Domain-Name Appraisal Made Clear at NamesCon 2017

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Michael Sumner, CTO of

What’s your name worth? CTO Michael Sumner led an interactive session at NamesCon 2017 that helped to demystify the domain-name appraisal process. 

“Appraising domains is inherently subjective,” said Sumner: ten different people will give a name ten different values. Retail sales aren’t helpful, he said: comparable wholesale sales have more predictive value.

That gut reaction to a names potential value can be developed, said Sumner, by keeping up on your research. ( made a domain-appraisal game to make the process more fun, challenging you to make snap valuation decisions.)

Pluses and Minuses

Short, memorable, easy-to-spell domain names have more value: this is the radio test. A domain name has to have commercial appeal. Also, does the name make a good brand? Is it rare? For example, there are fewer two-letter names than three-letter names. (This isn’t always a value-add, cautioned Sumner.)

Good keywords in the wrong order are less valuable, said Sumner, such as  Improperly pluralized names, as well as those which are one letter off from a big sale.

Also pay attention to the venue in which a name sells, said Sumner, to see whether it’s a wholesale or retail sale. Check the WHOIS history of a name to see if an investor or end user bought it. You can also check to see if it was developed after the sale: investors don’t develop sites as often.


Sumner advised putting names you’re researching into buckets so you can compare like with like. The buckets he suggested: Short, Dictionary Descriptive, Brandable, Geo, and Names. (A brandable name is one that suits a product of service without describing it directly. Would it make a good business name? In fact, Sumner added, is it already being used as a business name? You can check that via sites like ProductHunt, CrunchBase, and GitHub.)

Adorably Valuable

Chinchilla fans take note: cute animals make great brandable names, said Sumner. the same is true with colors or words with strong visuals.

For geo names, factors like population, median household income and house values, and tourism numbers are important.  For domains reflecting the names of people, Sumner suggested seeing how common or popular a name is. LinkedIn, he says, is better for global data on a name; while the White Pages is good for checking name popularity in the US. Geo plus a keyword is valuable, as we also saw in Steven Kaziyev’s presentation yesterday.

While domain appraisal will always be subjective, you can prepare yourself to navigate those murky waters with these tips. Sumner’s was just one of many instantly-helpful presentations at NamesCon 2017.

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