- Businesses often buy more than one domain to defend against user error and protect their trademarks.
- Consider buying common alternative spellings of your business name.
- Owning multiple domains allows you to track the success of your marketing and advertising campaigns.
When it comes to purchasing a domain, there are a lot of common questions — including whether your business needs more than one.
In most cases, purchasing additional domains is a smart business decision for branding, marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and legal reasons. However, before shopping for domains, several factors should be considered.
You’ll want to think about how your business could benefit from having more than one domain, the types to consider purchasing, strategic ways to leverage multiple domains and the potential pitfalls you might face from owning them.
Why Businesses Buy More Than One Domain
If you think having one domain name is sufficient, think again. By not owning multiple domains, you could be costing your business traffic and customers and leaving your brand vulnerable to the competition.
One of the most important reasons to purchase more than one domain is to protect against user error. Because there is the potential for people to misunderstand what your domain name is when they hear it or make a mistake when typing it, you’ll want to make it a priority to own all common misspellings of your company’s name.
As Web.com’s Director, Product Anna Piatyszek explains, “Whether your company name includes words that are commonly misspelled or your branding uses trendy and creative spellings that might be hard to remember, you should seek to purchase misspellings that’ll capture most errors.”
Another reason to buy more than one domain is to keep the competition from poaching your business. Brand poaching is a serious problem for even major brands. A competitor with a similar name may inadvertently create confusion, so having related or similar domain names helps to protect your brand.
Simply holding a trademark doesn’t automatically give you the domain name, and it doesn’t prevent others from buying domain names that include your trademark. As such, buying more than one domain name can help protect any trademarks you own.
There are a range of legal options available to protect your business domain, including arbitration through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and filing civil proceedings. Consult a legal professional to discuss your options before taking any action.
Types of Additional Domains to Purchase
If you’ve only owned one domain name up to this point, you might wonder exactly what types of additional domains you should consider purchasing.
As mentioned, it’s important to purchase alternative spellings to protect against user error and brand confusion. Anna recommends, “If you have more budget or you’re a larger company, plan to capture a lot more alternate spellings.”
For example, if the name of your business is Shawn’s Barbecue Restaurant and your primary domain is shawnsbarbecue.com, you should also consider purchasing seansbarbecue.com, seansbbq.com, shawnsbarbque.com and other common variations.
Multiple Top-Level Domains (TLDs)
When possible, you should also own other common domain extensions besides your core domain. There are over 1,000 extensions to choose from, and while you don’t need to own all of them, we recommend securing at least the most common ones. If your main website is a .com, think about buying .co, .net, .org and even .guru.
But the possibilities don’t stop there. For many businesses, the newer alternative TLDs serve as an effective way to own a memorable domain that closely fits your company name.
For example, instead of XYZlawncareservicescompany.com, you could purchase XYZlawn.care. And if you have offices in different parts of the world, you might want to purchase multiple geographic extensions, from over 100 options, such as us, .uk or .au.
Strategic Reasons to Own Multiple Domains
Owning multiple domains isn’t just about catching traffic or protecting your brand. You can use additional domains to serve a specific purpose.
Marketing and Advertising Campaigns
If you already have a core domain name for your business, and you want to run a marketing or ad campaign, you’ll need to track customer behavior to measure success.
Using domains specifically for your promotional campaigns, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, is a smart way to know exactly where the traffic originated and how you acquired a customer. It’s particularly useful when advertising a domain name via a non-online channel where a customer cannot click on a URL, such as a magazine or radio ad.
As Anna shares, “having different domains for your landing pages or your marketing lets you track your performance while keeping your content separate.”
Sales and Landing Pages
If you want to send traffic to a specific section of your website, an effective tactic is to use a descriptive domain with an easy-to-remember URL to point to a particular page on your site.
For example, instead of saying, ‘go to XYZproducts.com/shop/sale/clearance,’ why not use the domain XYZproducts.sale to drive customers to your hot promotions?
Search Engine Optimization
For SEO purposes, companies with various brands that cater to different audiences often take advantage of owning specific domains for each. If you have a keyword strategy in mind for your individual brands, having an individual domain for each one will help you take up more “real estate” in search results.
A popular way to implement this strategy is to create microsites with unique content that fills a need for your audience. For example, Harry’s, a store that offers shaving and grooming products, has a microsite called Five O’Clock, which is a lifestyle blog featuring content relevant to their customers.
An additional way to implement this strategy is to use 301 redirects. By doing this, you’ll be able to permanently redirect your secondary domains to your primary domain. With redirects, all of the rankings from the secondary domains to your primary one will boost overall rankings in search.
But along with the strategic benefits of owning multiple domains, you may face some challenges.
Common Pitfalls of Owning More Than One Domain
Buying, maintaining and managing domains can add costs and responsibilities over time. Before you go on a domain shopping spree, you may want to consider your budget versus the potential cost savings and your capacity to manage them.
Keeping multiple domains organized becomes an administrative headache for some companies. Remember that it’s critical to ensure you buy the domains under your company’s name and not that of an employee. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing ownership and access if that employee leaves the company.
At a minimum, you’ll want to take steps to centralize the management of all domain names, so there’s a running list of what domains you own, renewal dates, logins and other important information.
Pro Tip: Buying all your domains from one registrar and on the same purchase date makes renewal easier. Keeping your invoices in one place makes it simpler to keep track of costs and taxes.
When you have multiple domains with associated websites, you need to avoid having duplicate content on these sites as this could hurt your SEO.
Duplicate content often leads to a loss in rankings and traffic because search engines don’t know what content to index or exclude, how to direct the link “juice” or what version to show in search results. Make sure content is unique on each of your sites to avoid this issue.
If you’re using multiple domains, you might confuse your customers. They may not be sure which of your domain names they should go to. If you use multiple domains, think carefully about how they’re being used, so you’re not making things more complicated than they need to be for your customers.
Pro Tip: Consider setting up website forwarding on some of your key domains in order to address potential confusion or SEO concerns. Website forwarding is a good idea if you buy multiple variations of your name to protect your brand and you want a customer or prospect to find their way to your main site when they go to the domain.
Before You Purchase Multiple Domains
Before buying multiple domains, consider what purpose they will serve for your business. From marketing to SEO to legal considerations, there are many reasons to own several domains. The key is having a clear game plan for each one. With a good strategy in place, you’ll be well-positioned to make multiple domains work for you.
Feature Image Shutterstock
Image 1 via Five O’Clock
Image 2 Unsplash/Tianyi Ma
All screenshots taken by the author December 2019.