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Lean Domain Search Now Checks the Availability of 2,000 Domain Names per Search (leandomainsearch.com)
117 points by llambda on April 2, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 57 comments

Can you link to anyone besides GoDaddy? I'm sure you've noticed the many reasons around the tubes lately on why not to use them.

GoDaddy is the default because it's what most people use.

You can change it by clicking 'change your preferred registrar' link below the red button on the confirmation dialog.

Just because GoDaddy is what most people use doesn't mean it's what most people should use. On top of all the SOPA nonsense, GoDaddy has remarkably sexist and degrading ads. I'd encourage you to set the default registrar to be a different registrar by default - maybe Namecheap?

There's a huge drop off in affiliate revenue from GoDaddy to the next most popular registrar. Making Namecheap default would inconvenience most the users and cause a substantial drop in my revenue.

I appreciate where you're coming from, but I'm not sure the pros of switching outweigh the cons.

So, it's not really that most people use GD, but that they offer the highest affiliate rates.

Maybe offer people a choice between GoDaddy and/or Namecheap. If you offered Namecheap I would buy domains through your site all the time :)


He's arguing practicality over principals. Suppose he switched to Namecheap and makes a third of his current revenue. Because of this change, the site operates at a loss and he is eventually forced to shutdown the service.

Which would you prefer? His site no longer being around, or be slightly inconvenienced by changing the default provider via a dropdown box?

You're assuming your principles are both universal and correct. The former is not true and latter is debatable.

I don't mean to sound divisive but certainly on this forum GoDaddy is considered harmful to users due to it's willingness to shut down domains without due process. While it's unfortunate that other registrars cannot match the referral fees, it would be considered welcome to issue a warning that GoDaddy has a bad track record when it comes to supporting domain holder's rights.

Wow, this is an amazing service! Somehow I missed this the first time it was posted, but I'll definitely use this for all my domain hunting in the future.

I'm curious: how did you pick the "other keywords commonly found in domain names"?

1) Get ahold of a zone file listing all the registered .com domain names

2) Pick five common words

3) Scan the zone file, noting which registered domain names start and end with one of those common words.

4) Now parse those results and pick the words that are joined with them to form domain names (ie, the prefixes and suffixes)

5) Scan the zone file, noting how many domain names start or end with those prefixes/suffixes

6) Filter that list for the ones that occur > n times

7) Randomize the resulting list of prefixes and suffixes so it's not sorted by popularity

8) Add 100 per week

Very cool, and a clever algorithm!

I've been playing with the site, and the sheer number of results can be a bit overwhelming. It might be neat to help address that by grouping together the suggested domains into categories of roots?

For example, there could be Places roots, filled with roots like hub, spot, -ocity, etc. There could be Frugal roots, with roots like cheap, cheapo, bargain, steal, etc. There could Newspaper roots, which add words like Observer, Times, Post, Chronicle, etc. to the users input. Other users could also create their own Roots, and share them... it'd be a great way to encourage community and create stickiness. If I have my 100 favorite Roots categories saved to your site, I'm much more likely to continue to use it to hunt for new domains.

When I search for a keyword, the results could be displayed in conceptual groupings (i.e. the different Roots categories)... that would help me quickly scan the results.

Just a thought... feel free to use or disregard. I'll definitely be using your site in the meantime!

This is a really excellent idea.

If you (or anyone reading this) is interested in categorizing the 2,000 modifiers like this suggests, please drop me a note: matt@leandomainsearch.com -- I'd be more than happy to compensate you for your effort.

I'd be glad to take a pass at it! Will drop you an email...

This is pretty epic; thanks for making it!

One feature request, though: while almost no self-respecting site would use most of the TLDs out there, any chance you could add in support for domain hacks and/or otherwise give an option to aggregate data for specific non-.com TLDs? I've noticed that a lot of the hipper two-letter TLDs are actually becoming prime real estate (namely .io, .fm, and .am), and they're young enough that a lot of really good names are still available with them.

Great work with your site matt!

