Strategic domain registration is something every business needs to understand.
Approaching domain registrations from a strategic perspective can open up opportunities for success in earnings and search traffic.
This is a reasonable approach that does far more merely protecting a brand.
Defensive Versus Strategic Domain Registrations
Defensive domain registration is the act of buying different versions of a website’s domain name in order to block competitors from obtaining them.
The goals for defensive domain registrations are limited.
By contrast, strategic domain name registrations have goals that are aligned to earnings and traffic.
In my opinion, defensive domain registrations are of limited use.
By contrast, a strategic approach will yield more benefits.
Copyrights & Registered Trademarks
There are some who say that buying your brand name domains is a good way to keep from having to defend your copyrights and trademarks from domain name squatters and those who would trade on a business’s goodwill.
There’s some truth in that but I think that’s a limited view of the process of buying domain name variants.
Strategic domain name registrations is more than just protecting a brand.
Strategic Domain Name Registrations
Strategic domain name registrations is the practice of registering domain names for sound business reasons that go beyond keeping the domains out of the hands of domain name squatters and competitors.
Strategically buying domain names that are similar to a businesses existing domain may be useful in building sales and online traffic.
Why Buying Domains Can Be Strategic
There are several kinds of domain variants that I tend to purchase in order to protect my businesses. I’m not buying them to defend my brand or trademark (though that often happens by default).
I am buying variations of my domain to protect my rankings and traffic. That’s a strategic reason for buying a domain name.
Strategic domain name registration is, in my opinion, better than a simple defensive domain name registration.
That is because in strategic domain name registrations there is an underlying goal of protecting traffic, rankings, and sales.
Plural Domain Name Variants
One of the first domains I ever registered was singular.
Ten days later a city hall clerk accidentally referred to my business in the plural. I realized this was going to be a problem in the future.
So I went to register the plural domain name variant and turns out someone else had registered it just days earlier.
I emailed the person who had registered the plural domain name version. We subsequently discussed by phone and he agreed that it was problematic for him and we agreed that I would take it off his hands.
Then literally the next day someone else contacted him about it.
At this point, the guy who owned the plural domain name declared that whoever offered the highest bid would win.
I went around his back and telephoned the other person and convinced him that I already owned the singular and it would not be good for him to follow through on the plural.
He agreed to not compete for the domain and I acquired the plural version.
That day 20 years ago served as a lesson that whenever there is a chance of confusion it’s a good idea to buy the singular or plural variant of a domain name.
Moving forward I applied what I learned from that experience to be strategic about domain name purchases.
The following advice may help your potential customers and site visitors avoid confusion and having traffic and earnings siphoned away from your business to someone else.
The main top-level domains (TLD) of dot com, net, and org are useful to acquire.
The dot info domain can be useful as well. They are the main domains used worldwide and are particularly popular with users in the United States of America.
The dot net and dot org variants are easier to rank in the USA and worldwide than irrelevant country code domains and that makes them especially valuable to a business.
The dot info domain can be useful if you want to present information that you don’t want on the main domain.
Why You May Need TLD Variants
Most business names are not very original. Many business names are similar to dozens or even hundreds of others.
At the time a business buys its first domain they may be the only the business with that business name. But that won’t always be the case.
It’s almost a matter of time until someone in another state or country gets a bright idea for a business name that is exactly like yours.
It can almost be guaranteed that at some point in the future the dot net is going to be purchased by a business with a similar name and the dot org will not be far behind.
Can you imagine the customer confusion that can happen when three different domains rank for the same business name?
Buying those domains to keep them out of another businesses name is more than just defensive. It’s strategic because acquiring those domains helps avoid customer or visitor confusion.
There’s another reason: Alternative domain names become useful in the event that you need to create a different web presence with the same business name.
For example, Google.org is the philanthropic web presence for Google.
In my opinion, it’s good to have the option to roll out a dot org or dot net version of a site when it’s needed.
It’s also good business to register and hold on to those variants to avoid site visitor confusion and protect traffic, rankings, and earnings.
Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD)
These are the domains ending in .CA (Canada) or .UK (United Kingdom) and so on.
These aren’t particularly necessary to acquire. ccTLDs become increasingly important if your business sells to multiple countries.
If traffic from countries that share a language is important then it may be considered useful to acquire those domains in order to prevent someone else from buying it and causing confusion between your business and their business in the minds of consumers and site visitors.
This about more than just keeping the domains out of the hands of someone else. Purchasing those ccTLDs is more importantly about protecting your traffic, rankings, and earnings.
Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)
This is where it becomes less justifiable to purchase domains for strategic reasons.
Certain domains like .io and .pro can be useful to another business so you have to judge whether someone purchasing the .io or .pro version of your domain name will cause confusion.
The .io domain can cost over $60/year to register, which makes it less likely for a random domain name squatter to grab it, especially if it’s the name of a small or medium-sized business.
So for a small or medium-sized business, it may not make sense to buy such a domain.
But the .io domain can make sense for a technology company because IO is popular with coding related businesses.
The dot pro gTLD is popular with service-related businesses and it might be something a local based SMB may consider buying since the .pro domain makes sense for certain kinds of businesses where expertise is an important quality that consumers look for in certain industries.
But the vast majority of vanity type domains can safely be ignored.
Strategic Domain Name Registrations
Strategically buying domain names to prevent customer confusion and to protect earnings and site traffic is a sound approach to purchasing domains.
The criticism of defensive domain registration that it’s a waste of money holds some truth because some people may spend loads of money registering domains that no squatter or competing business would ever register.
What’s important when deciding to purchase a domain name variant is to consider whether a business with a similar name might buy a variant and also if it would be possible that having more than one business with similar domains may cause confusion in consumers.
If so then registering those domains makes sound strategic sense.
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita