How many and which domains should I buy now?

30 April 2018

Should I buy .com, or get all the extensions?

These are questions I receive often from my clients. If you're asking, you're not alone.

Here are some thoughts to help you decide.

My general working principle is this: your best investment for a domain is one domain that is easy to spell, easy to say, and is a .com domain (no .net, .us, .org or other extension).

That said, there are instances in which you might be better off investing in some of the other TLD’s for your site. (TLD = top level domains. These domains sit at the root of a website, and are identified by extension: .com, .net, .us, .org and so on.)

Multiple domains, one website

Buying multiple domain names and pointing them all to your website is a common practice.

Yes, you can point multiple domains to your website main domain. The best way to do this is to use a URL Forward or Forwarding or Redirection order or whatever your registrar calls it.

The procedure is relatively simple to implement (depending on which method you use), but it's important to take precautions so that you do not lose search engine ranking unnecessarily.

If you're uncertain

Get your main domain handled first.

You’ll get the best registrar pricing if you purchase your best domain for 5 or 10 years. Most registrars offer 1 year, then multiple year increments for a better price.After your main domain is registered, buy the other contenders for a year or so while you experiment and monitor results. Point these domains to your main website domain.

A good webhosting service will provide you with extensive analytics or you can find a 3rd party service like Google Analytics for reports to tell you how much traffic is coming to which URL (domain). This can inform your decision to renew a secondary domain or not.

Buy as many as you can easily afford, and that you can afford to maintain and market to. There’s no return on investment for a URL that sits quietly parked, unless you’re in the business of buying and selling domains. (Domain investing is a robust and thriving industry, we’re just not discussing it in this post.)

Ask yourself why you're budgeting for more domains, what is your goal and your net gain?

Do you simply want to tie up the domain so no one else can buy it? Perhaps so, if you think your visibility will be high enough to warrant the purchase and protection. While I don’t encourage anyone to make an investment based on fear, there are domain squatters who scout for isolated .com registrations and buy the .net or .org or other TLD that is an exact match. The ROI for these investors depends on traffic, and other considerations, including their perception of the popularity and attractiveness of your domain. Your website may not be heavily trafficked at first, and the risk may not be that high. Evaluate that cost against your budget.

Do you want to expand the possibilities that someone might type .org, .net or .info to search specifically for you, if they don't find you at a .com? (Hint: this is probably not a compelling reason to invest. I mean, really, do you often duplicate searches using other extensions when you're looking for someone or for a service or product? For me, that answer is no. Sometimes, but not often.) Weigh your costs against the possible return. If you can easily afford the expense, it may be worth a trial year to observe the analytics, and see if anyone is searching for you or your services, products or type of business at those TLD's.

More on how to pick a great domain name later. For now, thanks for stopping in.

Julia O'Reilly

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