1. There are no margins in the domain industry. Start thinking about building a hosting company. Your site is cool, but weebly.com and heroku.com are real businesses. I work full-time for Facebook, not IDS. (BTW, Facebook is hiring people like you, message me at http://www.facebook.com/beau if you're interested.)
2. It needs to be faster. For example, to squeeze another few hundred milliseconds out of our search, we built a distributed search infrastructure described here: http://instantdomainsearch.com/articles/faster_domain_name_s...
3. You should search names listed in the aftermarket and include them in your results. I've worked with http://www.buydomains.com/ for several years, and am happy with them. I can make an intro if you'd like.
4. Consider extracting words and doing a basic thesaurus search. We're doing something like that at http://instantdomainsearch.com/suggestions/
Hope this helps!
When you say "there are no margins in the domain industry", I assume you're talking about registrars and how domain names don't make them money, hosting and other services do, yes? LDS is not a registrar; revenue is purely through the affiliate links. Assuming people use them, the margin on this should be decent. It's no Heroku or Weebly, but that's not necessarily the goal either.
There's definitely room for speed improvements; I'll be work on that over the next few weeks.
I'm not sure I want to partner with any of the aftermarkets just yet, but that's not a bad idea long term. And I definitely want to add thesaurus results.
Again, appreciate the feedback.
a) build it so that you can license the technology to people that have made a company out of selling domains (domainsbot.com is a great model to take a look at)
b) become a reseller or registrar so that you can fully deliver the service and collect the recurring revenue.
There's still lots of room for innovation in this space and I think you are leaving a lot on the table if you don't flesh out the business model a bit more.
(obDisclaimer: I work for a registrar.)
The rationale being that you initially build some specific functionality you can't find in the market (feature), over time rounding this out into a product and finally evolving into a business as you understand how to monetize it and where opportunity for growth lies.
You don't need to have your business totally conceived on day one. And in fact, finding where the business lies (or whether you even want to grow your idea into a business) is something you'll have a much better understanding of after a few months of being out there.
Personally (disclaimer: I run the domain search site Domize - http://domize.com) I think it's wonderful we can launch these "just a feature" websites and evolve them into products or businesses over time (or not). These 'better mouse-trap' sites are a fantastic, low-risk way of generating passive income and if you can string a few together you can potentially get to a stage where you can live off them. At the very least, you've demonstrated the kind of initiative and creativity that will provide you with a great talking point on your resume.
Let's not forget, both YouTube (embeddable video for eBay auctions) and Twitter (group SMS updates) started as "just a feature" and evolved into billion dollar businesses.
I guess if I had a summary point it would be "don't be so quick to give away your customers..."
Whereas registrars are paying 10%-20% on sales affiliates generate.
You need to think about whether you can actually beat this margin on your own, taking into account overheads like payment processing fees, customer support, billing issues & fraud etc. Not to mention the hassle of it all.
That's why Beau talks about branching out into hosting below.
GoDaddy make money off domains because they have massive scale, recurring billing, and a hell of a knack for in-cart up-selling.
Personally, I don't want to get my hands dirty with any of that!
My point is simply this: don't underestimate the value of a recurring revenue stream vs. a one-time payout to your business.
With a strong product and good customer service, you can count on a customer relationship for a number of years allowing you to amortize your customer acquisition costs over a much longer term than an affiliate relationship permits.
That said, if you've got the stomach for arbitrage, then go for it - there's a lot of potential for the right business to strictly focus on lead gen and delivery. However, I don't get the sense that this is in the OP's wheelhouse. I have a bias that those with a product focus tend to operate with fatter and more sustainable margins on the basis that its necessary to support their development of the product. Marketing organizations OTOH would never start with a comment like "look at the product I built on the weekend, what kind of a business can we build with it..."
If you want to build a business that focuses on affiliate lead-gen, then this prototype is the wrong place to start. I mean, you might get there accidentally, but its definitely the long way home.
