In the early days of the Internet, a business that wanted an online presence had the relative luxury of simply adding “.com” after their name and registering the domain. Those were indeed the good old days, but alas, things aren’t quite as easy now.
MyBusiness.com Just Won’t Cut It
Today, there’s so much more competition for top level domains (TLDs) that just getting one .com often isn’t enough. You’ve got other similar brands out there competing for attention and muddying the search engine waters with different extensions, more keywords, and bigger market shares. Therefore, if you want to stand out and protect your brand, you need to think about occupying multiple domains, and in some cases, broadening your search beyond just the .com, especially if your business name isn’t unique.
So how do you protect your brand and reduce confusion about your online identity? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about here.
Own the Field
Literature is filled with characters who avoid losing by preventing their opponents from winning. The ancient Greeks, for example, gave us the story of Medea, who infamously visited her “scorched earth” wrath upon her husband, Jason (aka Chief Executive Argonaut). Now, that’s pretty extreme when it comes to domain name registration, but the underlying concept isn’t far off. Make all possible alternatives either unavailable or useless.
Perhaps a less dramatic example is this: In the early days of the American railroad, rich tycoons would buy up as much track-ready property as possible. That way, whatever land they didn’t own was so far removed from their booming business that it was no longer a threat to their brand
These stories illustrate the idea that, by registering as many sites as you can that are similar to yours and redirecting them to your own, you bring more resources under your control. In turn, this leaves fewer vulnerabilities for your competitors and traffic stealers to exploit. Many wise companies, therefore, protect their brand “property” by buying up multiple extensions of their domain name, such as .biz, .org, .net, or .us, and redirect these versions to their site.
Likewise, If you’ve got a domain name that might be easily misspelled, or if it contains words with alternate spellings, you can reduce the potential loss of site traffic by registering URLs that contain those alternate spellings and typos.
Keep an Eye on the “™”
If you’re in an industry with many similar competing businesses (tech, media, etc.), trademark infringement and intellectual property violations are common hazards against which you need to protect your business and avoid creating yourself. A quick search of registered trademarks on a site such as Trademark247.com will answer your immediate questions about any existing trademarks your domain name may threaten or violate. It may also give you a heads-up as to which brands might become a threat to your trademark.
The “buyout” strategy described above is an essential step in this regard, and well worth the cost to protect your brand and reputation. It will also keep visitors from getting confused as to whether you can be found at mysite.com or mysite.net. Either way, they’ll end up on your site and not somewhere else.
If you find yourself with more complex questions around legal use and trademarks (for your site as well as your branded business name), talk it over with your lawyer or legal team, just to be safe.
It seems like .com is the domain by default, we get it. Nearly everyone takes this extension for granted when talking about web addresses. However, the release of many new TLDs has opened up a wide range of naming options all over the web. Being able to brand your site with a unique and unexpected domain extension can change the conversation and help you stand out.
Who’s to say you can’t show a little local pride with a country code TLD? In fact, you can use our handy ccTLD guide to find the official domain for the country in which you live or do business. This can attract clients and customers who live close by or give a boost to a business that trades in any kind of national identity, such as sports teams or tourism. It’s also an effective way for large companies to better serve their global market (e.g., amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk, etc).
And (with some exceptions) many ccTLDs are not restricted to their registry country and can be used in creative ways. For example, the .gg and .fm domains are both ccTLDs that can easily be registered for sites in the gaming and radio industries, respectively.
You can even get domains for many cities. Fancy a .london or .paris address? Those and many others are now available as well.
Or why not use your imagination with a general-use TLD? The company Peak Style, for example, makes clothing and prints using topographical maps of famous mountains. They’ve wisely grabbed a domain using the extension .style, giving them the address peak.style.
It’s a brilliant move as it matches their brand exactly and creates a unique and memorable namespace. It also passes the radio test as an easily spoken and repeatable domain name (“peak dot style”). Although one might kindly advise them to purchase peakstyle.com, just to cover their bases.
Match Your Email with your Domain
Imagine visiting a really impressive website. You are so impressed with the information you’ve found there, in fact, that you’re compelled to contact them. So you click on the “email us” link in their About section and… it resolves to an AOL address.
Disappointing, right? That’s because an email account that relies on a free service (Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, etc.) says to visitors “I’m not serious enough about my business to pay for a branded email address.” An email address that’s linked to your domain looks much more professional on business cards and other collateral. It also makes the impression you want when you’re reaching out to colleagues, the media, or other businesses.
It’s very simple, really. You’ve committed to a professional domain name, so the obvious next step is to attach a professional email. There are plenty of other reasons why this is a good idea if you’re not already convinced.
Go Full Social
Finally, make sure your social media channels line up with your site name.
When used in concert with a strong domain name and contingency plan as outlined above, your social media can fully round out your web presence. Your site visitors will not only know how to find the correct URL for your site, they’ll also be able to easily associate your domain name with your social handles, and vice versa.
Again, don’t confuse things by using a personal social media account for your business. As with email, a branded social media handle gives a cleaner, more professional, more intentional look to your online dealings. Facebook and Twitter, for example, automatically assign all their pages with a default URL that looks like www.facebook.com/16548674994/ or something similar. But a social media site such as twitter.com/yourblog or facebook.com/mybusiness links your social sites with your brand smoothly and effortlessly.
It takes a little extra effort, but making sure your name is the same across all platforms will benefit your brand in the long run. Branded social shows you really mean business.
Ready to register the perfect domain for your site now? Namecheap is here to help with everything.