November 23, 2014  
 
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Choosing a Domain Name

 

Does Domain Length Matter?

Conventional wisdom has it that a short, memorable domain is essential for website success. We analyze domain name lengths for the most popular websites. The results of our domain length research may surprise you!

Do you have to have a short domain name to be among the most popular websites on the Web?
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We took the most popular sites on the Web and did a little analysis for you. This is based on the top 1,000,000 websites as defined by Alexa, as reported on a random day in Q1 2009.

On an important note, be aware that we define website domain length to be the number of characters before the first dot. So, for example, Gaebler.com has a domain length of 7, Yahoo.com has a domain length of 5, Google.com has a domain length of 6.

There are some problems with this way of defining domain length, but with a dataset of 1,000,000 sites, it seems that the imperfections in the methodology are not material. Feel free to crunch the numbers yourself and see if you get different results.

OK, time to cut to the chase. Here are some key findings for our analysis on website domain length.

Domain Lengths for the Most Popular Websites in the World

It appears that size does matter when it comes to doing well on the Web.

Most Popular Websites Have Shorter Domains

Based on the data below, the most popular websites those in the Top 50 Websites List have approximately 6 characters in their domain name. However, as you get to the "less popular" domains in the Top 1,000,000 Most Popular Websites List, the average length gets progressively longer. For the entire million, the average length is approximately 10 characters.

  • Top 5 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 6.0
  • Top 10 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 6.1
  • Top 25 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 6.0
  • Top 50 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 6.0
  • Top 100 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 6.2
  • Top 250 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 6.4
  • Top 500 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 6.8
  • Top 1,000 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 7.0
  • Top 5,000 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 7.7
  • Top 10,000 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 8.0
  • Top 25,000 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 8.4
  • Top 50,000 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 8.7
  • Top 100,000 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 9.1
  • Top 250,000 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 9.5
  • Top 500,000 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 9.8
  • Top 1,000,000 Most Popular Websites
    Average domain length = 10.1

On an informational note, the longest domain name to make it to the full Alexa Most Popular Websites list had 63 characters. In fact, there are a few with that length. But the top honor for domain lengths of that length goes to thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com, which ranked at #87,356.

In the Top 100 Websites, the longest domain length is 17. That honor goes to adultfriendfinder. They ranked #63 in the list.

Of course, the big question is whether this is causation or correlation. Despite what you might have read in Economist Blames Twitter for Recession, we actually do understand that correlation is not causation. That piece was a satire, people!

Does having a short domain make you more likely to succeed?

Intuitively, it makes sense that people will be more willing to type in a domain that is short rather than key in a domain that is tediously long. But there are a million other factors. Domain names have to be memorable, for example. A short domain that cannot be remembered easily is much worse than a long domain that you'll never forget.

While having a short domain can be helpful, it doesn't at all guarantee popularity. There are plenty of very short domain names in the bottom 100,000 of Alexa's Top 1,000,000 Most Popular Sites.

Another factor that comes into play is money and branding. Short domain names tend to be more expensive, so the fact that an organization has a short domain is an indication that they have money to spend. If they've got money to spend, it may be that they've invested a lot of money in branding, in which case that will certainly help them to do better in the rankings. But one might argue that even with a longer name, they could rank just as well if they spent a lot on branding.

Long story short (sorry for the bad pun), it appears that having a shorter domain name is better than having a longer domain name. But there's no magic formula to doing well on the web. Innovation, hard work, passion and other attributes are probably much larger determinants on how your website will rank versus the competition.

Related Articles

Want to learn more about this topic? If so, you will enjoy these articles:

Cybersquatting
Benefits of Country Specific Domain Names
Domain Name Speculation


Conversation Board

What's your take on domain length? Does a longer domain name put you at a disadvantage? We welcome all comments below.

Gus 4/24/2009

Not to mention that the shorter domain names were taken 1st, and therefore have been indexed by the search engines for a longer period of time (on average).

Domain God 4/24/2009

When I look at the data I see that the top 50 most popular sites all spend money on building/promoting their brand. Think Hulu, Yahoo, Google, YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. It's hard to build a memorable brand if your 28 character domain name is where-do-I-buy-cheap-iphones.com

Vijay 4/24/2009

I would much rather have a 5-letter domain that sounds and looks good than a 4-letter domain that makes no sense. At the end of the day, it's simply the fundamentals of marketing and branding that apply.


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