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Getting Great Domain Names

A friend of mine who I have occasionally worked with in the past started his own business last year. It was an online store, but one that he ran through an already active community/platform, and not as an independent shop. At the time, I warned him that he should prepare to go out on his own early, and secure things like business and domain names right away. After all, a lot could happen in a very short amount of time.

He put it off, mainly because he didn’t want to spend the money if he didn’t know whether or not his business would take off. Well, it did, and six months later he decided he wanted to avoid the fees of the platform he was using and create his own website.

Only problem? The domain name, and several of the related ones, had been taken.

I didn’t do the “told you so” thing to his face, seeing as he was feeling down enough about it without my help. But his loss could be your gain; you can learn from the mistake. If you are starting a business or website, it is crucial that you protect it right from the beginning. It could make a huge difference with your branding.

How To Keep Your Domain From Becoming Someone Else’s

The first thing you need to do is sit down and think of every possible variation of your domain. That includes .com, .net. .io, whatever. You don’t need all of them, just the most common or relevant. You want to secure them so that others can’t sweep in and take the most common domain variations and be mistaken for (or overtake) your brand.

You can find a full list of popular TLD’s here. Sometimes you may find that a lesser known TLD is better suited for your domain than the typical .com, or .net. When launching Jobscri.be, for example, the TLD was chosen because of the way it fit with the name of the service, not the location (the site is run from the US, the .be TLD is for Belgium). However, you still need to make sure you secure other TLDs, even if you choose not to use them.

Next, think of some mistypes versions of the name. For example, if your domain was BrandsRUs,com, you could make a list of misspellings:

  • Brandzrus
  • Brndsrus
  • Randsrus
  • Vrandsrus
  • ect

You don’t have to try and make an extensive list, but having a couple that are more likely to be typed in by accident can help. The good news is that this isn’t quite as necessary anymore, not if you have decent SEO. People often just put in the name, and not the full URL. Which sends them to Google – or their other search engine of choice – with the correct link. But having a couple covered never hurt anyone.

Finally, it is time to set up a redirect. You have your different variations and misspelled domains, and you want them all linked to the original website. That way if people type in the wrong address, they will get sent to the right link.

Most hosts will allow you to create custom redirects from your user panel quickly and effectively, especially if all domains have been bought from the same place. But otherwise, you can manually enter in a redirect to the Index.html file of any website.

Opening up the Index.html file, find the HEAD tag, then copy/paste:

<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=YOUR NEW URL HERE”>

Add in the new URL where indicated to send them to the right website. Change the ‘0’ to any number indicating the seconds between them landing on the page, and being redirected. Some people will choose to add a redirect or landing message before they send the user off. Others just redirect immediately.

You can also use a redirect service like Redirect100. However, as a warning, I have never personally tried this service, and have only seen it recommended a couple of times on webmaster forums. It may not be the best option, so use if at your own risk.

How Many TLD’s Do I Have To Secure?

Above you were shown just how many TLD’s there are out there, and you may be wondering just how many you should be registering. Again, this depends on what you are using as your initial domain. You should at least register the three top TLD’s, if you can, even if you are using a fourth as your chosen URL. Those would be .com, .org, and .net.

When someone is doing a blind search for your site, they are most likely to try one of those three variations first. Competitors or others who want the domain will also register those first. So hurry and snatch them up, before it is too late.

Don’t Be Like My Friend

My buddy has a thriving business, but he had to change his domain from a much more effective straight brand name, to a less impressive one that had added words which reduce his brand power. He admits it was a mistake, and one he won’t make a second time.

Don’t let yourself fall into the same trap. Yes, securing a domain requires an initial investment. But that is just a part of running any business, and the overhead on an ecommerce store is low enough that you should be willing to put whatever cash it takes into the task.

Make sure you get your ducks in a row before launch, or pay for it later.

By Jessy Troy

Jessy Troy is a self-employed writer and technology geek. You can see her tweet at @JessyTroy

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