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Sheffield - The Steel City in a Golden Frame

City of Hills and Rivers at work and leisure

You could own the prestigious premium domain name sheffield.co.uk

The name is no longer required for purpose the name originally served. 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 price that reflects its value.

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

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

What factors affect the value of a domain name? The ideal Domain name has seven primary features and a further two :

  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
  8. What does the name say about you?
  9. How much do you want the name?

Sheffield.co.uk fulfils all of criteria 1-6, 7, 8 & 9 are more subjective, I’ll expand on the list below.

All names meeting those criteria 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 release unused names. The UK domain name registry currently runs to about 11 million names.

1 It is short

If you search really hard you may still find a 3 character name, usually a mix of letters and numbers like q9w.uk, yes its short but fails in most other respects!  That example ends with .uk rather than the more familiar .co.uk? Yes the “bare .uk” names (without the .co element) are available, most are owned by whoever owns the corresponding .co.uk name, some prefer to use the slightly shorter version but most just hold it to prevent a third party buying it and perhaps using it to their detriment.

2 It is a single word

Two word names are far more readily available but can be confusing.  There’s are story that a pen shop allegedly called Pen Island bough the name penisland.com (don’t try it), less open to misinterpretation might be pen-island.com (hyphens are permitted in domain names and can be useful to avoid confusion but they are unwieldy and widely avoided).

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
Your preferred single-word name will only be available if the current owner is willing to sell. Even good unregistered 2 word names can be hard to find.

4 It is memorable

This is a tricky one.  At one extreme a random collection of characters isn’t memorable although an “organised” string of letters might be.  Top row of a keyboard is an example: qwertyuiop.co.uk
Some made up names are successful but it’s usually taken significant marketing activity to become familar. One common approach is to use words with some or all vowels removed: Flickr, Tumblr, Scribd, ckbk (cookbook) 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, presumably paying quite a lot to the previous owner.

 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? tesco.shop is available (at time of writing). Why not buy that? Numerous reasons:

  • Expect a letter from Tesco’s lawyers.
  • Nobody is going to find your web site (except Tesco’s lawyers).
  • Visitors need to know your address is tesco.shop otherwise they’ll guess and go to tesco.co.uk or tesco.com
  • 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.  Worse, they can start at an affordable low cost 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 would 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 the disadvantage of the .co.uk owner.
  • You could buy a .co domain.  (.co is the country code for Colombia).  Apart from the issue of possible legal disputes from the owners of similar names in other TLDs, you’ll find your visitors and emails going to, typically the corresponding .com or .co.uk addresses.  That’s because people are so familiar with .com and .co.uk that they’ll type that in. There can also be an issue with Google search.  Google try to localise search results.  Someone in the UK  searching might find google gives higher prominence to example.co.uk than example.co
    Sheffield.co.uk sees the other side of that issue, Sheffield university has the domain name sheffield.ac.uk as a result dozens of emails a day, intended for their students, come to sheffield.co.uk I informed the university many years ago but nothing changed so I just blocked them.  As there are no corresponding email addresses at sheffield.co.uk those emails don’t reach their intended recipients.

6 It has positive connotations (and no negative ones)

  • What I mean by negative 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 (after “where do you want to go!) when you’re on a foreign holiday? “Where are you from?” and the taxi driver’s response will often reference one or other football team.
  • Sheffields two Universities have 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 Sheffield 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 but with a price tag probably in the £thousands.  Anyone who claims that domain names do or do not affect search results is a liar, the detail of Google’s seach algorithms is their most closely guarded commercial secret.  My opinion is that domain names are strongly indicative of probable content and that it would be odd for them to choose to disregard that signal.

