You might be wondering, “How many domain names should i buy?”. Let’s start with a brief story.
Let’s suppose Fred decides to learn more about online marketing and websites. It is easy to install WordPress, and set up a website. He learns everything about keywords. He installs Google Analytics. Fred creates some content, and receives some traffic.
Wow! This deal is easy and fun! It could even make me some money one day! There are a million more website ideas I could use!
Fred then visits his domain registrar and finds that many of his ideas for websites are now available! They cost only $10 per annum! He has many.
What about misspellings? You can also buy a few.
What about the.net or.co versions? You can also buy a few of these.
So on and so forth. Before you know it, Fred has spent $600 to buy domain names…without ever building a single website idea.
It doesn’t. Your domain name is still very important, but it’s important relative to other factors.
These are the 10 lessons I have learned when buying and researching domain names.
1. If the domain is not needed for a unique website, don’t purchase it.
Let’s say you have an existing website. New content or products are you looking to promote, but it doesn’t fit within the existing domain.
Instead of continuing to use your current domain, you might consider purchasing a new domain.
Do not buy a new domain right away.
Why? You will start from zero in terms of audience, search engine indexing and content. You can build on your existing domain if you use it.
However, other companies/bloggers/people obviously do this all the time (including me), so what’s the best practice? Here we go –
- Buy the domain name if the new site targets a completely different audience, voice, brand, or target audience.
- Do not purchase the domain if you are looking for a unique content feature or if your content appeals to the same people who visit your site right now.
- Instead, consider expanding the site’s description to capture that specific topic. You aren’t writing for a particular topic; you are writing for people who are interested in the topic.
- Don’t buy the domain if you don’t have an audience. This is especially true if Rule #2 is associated with it.
2. If you are unable to support the domain, don’t buy it
Imagine you have a dozen domain names. Are you going to be able to keep them all updated? Without a team, even full-time bloggers can’t keep up with more than four sites – and these are usually people who know their stuff.
What budget (time and money) are you aiming for when purchasing domain names?
20 sites that are mediocre and have underinvested will not go anywhere. They will never be as good as one website that is well-designed.
Buy the domain if you are able and plan to support the new site. There will always be another name.
3. Boring is not a brandable trait
Why is there always another domain name? The domain should always be associated with the success of the business. You need to have something to work with, but not everything has to be perfect. It doesn’t have to make sense. Why?
Boring domain names are, first and foremost, just that: boring. You can order books at bookstore.com, search the Internet at searchengine.com, or purchase jackets at w intercoats.com.
This is because domain names are “memory hooks”. Customers who know your business will also know your domain name. Rarely, vice versa.
4. Spend your money on domains that are not premium (without branding reasons).
Spend money just to have a unique domain name. It is not important to have a good domain name. North Face uses NorthFace.com. The domain suferseo.com is used by a very successful SEO company – even though they are Surfer.
37signals was a multimillion-dollar company that developed software. Its premier product was hosted at BasecampHQ.com from a few years back.
Why? A perfect domain name is not necessary for a successful business. It’s great to have a domain name, but not at the cost of purchasing a premium domain for your business or buying up dozens you won’t use.
5. Do not worry about domain match exact
So a lot of people don’t care about building a brand or a business right now – they just want the perceived SEO value for keywordkeywordexample.com. Search engines are the best way to get traffic and build a brand.
The idea behind this idea is that you could buy a domain name with your target keywords in it (such as cookingrecipeblog.com) – and you would rank better in search results for cooking recipes…just because your domain name has “cooking recipes” in it.
It turns out that Google’s search engine engineers know all about the game and are working to level the playing field. In September 2012, even released an update that explicitly devalues domains containing “exact match” domain names.
You shouldn’t just choose a domain name for its SEO value, even if you are building a brand. This is Matt Cutts, Google’s former Head of Web Spam & Search Engine Optimization Liaison on the subject.
6. Don’t buy misspellings (until you know)
It’s all good and well to buy 1 domain name and build a great, informative, lucrative website. But what if someone misspells your domain name? You can buy the misspellings to protect yourself from cybersquatting.
Although misspellings are an issue, I don’t believe they should be a major issue that you have to pay recurring fees for. You can find out if misspellings have a significant impact on your Google Analytics.
Here’s how. You can go to Google Search console -> Performance Search analytics and keep an eye out for misspelled words in search results. You can buy a misspelling that keeps popping up, and then 301 redirect it back to your site.
7. Take a look at actual examples
Although I have already mentioned North Face and Google as well as Amazon and 37signals for brand names, be sure to check out other companies in your area.
How does this happen? Is it something you love or loathe about the way your favorite blogger or company puts everything under one domain, or spreads it across several?
8. Consider brand memorability SEO
Six letter domain names are preferred by some marketers. Some marketers prefer to make the domain name a term, such as Instagram and del.icio.us.
People will visit your site if it is well-promoted and good looking.
9. Use it wisely
If you’re trying to decide how many domains you should buy, the only rule is to ask if it will be used well . Do you think the domain will provide real value in the coming months?
Do you plan to at most put up a landing page to begin aging the domain? Is it possible to redirect the domain to your actual site? Is it possible to create an amazing website from that domain?
If it isn’t, and it just sits on your domain dashboard then you should wait. Only the ones that you will actually use are needed.
10. Take a look at.com domains first
Here’s an easy tip to help you get to #10. If your domain is available, get a.com. Even though many of the most popular blogs and websites aren’t.com, it’s what people know.
A country-specific TLD is best if you are focusing on a specific country (e.g., UK).
Although vanity TLDs are intriguing, I have yet to see them fully understood by the general population.
All that said, you should only buy domains that are going to be used. They should not be used as placeholders for your ideas.
11. You might consider buying all domain extensions
Since ICANN opened the world of gTLDs there has been a lot of confusion over whether to purchase all domain extensions in order to protect your trademark from Cybersquatting.
Also, you will need to purchase trademark.us or trademark.blog or trademark.org etc.
The short answer to this question is that gTLDs can be a real mess for everyone. All forms of cybersquatting are generally protected by US law. You can also pay to be included in the trademark clearinghouse of ICANN.
The best solution is to purchase what you believe might be the most vulnerable and set a Google Alert. For your brand name, create a customized Google search.
If something happens, you can set aside money for a business attorney.
Oh, and for domain buyers: my review of Namecheap vs. GoDaddy. Check out my domain registrars.
I found Namecheap’s Beast Mode search super-useful for ideas.
Domain.com allows you to add TLDs or premium domains.
Once you have purchased, this guide will help you set up your website.