Better yet a white label website that refers business back to the reseller or registrar and can be operated as a subdomain to the resellers or registrars main website ie suggest.registrarname.com. Do this on a monthly fee basis that is reasonable not per name registered.
"b) become a reseller or registrar so that you can fully deliver the service and collect the recurring revenue."
Reseller makes sense. Becoming a registrar doesn't. Using this as the cornerstone of an idea will never result in enough to cover the ongoing costs.
There should be a lot of value in being the first site people visit when searching for a domain name though. We'll see.
GoDaddy et al might replicate your functionality. But they won't replicate a look at the competition for the business.
Better yet, be a brokerage portal. Get registrars to bid directly for the work. You also provided curated search on "best registrar" questions -- fastest, reliablest, fewest / most stolen domain problems.
If you can work out some means of obtaining good names held by squatters, that's better still -- and a real value add that would be harder to replicate. (I actually have some idea along this line.)
Why try to run a registration business when you're already good at generating traffic?
relying on the affiliate model feels like a betrayal in the UX and it essentially hands over one of the most obvious ongoing revenue streams to the registrar. Why not take that margin and recurring revenue for yourself? Its not like its hard nowadays to set up as a reseller - getting accredited is slightly more complicated, but it you can make it as a reseller, then even that hurdle becomes pretty achievable.
People thought that about search too until Google came along.
About three years ago I built and launched Domain Pigeon, a web app that listed available web 2.0-style domain names each day . The site did fairly well, but it was my first foray into web apps and I lacked the experience to grow it into something bigger. Eventually I moved on to other projects and closed Domain Pigeon down, which has been one of my biggest regrets.
My original vision for Domain Pigeon is what Lean Domain Search now is: you type in a search phrase and the app would pair it with hundreds (in this case 1,000) keywords to generate domain names and show you which were available. I lacked the technical skills back then to do bulk domain search quickly, which is why I settled on simply generating web 2.0-style domain names. Fast forward a few years and I've picked up those skills so I decided to take some time off my other apps and finally build this tool.
Hope you guys like it. Let me know how I can make it better.
The best solution I've found is checking against the zone file, but I am curious what you're doing.
It's fine to use DNS queries as part of the checking process, but if you get a NXDOMAIN, you need to follow that up with some kind of check against a WHOIS server or root zone file (which is slower and harder to work with).
I clicked on five random ones marked available but always got '... is not really available' when I clicked 'Double check availability of this domain'
If there was a checkbox that said 'take more time but be sure of the available ones before showing me the report', I would have checked it.
Since you asked for some feedback, here's my two cents: I'd like to be able to sort the results by having my search term at the front or at the back of the domain name.
Highlighting the difference between verbs, nouns and adjectives is also something I'd like to see, taking a page from the book of http://impossibility.org/
The execution is simple and easy to use. I'd be conservative when it comes to adding features or futzing too much with the UX. I find the color scheme very readable, although of course that might be different for some people. Thumbs up from me.
A post-search filtering mechanism might be useful, although of course you'll want to balance the benefit of a feature like that with the impact it would have on the elegance and simplicity of the design.
I've considered adding Domain Pigeon-style domain names to a separate section of Lean Domain Search, but as you note there's also a lot of value it keeping it simple ("do one thing well"). So we'll see what people want.
Agreed on the post-search filtering. Other than alphabetical and by length, is there any other way you'd like to filter it?
Added two filter options for ya'll: alphabetical and by length.
Suggestions (I may be wrong):
1) I don't like very dark sites, yours look nice, but anyways...
2) I have no idea how you check the domains, but: In case you get your results one by one, you should display them while they were loaded (instead of that "loading" screen)
All of the results are returned at once so it wouldn't make sense to show them individually (go JSONP!).
I added an option to double check its availability on the registration dialog.
Superior in practice: http://www.bustaname.com/word_maker
Though I prefer where you've started.
