John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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Kayak.com – let’s talk about bad domain names

I read that Kayak.com just got $196 million in funding, and bought smaller rival SideStep.com. Funders of the travel company now include Sequoia Capital, General Catalyst Partners, Accel Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Trident Capital, Oak Investment Partners, Lehman Brothers Venture Partners, Silicon Valley Bank and Gold Hill Capital. Wow. That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Maybe someone at one of those companies will step up and admit that “kayak” is a terrible name for a discount travel site, and that maybe… just MAYBE someone needs to spend a little of that $196 million on a premium generic domain name?

Seriously. That kayak logo looks like an eye anyway, which has nothing to do with travel, and there is no such thing as discount travel with a kayak (kayaks don’t fit in the overhead bins and are too big to be checked as luggage). And what, maybe 0.01% of the world’s travelers go for kayak tours, right?

Come on domainers, pitch your premium generic idea here. These guys are at a juncture. They need some ideas and they need them now before they make the mistake of investing $196 million into marketing a discount travel site that ranks #1 for “kayak: a small human-powered boat. It typically has a covered deck, and a cockpit covered by a spraydeck.

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9 Responses to “Kayak.com – let’s talk about bad domain names”

  1. jim Says:

    I want to know the marketing methods of Kayak.com. Heck, did they have Jenna Jameson on board a the time?

  2. Dennis Ray Nestor Jr. Says:

    With all of this exposure. They are listed as #1 now.

    New slogan :

    kayak.com – “Solo Discount Travel”

  3. Peter Davis Says:

    Yea, I agree totally. And, Amazon.com is a terrible name for a book store. Someone should let Jeff Bezos know about that.

  4. Dan Perry Says:

    I don’t think it’s a home run, but it’s better than a single. I like that it’s short, memorable, and a palindrome. I think they need to branch out into other forms of advertising. If they can spend that amount of money for an acquisition, I should’ve heard about them via other mediums long ago. Heck, I saw a Zappos.com print ad yesterday. They should follow.

  5. john andrews Says:

    No no no.

    Amazon is a great name for an everything store, or even a book store as books cover the world. EVERYONE in the English speaking world associates “amazon” with big. Amazon.com is a good name for a book store.

    Kayak.com is a great name for a ….. kayak store. Or maybe an outdoor adventure racer destination site (for people who kayak). Or something that plays on the palindromic nature of the word “KayaK”, perhaps. But a travel site? Single travel, maybe. Adventure travel. Kayak travel, for sure. But discount travel? I don’t get it.

  6. Scott Goodyear Says:

    John,

    Trying to read into your last commment…
    It would perhaps make more sense if kayak.com was more well known as a travel broker. Perhaps if they had some type of iconic marketing. For example, I barely watch TV but I know the travelocity gnome and captain kirk’s pitch for priceline.

    When I first heard about Travel O’ City I thought it was an Irish company. Now, I think “travel velocity” minus the “vel”… Still, they should buy up travelgnome.com or something too, lol.

    Names can be argued in both directions, for/against kayak.com as a kayak reseller vs. a travel discounter destination site. Personally, I’d think that they’d be best off keeping the other domains ups or redirecting but…. They should have a few specialty sections that focus on specific areas. With the name they could certainly support a specialty area with specialty trips/connections/whatever for camping and other destinations/trips that other brokers normally wouldn’t touch.

    For example I could sites similar to realtor.com, rent.com, executivesuites.us, etc. joining as one umbrella company and sharing some data but mainly marketing to niches.

  7. Wes Says:

    I’m never sure if I spelled Kayak properly. And looks like I’m not the only one – Kayack.com is getting 2,522 visitors per month according to compete.com

    It’s a terrible name.

  8. Dharmesh Shah Says:

    I don’t think the name Kayak itself is all that bad.

    It is short and memorable. Like many successful brands, the meaning is what they infuse it with. Reminds me a bit of Monster.com.

    Having said that, from an internet marketing perspective, the domain kayak.com is clearly sub-optimal.

    For example, they rank #1 on Google for the term “kayak” — even above Wikipedia and KayakOnline.com, which is a site *about* kayaks. However, ranking #1 for “kayak” probably doesn’t buy them a whole lot. If someone knows the company name, they could easily just type in the domain.

    Further, one of their key phrases is “Cheap Flights” (it’s in their page title). However, they rank #2 on Google for this important term. Who ranks #1? Coincidentally, CheapFlights.com. This is despite the fact that Kayak.com seems to have more SEO authority than CheapFlights.com.

    The net result is that they’re likely going to have higher customer acquisition costs on the web which may or may not be a big deal.

  9. john andrews Says:

    @Dharmesh: CheapFlights is huge for airline tickets, and drives a good bit of traffic to kayak.com via a business arrangement. As for Monster.com, again, like ‘Amazon’, ‘Monster’ has a connotation that does apply to a “big” site. But ‘kayak’ is a boat, and the connotation is that it is a single-person (usually), easily-tipped, boat.