Internet domain names with their dot-this and dot-that are unwieldy and not exactly human-friendly. But they’re here to stay, and anyone who’s serious about their online presence should be sitting on a load of them. Every time somebody contacts me to say they’re changing their email address from firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com (or whatever), I just groan. Why didn’t they set up a personal domain name years ago, so they could change their email provider behind the scenes whenever they wished, and keep their email address? This isn’t some sort of vanity plate, it’s a genuinely useful thing to have, and it’s something which future generations will expect to own …if it’s not too late. I registered my 11-year-old’s personal domain name the day he was born (yeah yeah, the wife and child were still in hospital, I was bored at home, what more can I say?) and it’s already proved worthwhile for him, as well as being perceived as “cool”. Had I not done so, it would have been taken by one of his many namesakes worldwide years ago. I can cite many occasions where being found easily on Google has been of professional and personal benefit.
For your company to own many domain names is even more important. They’re cheap to buy, and it’s never too late to start doing so. Don’t forget, you don’t have to actually do anything with the domain names for now, although you should at least point them towards your main website if nothing else. Just make sure you’ve got them. There are three areas I’d investigate. The first is overseas versions of your company name. If you have an office or a distributor in, say, Australia, and promote your company there, you should be quoting a .com.au to reinforce your presence. You may not be able to justify hundreds of country-specific domain names, but you should at least cover your main markets, for the future if not the present.
The second area to look at is variations or misspellings of the company name. It seemed only natural to me to register www.businessmarketingonline.co.uk at the same time as our preferred domain name, www.bmon.co.uk, but it doesn’t appear to be as obvious to many much larger organisations. I’ve already had the disconcerting experience of somebody trying to pass my articles off as their own, and it’s no leap from there to using a misleading domain name.
Finally, there are the domain names for generic product types. It’s becoming increasingly less likely that www.bluewidgetcompany.co.uk will score well in Google for searches on “blue widget” just because the words appear in the domain name. However, these types of domain name will be useful if you do ever want to set up “authority sites” as a soft way of introducing your company, and they’re also useful if you want to quote specific domain names in print adverts, so you can measure response, something which to me is essential.