Also, your favicon is... suggestive of something entirely different. Perhaps a less literal image would be better?
Anyone else seeing very faded sidebars like that? I don't know what would cause that; if you have the technical skills do inspect it on your end to find out, please let me know.
Can you elaborate on what specifically you like better about bustaname?
I like BustAName's AJAX-powered containment of the features, though a redesign is in order.
Aside from design considerations, you may want to look at how you can point users in the right direction before they arrive at the results page and then have to starting filtering or start over to achieve more desirable results.
For example, you could offer corrections to potential typos. If a typo is not detected (or disregarded), provide some likely criteria for the eventual results, starting with common scope limiters for domain names.
I acknowledge that your product name is "lean" but there are possibilities for domains that I can safely opine that a significant majority of users will be uninterested in, and I'm not sure from the results page effectively communicates whether those have been sifted out or not.
Seems there is still demand, and room, for simplified domain search. Cheers!
There are also a few patents on this concept if I can find the link to the patent I will post.
One comment I have on your site is that you give to many choices (it's not lean) on one page and there is no organization to the choices. Also similar to what others do there should be a way to enter a secondary characteristic.
Oh, here's a bonus benefit to your site that I just noticed and a new place to market using the site.
The ratio of red-registered to green-available is helpful in determining how valuable or in vogue a domain name is that contains a particular word. I would compute a ratio of green to red.
(see as a test "search" or "social" vs. some other less popular word like "opthamology")
Also you don't appear to be checking the actual word that is entered to see if that is available. And you aren't indicating which TLD's so I'm assuming all your suggestions are in .com
Example: "Found 1000 available domains containing "ycombinator""
Regardless, it's quite nice, and I'm already very jealous of how quickly you're doing the bulk lookups. It is much faster than my implementation.
There's a surprising amount of overlap, which tells me we're either both very right in a lot of aspects, or both very wrong. I'll take the optimistic route and figure we're both doing things right.
Best of luck. It's certainly a needed tool (IMHO).
It's great to have tons of inputs and tons of results, but we need a tool to get all these great results into a funnel that at the end you can easily spot a great name.
1) Modifiers to minimize results like max chars in the domain name.
2) Take the word or phrase the person typed in and throw it into reverse dictionary  and then take those results and re-run them through your site (ditto for thesaurus.com).
3) Option to remove a result when one word ends and another starts with the same letter and try reversing to see if available (ie ramppart.com).
4) Option to include tons of different mythology dictionaries  and include names where definitions include the user's inputed word/phrase.
I just added an option to sort by length, which should take care of #1. #3 is also a great idea -- I'll see what I can do.
Can you walk me through how #2 would work in practice?
So, this is like my unfinished domsrch.com, my experience is that people don't really need this service this much and there are some others that already fill the space.
I definitely wish you to succeed where I failed :). I just wouldn't leave my day job which is why I am saying it isn't a startup.
I am relying on affiliate revenue for income and like it or not, GoDaddy is the largest registrar in the world. That doesn't mean its inclusion is automatic, but IMO GoDaddy is not evil enough to warrant removing it. Thoughts?
With only GoDaddy and NameCheap (who I love, btw), it's likely to give a lot of business to GoDaddy from people who don't really have a preference or know much about them.
I understand your point about affiliate revenue, whatever my personal opinion about GoDaddy might be. Personally, I do think they're evil enough to warrant removal, but I'm just one person, and it's your site.
Adding more registrars might be a reasonable compromise.
IMO, they are evil enough to warrant removal.
I wonder whether they'd be willing to work on an affiliate deal with you. And others here could probably suggest more registrars that would be worth including.
Seeing GD in your list (at least it's not at the top) was disheartening. They seem very evil indeed, and not just in recent action.
Maybe you count as "available", domains for which the .com is taken but other gTLDs are not?
Personally when I search for a domain I'm only interested in .com, but maybe you could let users choose what TLDs they care about?
