How long is too long? Is shorter always better? When it comes to domain name lengths, people get very preoccupied with size. If you’re seduced by the small, here’s the scoop on what to think about when counting characters.

Too Long To Type?

How often do you really type out full domain names? Once I’ve visited a site, whether on my phone or computer, my browsers give autocomplete suggestions after the first character, no matter how long the final domain is.

I also visit sites via links, and even when linking to a site, I usually copy and paste the domain if it’s anything but teeny tiny.

Then, of course, there are bookmarks.

So, in many cases, you’ll type the full domain just once. Is it really that inconvenient?

Not Just Short, But Short and Sweet

It’s not impossible to make a long name catchy, but it isn’t exactly easy either. That said, the reason why catchy is good is because it’s potentially easier to remember. Depending on how you play it and how creative you are, long names can be plenty memorable. Take Toothpaste for Dinner. 19 characters I’ll never forget.

Now this is about buying fresh domains, and the potential a longer one can have, using real words to conjure up real imagery the way a short but pronounceable word like… I don’t know… ‘zilpy’ cannot.

But make no mistake, unless it’s a well known phrase or name, or has a ton of content/site along with it, your odds of buying let alone selling a domain of that size are low.

Toothpaste for Dinner is a lovely name, but once you’re going that far, there’s a decent chance you can come up with something decently catchy at that size, if you’re creative. So it loses its intrinsic value.

The Tiniest I’ll Go

Three character dot coms are expensive, of course, and you can maybe have a chance at throwing money at a useless domain like q5j.com. Yay. For three or four characters, you’ll pay good money for dot nets and dot orgs, too. Numbers and hyphens will lower prices, but in most cases they aren’t worth it unless you have somehow found a perfect use.

The shortest names I will buy are 5 characters, because it’s only at that point that anything reasonable becomes at all useful. At five, you can still get some all-letter names that are pronounceable, or that can plausibly mean something, if you get lucky.

As an example, I bought mclol.com for $5 (plus the cost of the registration) from a closeout sale. ‘Mc’ like Irish, and ‘lol’ is lol. Not outstanding, but certainly worth the price for the size, and usable. I suspect in a few years, names of this kind won’t be available at 5 characters, so if you find a brandable 5-letter option for pretty cheap, go for it.

Short domains are fun to look at, and have a legacy as sought after items that to me inflates their price unreasonably. The shortest name I ever bought was pun.nu. Shortest dot com, 5-letters, but a few of them.

Non-Traditional Extensions

I got that 3-letter domain with the funky extension because it was a word and I was intrigued by .nus at the time (which is a story for another day), but in general I won’t bother. They often cost more and I see them just sitting on the shelf never getting developed.

I don’t have experience selling other extensions, so if anyone has thoughts, please weigh in, but to me you’re going to have a hard time selling if that’s the only reason you’re buying.

If you can make a word out of it (eg. shaz.am), then go for it, but your odds are slim for finding anything good, and you aren’t likely to see them for sale in a marketplace, likely because you’re filtering for only the major extensions.

Ok, But There Is Too Long Yes?

I think beyond 20 characters and you’re probably being silly. If it’s just a few large words, you might be ok, but other than that, don’t bother. (fun fact: the largest domain names allowed are 253 characters)

I told you my shortest… The longest domain I ever bought is… 41 characters. But that’s also a story for another day!

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