for the following reasons;

  • The word gets a decent amount of monthly searches in Google.  (Although it's not a competitive word advertisers bid on.)
  • Like I said above, it is a single word English dictionary generic term that is used often.
  • People know how to spell the word and understand what it means.
  • This generic .CO domain name was available to register.  I bought it for $12.88 through NameCheap (read my NameCheap Review by the way) and not from someone who already owned it or in the domain aftermarket.
  • I tried to buy the word in other domain extensions but I was not able to secure anything.
  • It's a great term for the type of website I want to build.

I don't want to reveal what the domain is because right now I lack the time and resources to launch this web project.  I thought it was a pretty good buy and purchase since tech start-ups absolutely LOVE dot COs.  The most notably example of a .CO domain in use would be the short social video service Vine.CO, which is owned by Twitter.

The rain on my parade began when I started telling friends and relatives about what I thought was a great domain purchase.  I said “Hey, I recently bought this genericword.CO domain. What do you think?”  Most people did not care or probably just thought, “Adam is crazy!”  One relative's response was telling that going with alternate domain extensions may not always be the best plan.  This is how the conversation went down;

Relative: What is a .CO?  What does that stand for?

Me: I believe it was the Colombian domain extension but .CO is open for global use nowadays.  So I was able to buy it.

Relative: So you registered a domain name for Colombia?  Why?

Me: Anyone can register or use a .CO domain.  It's a popular domain extension among start-ups and tech companies nowadays.

Relative: Why would you register that?

Me: Well… that's what was available and what I could get for a reasonable price.  You've never heard of .CO?  I thought it was pretty popular and they have done a lot of advertising for it.

Relative: I don't pay attention to domain names!

While this was probably the harshest reaction at least he was being honest with me, which I appreciated.  I know I shouldn't let others make fun of my awesome domain purchases…. but the conversation did make me feel like a bit of a tool.  Did all that .CO advertising just make it seem like it's a better domain extension than it actually is?

.co domainWhat was surprising to me was this person uses their smartphone for working out, listening to music, making online orders, and the list goes on.  If you were to ask them I would imagine they feel they are very “tech savy.”  They still had no idea what a .CO domain was or had heard about it.  I thought this was interesting and they didn't even think my generic .CO domain was all that impressive.

Of course this person does not build websites or has any experience doing this.   So it's hard for these people to understand the problems you have when you are trying to find a suitable domain name for a website at decent price.   I'm sure others reading this article have tirelessly searched for domains and have run into the same situation.  Most domains are probably waaay out of your budget and you start looking into alternative domain extensions but often those are out of your budget too.

Granted .CO has only been available for global registration for a a few years but it seems from the talks I've had with others it's probably best to stick with better known domain extensions like .COM, .NET, and .ORG.  I guess these are the “Big 3” in the domain and internet world.

After I bought my domain name I started searching for other generic terms and phrases out of curiosity in the .CO domain extension.  What I found out was that the .CO registry apparently holds back a lot of premium .CO domains and terms so they can sell them to serious web developers or companies with cash.  They want to sell the premium .CO domain names and make the big bucks, which is understandable, so I feel I was fortunate to register this single word dictionary .CO at least.

What do you think I should do with my good generic .CO domain?  Keep it?  Wait for people to realize .CO is a better domain extension than .COM since it's one letter shorter? 🙂  I'd be interested to hear people's opinions, comments, and experiences.

I could always try to sell it down the road.  Since venture capitol backed start-ups love .COs and generic terms go for decent money from what I've read.

Even though I paid $12.88 the .CO domain that was introductory first year pricing.  The renewal fees are $22+ at most registrars, like NameSilo and NameCheap, for .CO domains.  That's not a lot of money but it is if you have a domain name you are not doing anything with and you own a lot of other domains you are paying to renew each year.  The .CO registry charges a higher renewal fee on purpose because they want you to “Use it or Loose It!”  This strategy probably works and if I'm not going to use it I'd likely let it drop.

What do you think about .CO domain names?  Have you registered any or bought a .CO domain from a private seller or domain marketplace?  Have you built any sites on a .CO domain?  Was the website successful?  By that I mean people liked it and it made money.  What about generic .CO domains?  Do you like them or not?

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  • there are so many other extensions other than co. Has any extension been able to go up to the ranks of com/net/org?

    Not any I know of. Owners of co registrar did a very good marketing and you bought their marketing.

    Many big companies use non-generic domain, but they have millions of $$ to market them Do you have that? Can you make such a business a household name?

    Also, this co domain clearly looks like a misspell. You write it some where and the general population will think you missed the ‘m’ and they will add the ‘m’ and visit the site.

    Do let me know what you think of my opinion.

    • Appreciate you commenting and sharing your thoughts Sonu.

      Some would say that a .CO domain is as good as a .COM/.NET or .ORG domain. This is probably due to all the marketing and advertising .CO registry has done as they clearly have been doing a good job. I recently read the registry was bought out by Neustar so it will be interesting to see if marketing tactics will change at all. I don’t think they will though.

      I always tell people it depends on what your intention is when you buy a domain name. If you have a site that is supposed to be used mainly on a smartphone start-ups might prefer a .CO since it is one letter shorter. Also if you are targeting certain keywords and mainly looking for search engine traffic than a .CO domain probably would work ok. If you are looking to create a brand or product, which most people are, probably not a good plan.

      Considering that a lot of country code top level domains (ccTLDs) utilize a .CO, I could see how some might buy them as a safety net or just want to have it for the possibility of future use. This includes South Africa (.co.za), Untied Kingdom (.co.uk), and New Zealand (.co.nz). There are probably other countries but those are the ones that come to mind.

      For most people, like my relative, it’s still not something in their mindset. Funny you mention people thinking that a .CO domain is actually a just a misspelling and that people forgot to add the “M.” After I wrote this I went Googling and found a bunch of examples of companies saying that they went with a .CO and there was a lot of confusion. In the end they wish they had gone with a more mainstream domain extension.

      Since the idea behind this website is it would be a great tool people would come to love and share with their friends, word-of-mouth marketing would be key. I don’t have a big marketing budget which is why I was focusing on finding a good domain name to start with. If I had millions of dollars in a marketing budget I probably wouldn’t be worrying about having to hunt for a good domain name and then writing about it on this blog. 🙂

      The global availability for .CO domains opened on March 1st, 2010. It will probably take several more years for people to really learn and understand there is “NO M!”

      In the meantime maybe I’ll go with a .ME domain.


      Or even better a .IO domain, which is probably the geekiest domain extension you could use.


  • Without knowing the domain no one can tell about the value or quality of that particular domain.

    However, I personally like .CO and it’s doing good. Sold few of them and one was in five figures.

    • The .CO extension is doing really good and I see more and major companies and sites using it. It just seems like with the whole Overstock disaster with O.co the world still needs time to absorb it.

      You sold a .CO domain for high five figures or low five figures? That’s pretty damn good Abdul. Can you divulge what industry it was for and what the company did with it? Is it all under NDA?

        • Nice sale Abdul! Wish I could sell a .CO domain for that much money.

          The price makes sense in my opinion. Textbooks are definitely a big and profitable industry for book publishers. Seems the new owner just uses the domain for a forward to another domain. I find it odd they have not done anything else with it. Oh well, it’s their $12 thousand dollars.

  • Hey sugar.. here is a STUPID question from a tech-dummy.. I boguht my domain name a while back but haven’t figured out how that can work with blogger.com… eeekk.. do you just write on the domain? I’m lost.. if you can help I’ll make it worth your while… with more than my eternal gratitude! Maybe something for Roo or you?