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Sheffield - The Steel City in a Golden Frame

City of Hills and Rivers at work and leisure

Is the domain name sheffield.co.uk for sale?

It’s complicated.

The name is no longer required for purpose the name originally fulfilled. That means I am prepared to consider credible offers but before you fire off an offer read on.

The key word is “credible”. In the context of a name like sheffield.co.uk credible means a high price.

Premium domain names like sheffield.co.uk are a scarce and diminishing resource.

The cost of maintaining a name is trivial, I have no compelling need to sell it.

Why do domain names like this attract such high prices? The ideal Domain name has seven primary features:

  1. It is short
  2. It is a single word
  3. It is a dictionary word or a proper noun
  4. It is memorable
  5. It is in a widely recognised TLD (top level domain, i.e. .co.uk or .com)
  6. It has positive connotations (and no negative connotations)
  7. It is relevant to the content of the associated web site

All names matching those were sold many years ago. When any do come back on the market prices are high, typically in the tens of thousands of pounds. The ongoing cost of holding a name is trivial so there is little incentive to continuing to release unused names. The UK domain name registry currently runs to about 11 million names.

Sheffield.co.uk fulfils all of criteria 1-6, 7 is subjective, but let me expand on a few:

1 It is short

If you search really hard you may still find a 3 character name, usually a mix of letters and numbers likq q9w.uk, yes its short but fails in most other respects!

2 It is a single word

Two word names are far more readily available but can be confusing.  There are tales of names like a pen shop called Pen Island having the name penisland.com (don’t try it), less open to misinterpretation might be pen-island.com, hyphens are permitted and can be useful but they are unwieldy.

3 It is a dictionary word or a proper noun

Even some very surprising names are already gone  like rumpelstiltskin.co.uk  or that place in Wales Llanfairpwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch.co.uk

4 It is memorable

This is a tricky one.  At one extreme a random collection of characters isn’t memorable, an “organised” string of letters might be.  Top row of a keyboard for example: qwertyuiop.co.uk and some made up names like google (possibly a mis-spelling of googol which is a dictionary word) or familiar words with some or all vowels removed like Flickr, Tumblr, Scribd are used effectively for widely known websites.  On the other hand Twitter started out as twttr.com only later securing their now familiar dictionary word name.

 5 It is in a widely recognised TLD

Domain names ending .co.uk and .com are universally recognised and are the most sought after TLDs (in the English speaking world).  All the best names are long-gone.  Around 11 million .co.uk and maybe 100 million .com names have been sold.  There are other TLDs, disappointed that tesco.co.uk and tesco.com are sold? then why not buy tesco.shop ? numerous reasons:

  • Expect a letter from Tesco’s lawyers.
  • Nobody is going to find your web site (except Tesco’s lawyers).  They need to know its tesco.shop otherwise they’ll guess and go to tesco.co.uk
  • Whereas most of the original TLDs (like one for each country) are subject to price controls, many of the others are purely commercial, the annual fee can run into the £thousands or can start low but be subject of a massive price hike later (once your business relies on it).
  • Some of the “new” TLDs have been deleted, they are costly to operate and if not generating sufficient revenue they get dropped.  If the .shop TLD were to get dropped your Tesco.shop website and email addresses cease to exist.
  • The UK has long used the .co.uk suffix, in recent years it became possible to buy (legitimate) .uk names without the .co element. Anyone with any sense who owns a .co.uk name now also owns the .uk variant to avoid people being confused or third parties buying the variant and using it to your disadvantage.

6 It has positive connotations

  • What I mean by positive connotations is that there are dictionary words you’d not want to be associated with, curse words for example
  • Similarly there are proper nouns you’d not want to be associated with, for example the names of disreputable characters like Stalin, Crippen, Goebbels, Adolf
  • Sheffield has plenty of globally acknowledged postive connnotations and associations:
        • A global reputation for high quality products including Special steels, Cutlery, Tools, Sheffield Plate
        • The name is globally recognised for its association with the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre
        • The Crucible Theatre is one of the few outside London with a national reputation
        • The names of Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday football teams are recognised around the world. What’s the first question your taxi driver will ask when you’re away from home? “Where are you from?” and the taxi driver’s response will invariably reference the football teams.
        • Sheffield University has a strong reputation for excellence in many spheres of research and attracts thousands of international students. Seemingly every week there will be a segment on one of the long-form Radio 4 news programs or documentaries, maybe reporting on research findings at the university or discusing a recent event with an academic from the university
        • The people of Sheffield are recognised as hard-workers, innovative and resourceful

    7 It is relevant to the content of the associated web site

    Need I say more? What would you expect to find at screwdriver.com? As with many such names, it’s owned by someone hoping to sell it.  It could indeed be a good name for a tool manufacturer or retailer (or a cocktail maker!) but with a price tag probably in the £thousands, a hard decision. 

    The Sheffield.co.uk domain is clearly a premium name and commands a valuation which recognises that.
    I regularly receive offers to buy the name. I no longer respond to small offers, and have politely declined offers in the tens of thousands of pounds.
    Take a look at the prices of comparable names. Liverpool.co.uk was (at time of writing) being advertised for sale at a rather optimistic £225,000.  The highest published price paid for a .co.uk domain name stands at £600,000 for gold.co.uk

    A comparable category of unique item to denote personal status is premium UK vehicle number plates, the highest known price paid was over £500,000.

    How can you use the domain name? There are other possibilities but most commonly it’s an address for your web site and can be used for your email addresses.

    In addition the owner of a domain name can add subdomains (usually at no extra cost). A subdomain is something like shop.sheffield.co.uk, news.sheffield.co.uk or visit.sheffield.co.uk under which completely separate web sites can be operated.

    If you are considering making an offer for the name, leave a voicemail at +44 114 299 8237