8 What does the name say about you?

Ownership can denote scarcity and status. 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.  Ownership of rare and unique items is something people do place a high value on. People hold rare postage stamps, they are usually hidden away in special storage: dark at 12℃ and 50% humidity.  Why? We often hear of artworks being sold for £tens of millions but you can adorn your walls with a perfectly good print of the same painting for a few pounds.  Why own the original? The owner of the original values it for what it implies about him, it signifies wealth and status. The same applies to many other categories of collectable, not only is the intrinsic, functional value far less than the market value but also the cost of ownership can be high – environmental storage, damage insurance, prevention of theft.
The highest published price paid for a .co.uk domain name stands at £600,000 for gold.co.uk Does that name (used by a site selling precious metals and coins) deliver a significant advantage over other such UK dealers?  When I search for buy gold uk on Google, gold.co.uk, at time of writing, comes third (below The Royal Mint and bullionbypost.co.uk) in the PAID listings only 8th in “organic” (unpaid) results so was it worth paying that much for the name?  I (and the current owner) would say yes, the price paid was not primarily for the functional aspects of the name but for the inherent prestige and uniqueness.

9 How much do you want the name?

This is largely subjective.  You’ve read the 7 primary factors.  You are looking for a name that fits as many of those as possible.  The problem is that the name you want is owned by someone else.    The current owner will also have an idea of the value. For a highly desirable name that may be more than you’d like to pay.  If an offer garners any response it may indicate that there’s scope for negotiation.  In that case you need to decide the maximum you’re willing to offer.  The vendor will have some idea of the minimum he’s prepared to accept.  Negotiation is a matter of trying to establish if the buyers  maximum is greater than the vendor’s minimum without either party disclosing those figure as the buyer wants to pay as little as possible while the vendor wants to get the highest price.  If asking the vendor “how much do you want” gets any response at all it will almost certainly be much more than you’d wish to pay and is at best an opening for negotiation.  On the other hand if you make a carefully considered offer it indicates that you do understand the value of the name, you’re not a chancer hoping the vendor doesn’t understand the value  and that you are open to negotiation.

But the name I want isn’t in active use: It makes sense for the owner to hold on to an unused name if the perceived value is substantially more than the few pounds a year it costs to hold it.  It probably is for sale for the right price.

What if the name is in active use? In that case you are buying more than just the name.  It may have a good Google ranking, it may have an existing user-base, it may be part of a functioning business.  That complicates things considerably.  The valuation needs to include whatever the current usage implies. Broadly speaking it’s likely to imply a higher cost but perhaps offset by corresponding benefits.

Names as holders of value: There’s a history of transactions being made by exchange of valuable items, perhaps as a way of avioding attention.  In a country suffering high levels of inflation, it can be preferable to hold “savings” in the form of  non-currency assets that will hold their value better, gold being a common choice. “Secret” payments have been made by transferring the ownership of a postage stamp valued at £thousands.  Premium domain names can be used the same ways.

“Domain names don’t matter, everyone uses search and clicks links to find web sites” This line is usually spouted by people wanting to sell you a rubbish domain name.  It’s a tempting line when you have the choice of  paying £thousands for the perfect name or £20 for a garbage one.  Even if your need is for a name for your hobbyist web site or maybe a local club, something meaningful and relevant is best.  In that case there’s no need to  compromise by using an unusual TLD, instead look for a two or even three word .co.uk name.  For example a local group of railway historians might sensibly choose SheffieldRailwayHistorySociety.co.uk (that is exactly the same as sheffieldrailwayhistorysociety.co.uk it is perfectly acceptable to mix capital and lower-case letters, it avoids confusion and avoids the alternative of using hyphens). That way you can meet 4 of my 7 criteria (and #3, not a single familar word but at least a combination of familiar words).  True, it’s an unweildy length of name, but your members will have a bookmark and it’s so long and unique that it may rank high in search results so for many visitors it will be a “single click to access”.
Good multi word names can be valuable, I’ve recently been involved in helping a client negotiate the sale of a 2 word domain name, the initial offer was $7,500, after some negotiation the final agreement was for a price of $30,000.

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 don’t 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 what I consider an optimistic £225,000, I’d expect an offer of half that would at least get a response, perhaps the vendor would be willing to negotiate.  The highest published price paid for a .co.uk domain name stands at £600,000 for gold.co.uk

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 little or 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 sheffield.co.uk, leave a voicemail at +44 114 299 8237