What is a Category Killer Domain Name?

2020-02-28T19:09:30+00:00February 28th, 2020|Thoughts|

What is a category killer domain name?

Over the last 25 years some of the biggest domain name sales, and asking prices, are from “Category Killer” domains.

However, what is a “Category Killer” domain name?

Defining this may sound simple but it’s actually quite complex.

Take for example TV.com – sounds like a “Category Killer” right?

Sure. It can be. However, TV is a dated word imo. I never say I’m going to watch TV while streaming a show, and cut cable years ago.

A growing phrase is to say you are going to watch Netflix – which can mean Amazon Prime, Hulu, Showtime or anything streaming. Sorry other brands but Netflix won the streaming verb contest.

TV is also an acronym. Not that a “Category Killer” domain name can’t be both, but it’s worth noting the real appeal may be the branding of such a domain versus a product the domain defines. I mean, how many people want to visit a TV.com like domain to buy or watch TV when Amazon and Netflix exist?

If that’s the case, why call this a “Category Killer” domain name — seems there is more value in calling it something else. What that is, I’m not sure.

How about WeddingDresses.com?

Killer domain for sure. But what is the better domain – WeddingDress.com or WeddingDresses.com? My opinion is only one “Category Killer” can exist to truly be a “Category Killer”, otherwise the domain is not really a killer but more like one in a group of assassins.

So are either of these domains really “Category Killers”?

How “Category Killer” can you be when search results for the term are so inundated with brands that your domain name has almost no chance of competing with the likes of David’s Bridal, Nordstrom etc… without spending gazillions?

The term “Category Killer”certainly isn’t sounding like it will kill anything so far.

What about smaller “Category Killer” domains?

Let’s take VidaliaOnions.com for example.

Maybe you heard of this onion type before. I didn’t until reading the story of Peter Askew who purchased VidaliaOnions.com and made it into a thriving business.

But wait, as I type this, legendary attorney Dr. John Berryhill tweeted that Vidalia Onions is not a category but a certification of onion.

Ok, so Vidalia is not a “Category Killer” and, as expected, I know nothing about onions. Fantastic small business story though so check out Peter’s Onion site.

The point here is maybe your “Category Killer” domain is not really a category after all.

So what is a “Category Killer” domain name?

I know. It’s confusing right. Let’s shed some more light.

In response to the same thread that inspired this article Shane Cultra (aka Domain Shane) tweeted:

Let’s look at this statement: “If its a product big enough to have an entire company built on that one product then it’s a great exact match. The other billion domains are what he’s talking about”

I like the statement but don’t necessarily agree with this either.

If a company just wants to sell Books then Books.com is, on the surface, a “Category Killer”. However, spending millions on a domain which (a) locks your brand into a single product and (b) has more established brand competition than people lining up for American Idol doesn’t sound like the best investment to me.

Sure, owning Books.com is awesome and you have a “Category Killer” domain on the surface. However, do the benefits of having this domain name outweigh the challenges of ranking for your product. Can you really “Category Kill” it?

Let’s say you do kill the category with the domain name. What happens when you want to grow? Is this “Category Killer” domain name now “killing” you from being authoritative on anything other than books?

I’m not sure — Personally I would rather a killer domain like Thrive.com anyday.

Whatever your opinion is I think it’s important to ask these questions (and more) before writing a big check for a “Category Killer” domain and thinking the domain is a magical solution.

So what is a “Category-Killer” domain name?

Who really knows. I think this term is about dated as words like the interweb, CD’s and Cassette Tapes.

Build a killer brand, don’t worry much about category killer domains. A few will win, but more often than not, a better brand can be found elsewhere. Plus, it takes a whole lot more than just a domain name to build a brand.

In the meantime, hopefully somebody comes up with a better name for “Category Killer” domains since the term itself is not killing it anymore.