Last month I wrote a post about How Poor Product Categorization Creates Duplicate Content and Frustrates Your Shoppers. Strictly from a user standpoint, improperly thinking out how each product should be categorized can cause many products from being found by your shoppers. When determining the category or categories of any product, you have to put yourself in the mind of the searcher. How would they look for it?

Return to SenderIn much the same way, the domain name(s) you select can also be a preventative measure against someone not finding you. Let me rephrase that a bit more clearly. Buying up alternative domains can help people find you when they inadvertently type in the wrong domain, or when they are just randomly typing in keywords in the address bar.

Let's use The Home Depot as an example once again. My first attempt to get to their site I typed in That goes nowhere. The URL to reach them is This is a clear case of "what are they thinking?" The last time I checked they bill themselves as THE Home Depot, not just Home Depot. It's right there in their logo!

Note, when I first wrote this article and published it on my blog in April, a Home Depot rep found it and has since fixed the issue. I received a nice note from Home Depot thanking me for point out the issue. You can read the comments from Nick at the original post.

The Home Depot LogoWould you believe that, according to WordTracker, approximately 63 people per day search for That's a reflection only of those typing that into a search box. Who knows how many are typing it into the address bar.

Just for fun, let's assume that twice as many people mistype The Home Depot's URL into the address bar as do those who attempt to search for it. If we then assume that only 10% of those searchers give up after the first try, The Home Depot is losing almost 5,000 potential shoppers each year, and that, I think, is a pretty conservative figure. That may not be a lot for a company like them, but no one ever makes money by being hard to find!

URL Alternatives

While the majority of people may naturally type your URL in properly, there will always be a handful that won't. You have to consider carefully any variations that someone else might use, including:

  • Alternate spellings
  • Misspellings
  • Abbreviated / Long-form versions
  • phonetically similar versions
  • Plural / singular versions
  • .net, .org, etc.
  •,, etc.

Home Depot got the misspelling correct. If you type in you're redirected to their site. But again, not if you type in Another missed opportunity which still hasn't been fixed.

A couple of years back I did an interview for an online radio station. At the end of the interview they asked me for my domain name, which I pronounced but didn't spell. As soon as the interview was done I realized my error. How many different ways are there to spell "pole"? "Pull" and "Poll" both come to mind! I immediately registered those domain names and redirected them to the main site.

Minimizing the competition

By purchasing these extra domain names, you're not only securing alternate, yet mistaken paths to your website, you are also preventing your competition from siphoning off traffic meant for you. If you don't buy these alternates, chances are someone else will. At best, the URL will have nothing on it and just show an "unavailable" error. At worst, they'll redirect your visitors to their own website!

How strong your branding is will be a pretty significant factor in what domain people type in when looking for you. But no matter how good it is, there are always those that will get it wrong. Are you OK losing them to a competitor? If not, then consider carefully what domain names you might want to own and redirect to your primary URL. In The Home Depot's case, I'm sure an additional 5,000 visitors each year is worth the purchase price of any alternative URLs.

June 2, 2008

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


And a good example of common misspellings in the title of the article. :-)

Many good points made, Stoney, maybe THD will read this one, too.

ARG! I hate when I do that. Thanks for pointing it out... everybody else just read it and snickered! :)

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Securing your Brand and Minimizing the Competition Through Alternative Domain Names