When do you update the file containing all the registered .com domain names. How do you handle the registered domains after you create the file?

I like how it returns so many options, but they are a bit hard to read with the green. I did a couple searches and never came across non-green listings, so why the colors? I still prefer the way bustaname.com is set up, although it seems to be getting dated now. Their weak point is recommendations I wouldn't have thought of, which seems to be the strong point of leandomainsearch.

I agree... the green is hard to scan. Also, it would be nice to know what the "default" sort order represents. Seems more random than sorted. :)

I actually A/B tested the impact of a light vs a dark design on the number of searches folks made and the difference was negligible [1]. Agreed through that the default order is something that can be optimized and tested going forward.

[1] http://www.mattmazur.com/2012/02/ab-testing-a-light-vs-dark-...

Love the site, but I'd agree that white on black is hard to read (and so is the green).

A toggle option to change the color scheme (since they convert about the same) would be really cool.

That said, it's your project - do what you want with it! Keep up the good work.

This is a great service. I've already registered a domain using it, and will do some more today. Congrats! I hope you make $1 million!

Thanks. Me too :)

When I was searching for a domain name for my startup idea, it became very evident to me rather quickly that a number of domain squatters have used the dictionary to snap up domain names. Let me first say that I really don't have an issue with someone purchasing a domain that goes along with an idea that they do intend to use at some reasonable future time. However, I do have an issue with those who search the dictionary for every possible domain name that someone with an idea might want to later use in order to later profit off of you and your idea. To combat this, I found myself having to come up with a creative variation of what I initially wanted to use in order to register a domain. In the end, I feel it benefited my creativity and led to a really catchy name. It is nice to now be aware of a tool that can help someone facing this process and hope that it falls only in the right hands.

http://www.domainsbot.com checks way more than 10,000 for every search, doing semantic matching. They have been doing it for years. I'm sorry but I'm failing to see how this is cooler other than the fancy colors.

Cooler, maybe.

But the fact that LDS employs a strategy that consistently results in catchy-sounding, hyphen-free and available domains does differentiate it.

Not to knock domainsbot.com, they do have killer matching algos under the hood (as you mentioned), I don't believe they have false-positives (rarely if at all) and they bring in aftermarket domains to results, but from a starting point like "game", I only get 2 suggestions in the .com namespace (no hyphens, permit related keywords, suffixes and prefixes).

LDS on the other hand brings back 54 domains. I'm not saying all of them are gold, but I would certainly consider "gamegroovy.com" for a gaming related site.

This is likely the case for many other popular / high-value keywords, eg. cloud.

I think that branding is an exercise that requires a lot of creativity supported by a range of tools. LDS is very strong in its techniques.

This one has "lean" in the name, therefore superior.

I use LDS often, but it'd be considerably more useful to me if you relaxed the requirements on the root search to allow fewer than 3 characters and allow numbers. Is there a technical reason why you don't allow short or number-containing searches?

Yep, there's a technical reason for it. I'll work on a resolution for it and make a post here and on the mailing list when its available.

I've used this tool but not yet purchased any of the favorites I saved. I knew a few domains I wanted to buy so went to LDS and opened up the link to the registrar from there so hopefully credit was given (can't freeload).

Only thing I'd change so far is maybe moving the search bar slightly higher on front page, make it and the button bigger and putting light grey text in the search box. But, you've probably thought of all of that already, just my personal style. Anyways, this has been my go to tool for searching for domains since I found it here a month or so ago. Thanks for building!

Glad you like it -- I built it to solve one of my own major pain points: it's very hard and time consuming finding quality available domain names for the products I build.

As far as the search bar positioning, I'll play around with it and see if an A/B test or two indicates it has an impact. Appreciate the recommendation.

Though I understand the idea, I'm not too familiar with how A/B tests are performed in practice. I would've assumed you'd need a lot of data to get statistically significant results. Is the volume of data that you need to achieve that statistical significance well-understood and do you actually have the traffic to collect that amount of data? (I guess I imagined that it would require huge amounts of data.)

