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In response to my domain name suggestion on meta, Kris said:

Something about having a domain name begin with a digit just feels ... off to me.

  • Does it affect site ranks on search engines?
  • Do you think people will be less likely to visit it?
  • Is this just a programmer response, since most variable names can't start with a digit?
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My comment on meta was purely a subjective observation. Domains beginning with digits feel off ... perhaps a bit non-professional. Of course, if you have an existing business that naturally leads to such a domain, that is fine. But otherwise ... I (at least) wouldn't choose such a domain. –  Kris Jul 13 '10 at 15:24

10 Answers 10

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Well, the people at 37signals or 7dana might disagree with that. If it makes sense to use a number at the start of the domain, use it. If not ... don't. I'd surely hate to type out one-hundred-and-one-dalmations, when 101dalmations would do just fine :)

I think the key here is to avoid nonsensical domains altogether, i.e. something like '303wee' when in fact you are selling designer handbags.

I don't think its going to effect your ranking any more or any less than any other bad name that did not start with a number. A bad name is just a bad name regardless.

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...or 99designs... –  Dennis Williamson Jul 13 '10 at 3:17
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... or 99redluftballons.com ... oh wait, I can still grab that domain! ;) –  JasonBirch Jul 13 '10 at 4:16

Big downside: Having to spell it to people vocally it's very ambiguous. This goes for having a number anywhere in the URL.

So many times I've heard radio advertisements for websites where they have to spell it out:

To take advantage of this great offer, just go to travelwithkidz.com.au - that's kids with a Z - very annoying for everyone involved.

Take for example, 2example.com

Tech Support: Go to 2example.com - that's the number two, not the letters two, so two the digit example.com

Grandma: It's not working

Tech Support: can you read back to me what you've got?

Grandma (slowly): tee-doubleyou-oh-tee-hach-eee-dee-eye-gee-eye-tee-eee-ex-aye-mmm-pee-ell-eee-dee-oh-tee-see-oh-emm (twothedigitdotcom)

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Of course, avoiding two/too/to/2 in domains is a good idea in general. –  JasonBirch Jul 13 '10 at 5:38
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If gramma can't even get the .com correct.... –  gnarf Jul 17 '10 at 9:39
    
Biz with a z... as opposed to...? :p –  womp Jul 21 '10 at 22:53
    
Bis (hey it was just an example) –  Mark Henderson Jul 22 '10 at 0:25
    
@womp - I heard a much better example on the radio yesterday :) Have updated the question to reflect it. –  Mark Henderson Aug 14 '10 at 5:01

As of this moment, of the top 500 global sites according to Alexa internet, only 11 start with a digit. 2.2% only. So a digit-started domain name can get traffic.

Here's the list (please note: I have not looked at these sites to see if they are safe for work):

  1. http://2ch.net
  2. http://4399.com
  3. http://58.com
  4. http://2345.com
  5. http://360.cn
  6. http://1stcngame.com
  7. http://39.net
  8. http://51job.com
  9. http://1133.cc
  10. http://7k7k.com
  11. http://1stwebgame.com

For some reason this question reminds me of E-Mail Addresses It Would Be Really Annoying to Give out over the Phone, which is very funny.

But seriously, any domain name can be successful. Look at woot.com and ebay.com and craigslist.org: ridiculous names; great, successful sites.

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I don't think "z5x.com" starts with a digit –  Mark Henderson Jul 13 '10 at 22:37
    
Doh! Farseeker, thanks! –  artlung Jul 13 '10 at 23:15

RFC 952 says that hostnames should not have leading digits, but this is a document from 1985 and was superseded by RFC 1123 (section 2.1). The earlier rule against leading digits may be part of the reason some people prefer not to use them.

To address your questions though:

  • I doubt search engines would treat it differently, except as a bug condition
  • Not many people would choose to avoid a site based purely on the initial character
  • Any hesitation I've had has been as a result of the fact that an initial digit could also be starting an IP address (not anything to do with variables)
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37signals works because everyone speaks it as "thirty seven signals" and the natural reaction for most is to write larger numbers as digits.

Single digits may be more problematic - 7monkeys or sevenmonkeys? A friend used the domain 2nlight.net a few years ago. He loved it until he had to announce it on the telephone.

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Nice thread. I run 123bit.com and 123galactic.com

I thought leading digits could lead to a bug, but seems not... Lots of sites seem to have leading digits.
Yes I was reluctant to get them due to leading digits, but its gotten very hard to get cool domains these days. I also used to think it was wrong due to variables not being able to begin with numbers. But then I realized that domain names are more akin to filenames than variables.

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The notion that you can't start a domain name with a number is a holdover from previous internet best practices.

In the early days of the web, it was unacceptable to begin a domain name with a number. In many cases, it would be mistaken for the start of an IP address (e.g., 127.0.0.1).

Now, all hardware and software products worth purchasing are completely capable of handling domain names that begin with a number.

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Yes the 11 web sites with domain names started with digits seems to be successful cases,but if you visit the sites, you will find that they are all non-English web sites. So I think that the domain name started with digits will not cause any problem in non-English country because the domain name system does not have their words or characters so they will not be confused.

In my case, my domain name is also started with digits, which is an eCommerce site (http://www.66express.com) and found no problem with it until now. I don't think that google or other search engine will dislike the domain name started with digits.

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Does it affect site ranks on search engines?

No, unless your target keywords are digits like 2, 8 or 100. But who use that keywords anyway?

Do you think people will be less likely to visit it?

Short answer is no, unless the URL is packed with random digits. That being said, depending on what kind languages your web site is for, some languages have very intriguing properties. In Chinese, 8 is a very good number, equals prosperity, and 51 means I want, that is why in artlung's list there are 58.com, 51job.com. In Chinese, those are very good name. BTW 630 means something even in other langues, does not it?

Is this just a programmer response, since most variable names can't start with a digit?

Negative, as far as I know.

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Domain names containing numbers are cheaper for a reason.Numbers will confuse people with the spelling. Suppose you registered Example3.com visitors might mix it with ExampleThree.com then it will redirect to ExampleThree.com only (if this site is available in internet). For getting a good domain name in terms of accessibility you need to follow some factors given below

1.Domain name must be short.

2.Try to avoid too many '_' symbol in your domain name.

3.Get the domain name that related to your business or product or organization.

4.If you want to get the domain extension .com and that is not available means try to register the new domain with the other extension like .org, .info, .edu, etc.

After a choosing a good domain name check the availability of the name. If available means register it with a good domain registrar.

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