I've written quite extensively before about how to select the best domain name for your business. It is also a good idea to secure alternate versions of your primary domain name as a means to prevent competitors from trying to squeeze in on your name and branding efforts. Buying multiple domain names is a great strategy that can be used to capture additional type-in traffic, secure other branding avenues you may wish to pursue, or simply to prevent your competitors from securing them.
There are many different reasons for purchasing multiple domain names, and each reason has its own set of benefits and uses.
Many URLs are purchased simply to capture type in traffic. Type-in traffic is when someone goes to the address bar of their web browser and types in keywords.com instead of performing a keyword search on a search engine. Securing domain names with a fair amount of type-in traffic can be a great boost to sales. If you sell bean bags, your main URL might be BarrysBeanBags.com. To capture potential type-in traffic you might also secure and redirect the following:
It is always a good idea to secure potential misspellings of your domain name. I recently did a radio interview and at the end of the interview I provided my domain name. Unfortunately I did not take the time to actually spell it out. Upon realizing my error, I immediately went out and purchased multiple spellings of my URL to redirect to my main site.
This allowed me to capture all traffic from any listeners that may have had a different spelling of my site in mind, which increased my visitor rate from those who listened to the broadcast substantially.
Along with misspellings you should also consider purchasing plural and/or singular versions of your domain.
If you are in a highly visible industry you might want to consider getting yourdomainsucks.com. Several years ago someone put up an anti AOL website at aolsucks.com (You can see a version of this at http://web.archive.org/web/19980111060209/http://www.aolsucks.com/).
Who might do such a thing? A disgruntled x-employee, a customer who had a bad experience or even a former spouse or partner. Setting up and hosting a website is relatively easy, and often bad press travels a lot further with a little effort than good press with a lot of effort.
There are some significant drawbacks from trying to capture all negative versions of your domain name. You'll have to grab all hyphenated, non-hyphenated, plural, and misspelled variations. That can be quite a bit. Take that even a step further, you'll want to buy the .net, .org, .info, .biz and .us (or your country code) variations. Don't forget YourDomainSux.com or YourDomainReallySucks either.
Is it worth trying to get all those variations? You'll have to decide. For some "any press is good press." For others, not so much. In any case, someone registering a "sucks" version of your domain name is likely to create a legal battle that perhaps neither side wants to engage in.
I mentioned above that you should not purchase a hyphenated URL for your main site. For marketing purposes, however, there are sometimes legitimate reasons to do so. My business owns PolePositionMarketing.com and Pole-Position-Marketing.com. I purchased the hyphenated version simply to prevent a competitor from securing it and stealing my branding. I also have the option of using the hyphenated versions for other marketing efforts, but I don't recommend doing so unless you are fully aware of the potential ramifications.
Use Proper Redirects
When setting up multiple domains such as those mentioned above, it's important that you set up each one properly. Setting up domains improperly can lead to duplicate site/content penalties on the search engines which will ultimately be bad for business.
The best method of setting up multiple URLs is to set up a 301 permanent redirect. The 301 redirect tells the search engine that the URL it is trying to access has been permanently moved to a new location, presumably your main URL. The cool thing is that when a visitor types in the redirecting URL they are automatically flipped to your main site.
To set-up a 301 redirect you'll want to talk with your web host, as different servers require different methods if implementation. When redirecting multiple URLs there is a neat little trick that saves hosting fees that you'll want to use.
With this method, you pay for only one additional hosting account ($5 at the most) and all your URLs will automatically flip the visitor and the search engines to your main URL.
In marketing, every little bit can help. Even if a redirected domain name only results in one additional sale every few months, it may not be long until that one sale is a significant one. Whenever you think of a possible domain name that might be used to drive traffic away from your site, go grab it right away. If the domain is already purchased I recommend keeping an eye on it in case the owner forgets to renew it, in which case you can buy and hold on to it for your own benefit.
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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.
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