For complicated reasons, sometimes a registered domain will show up as available. This should only happen in less than 1% of cases and I'm working on reducing it to zero.
Anyone can make a list of words: that's the trivial part. What you are "selling" (even if for free) is the capability to verify availability fast; you need to deliver on that promise for the whole thing to have any value.
I'd say the value is even negative when registered domains are shown as available, because then it's wasting users' time.
(Sorry to be blunt but I don't know how else to put it).
a) IDS does searches as you type and displays the availability immediately. Yes, it displays affilate links, but you can find an available domain and register somewhere else if you like.
b) pilom isn't affiliated with the site
It's not clear from looking at the results what TLDs\ each result is, though it appears to only return .com. What about all the other cool TLDs like net/om/us/etc.
Also have you seen this: http://domai.nr/
Was fast, which is appreciated!
For example, "fotoflow" is listed as an available domain name but it is actually taken.
In any case, this is a very useful tool - thanks for posting.
A few things I noticed while using other services -- none had all of these in one place:
- It would be handy to be able to sort by number of characters, etc.
- some places allow adding of common prefixes/suffixes
- Can you do a search of more than 1000 keywords via button to do the next 1000?
- In the case of searching a common word, I only got ~30 available domains out of 1000, it would be great if you automatically threw another 1000 behind it.
- Another registrar a lot of people use is moniker. Whatever I register through your site I'll use the referral link because you're saving me time
Nice app, I've bookmarked it!
- Added sorting options (alphabetical, length)
- Added filtering options (starts with, ends with)
- Added a Moniker registration link
Will eventually add more search results; want to make sure this holds up first.
Another thing that crossed my mind you might want to think about. When I go to alot of sites, I wonder if they're one of the offenders that steal people's searches (by tracking which generated domain they click on how many times), and then go register the domain behind the persons back after a few hours if they don't do it right away... only to make it available for sale at a profit.
Maybe a clear definition of "How we make money" is a good idea. Maybe it's just me, but I think that might not be the case.
There was a bug that caused the "Double-check availability" results to show that every domain name was registered. I just pushed an update that corrected this so it now returns the correct results.
Perhaps you could do a colorblind mode that uses red, blue, and yellow (out of simplicity's sake) to indicate availability? It'd make your service way more useful for me :)
I think I may have found a bug - either that, or I don't understand what this site is meant to do. I searched 'media' and one of the available domains it found was 'medialounge.com'. Thinking, 'holy crap, that sounds like the kind of domain that I would like', I took a trip over to my registrar. Turns out that that domain is not actually available. Let me know if you need some system info and I can email it to you....
For example, the term you're searching against is only showing up 4 times, when it appears over 1000. It works fine in Chrome 16.
It's useful for times when you see a name you like but want to find the reverse combination.
Good thing is I also got some very interesting domain names which were indeed available, so kudos for the nice work.
I searched out Code (http://www.leandomainsearch.com/search?q=Code) and tried to register codejet.com ,which was shown available by you , but, it was already registered. Similarly, I tried to get Codehit and again, it failed. Could you please explain?
$ nslookup codejet.com
server can't find codejet.com: NXDOMAIN
$ whois codejet.com
Whois Server Version 2.0
Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net
for detailed information.
Domain Name: CODEJET.COM
Registrar: GODADDY.COM, LLC
Whois Server: whois.godaddy.com
Referral URL: http://registrar.godaddy.com
Name Server: No nameserver
Updated Date: 20-may-2011
Creation Date: 01-jun-2000
Expiration Date: 01-jun-2012
I added a "doublecheck" link on the registration dialog box that allows you to confirm before following through to the registrar.
I do think the mass of green at the top of the results is a little... too stunning. Do you think the same thing could be achieved with colored text and/or colored borders for each div and/or something else along those lines?
Any recommendations on the shade of green/red to make it?
I'm not sure what your backend looks like but I wrote this python script that uses a thesaurus lookup to find similar words for further name inspiration. It also has support for dropping vowels if the user wants.