Hey Pete. The duration of the A/B test depends on several factors. I recommend checking out this calculator on Visual Website Optimizer to get a feel for how many you need:


Excellent timing! I just spent my last 2 hours searching for a name and 2 minutes after clicking your site, I found one and bought it. Thank you matt1!

I get a large number of false-positives and, interestingly enough, even more false positives for the same search term when searching from my iPhone.

As I click on them all, they stop appearing again, but this is quite an annoying experience. Do you default-to-available if your query to WHOIS times out and nobody has clicked to check that link before?

Hey, I actually figured out a way to fix this and will implement the change within the next several days. False positives should drop from around 10% to around 1% within two weeks.

Awesome. Otherwise the site is excellent.

Very cool, nice to see you have continued to develop the service.

Have you had any thoughts about how you might insulate domain squatters from simply showing up and buying every short domain for common searches?

Also, regarding switching default search registrars... considered making this a paid service? Would help with my question above too.

There's nothing stopping squatters from registering these domain names other than the fact they would have to register so many. That's part of the beauty of it.

Re: making it a paid service -- how would you charge?

I think adding a barrier of having to login would at least get rid of the automated searchers/scrapers that want to register all short domains in a profitable domain niche.

Limiting numbers of searches, depth of searches in free/no account vs having an account and/paying?

I'm not advocating for making it a paid service - squatters will probably pay too for a good service, my wishes for LDS are that it stays relevant in search quality and results for a long time and it can't be usurped by a few people with money -- most of who are squatters.

One rather obvious approach for making it a paid service: talk with a reputable registrar and get them to adopt it as their primary search-and-register mechanism.

Very neat service. Do you plan on adding other commission links , ie: not GoDaddy ?

Thanks -- you can change the preferred registrar by clicking the 'change your preferred registrar' link below the red registration button.

Perhaps the "Register Now With" button could be a drop-down for the registrars, the changing a preferred registrar feels like an extra needless step.

I love lean domain search. I found (almost) metainbox.com there, which was an awesome name for my app.

(I actually missed it and stumbled upon it on my own, but I went back and it was there. There are just so many options!)

Is there a character limit of the domains we can search for? (seemed to me to be 20?).

I know there's a huge dropoff in competition when domains start to get long, but there are a few times it would be nice to have.

Your search query must contain at least three letters; there is no max.

Great service!

Feature request: allow us to add parameters to your url for sorting and start/end with options, instead of just the q present right now, so it can be more flexibly bookmarked and linked.

One great feature would be a price comparison between various registrars. I know that might eat into your affiliate revenues.

Since I always want my app name to match the .com, I rely on this site. Keep up the great work.

When I type in "day" i get:

"Oops, Lean Domain Search's search algorithm failed with this search term."

Thanks -- I track these errors and fix them within a day or two. It's a side-effect of how the search works. Over time the number of results that throw this error should drop close to zero.

This is absolutely awesome. I've had it bookmarked since it was first on HN

I have seen LDS on HN a few times now.

I know generally the HN effect causes a lot of traffic when the post is active but very little increase in average traffic if you remove the days when a post is on HN frontpage.

What's your traffic look like on weeks without a HN post compared to weeks with a HN post?

Traffic is less on weeks when it's not featured on HN :)

maybe its me, but i find it hard to scan across three columns to find a name that pops. perhaps just have the results in a single column? i already found a name i like though, so thanks!

I don't know why the earlier link was killed... but this is a useful service, and frankly, I think much more relevant to startups than all the political links and partisan anti-Apple stuff that gets posted to the front page.

Thanks -- I had someone proofread the post earlier and he mentioned that I didn't have enough sexy numbers. Like, why would I post a graph showing the average search duration had doubled? Why even bring it up?

I responded that I wasn't trying to sell to TechCrunch here -- this is the data I have, some of it good (2,000 results!) and some of it not (average number of searches has not increased). It's issues like these that I think about when I'm trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to fall asleep at night. And I'm guessing it's similar not-always-sexy-world-conquoring issues that keep most other startup founders up at night too.

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