Pass me your email address if you'd like a copy, I'm not doing anything with it.
FWIW, I plan on adding an option to automatically search for synonyms down the road.
Eg: current searches doesn't append the word "get" before domain string. But, I sometimes do that, while I search for a domain.
So it would be nice to have an option where users can add optional strings they want.
I agree with the others saying this is a feature rather than a company. It's an awesome feature though :)
Otherwise, very nicely done. I tried several searches and had a few reasonable-ish domains come back.
1. For registered domains check to see if there's actually a live site. This would narrow the list of domains that could be purchased.
2. Also for registered domains check to see if the domain is for sale or auction.
Even if there's not a live site, that doesn't mean you can simply purchase the domain name.
Also, my gut says that most people don't want to pay a lot for their domain names and would not use the sale/auction availability indicator.
That being said, if more people are interested in it I can look into it. Would you mind adding it to the suggestions page?
I am impressed with how quickly it checks 1000 domains. Care to share any of the technologies used to build it?
But I see how you would need a two column layout (or something) for the results of longer search terms.
Lean Domain Search now tracks the false positives (registered domains that show up as available) and will no longer show them on subsequent searches.
So obviously, get more domains available.
It's a great service though, if you can make it more useful.
I added an option to doublecheck the availability when you click an available domain name. Hopefully this will save you a bit of energy.
The lookups may need to be fixed -- the first two "green" domains I clicked when searching for "mobile" were actually taken. However, "green" means available, right?
for example, use tricks from poetry: assonance, consonance, alternate spellings, break the provided words into syllables and return names with multiple words that overlap on the last syllable one word and the first syllable of the next, do connotation analysis
Also, why did you shut the pigeon one down?
I shut it down for a few reasons, primarily because Preceden (http://www.preceden.com), the tool I built after it, was doing quite well and I wasn't disciplined enough at the time to run two sites at once. Live and learn.
Though it wasn't clear to me, that it only searched for .com domains (until the 3rd time I tried, where I saw the note to the right of the results).
A nice feature would also to filter on the max. length of the suggested domain names.
i wonder if amazon predicts their supply chain based on search results.
I always use http://instantdomainsearch.com
I have no time waiting around for POST results.
Consider AJAX as the next item on the TODO list.
It would make more sense from a usability if I could then continue filtering the list down more and more.
Domaintools' name spinner just gives better results, and immediately tells me about availability for all the .tlds as well.
So I guess step one would be to get your tool at least as good as that.
Excluding the other TLDs, how are Domain Tools's results better? Looking through the 20 that you linked to, they seem much poorer than Lean Domain Search's, though I admit I am a bit bias.
Also, IMO other TLDs do not make good website names. They confuse normal people, which is why I did not include them in the Lean Domain Search results.
"Doesn't stack up well" and "get your tool as good as that" aren't very constructive phrases, as feedback goes.
What goals do you have for a tool that others meet, and this one does not? Where do you see Lean Domain Search falling short? How are the others better, specifically?
I just tried the name spinner you linked to, and while it has some features that LDS lacks, it seemed to focus more on synonyms and similarities than actually including my keyword or string in the domain. I especially disliked the "show more results" link, which left me unclear on how many results were really available. I don't want to spend my time clicking blindly in hopes of finding something, I'd rather just see the full list.
The multiple TLD availability is an extra feature LDS doesn't have, but not one I'd find useful. Personally, if it's not a .com, I'm not interested. That could just be me, though.
I much prefer the simple and elegant approach LDS has taken.
For me, I'd rather see synonyms for the words I include than random words tacked on to either side of it. I also want to see all the tld variants of the name itself.
When I'm searching for a name for a new product, I'm in a flexible frame of mind, and the words I toss out for suggestions are not carved in stone. I expect them to be sent through a thesaurus and given back to me in every conceivable combination. Usually one of those unexpected combos ends up being the one I go with.