Evaluating your domain name ownership to work smart and save money
We often have people ask us about owning multiple domains. Some have amassed a deep and broad assortment. They want to know if they should keep all the domains they’ve acquired. If you’re not sure why you have domains you’ve registered, it’s probably a good time to stop and assess. An even better time would be before you buy, but sometimes it feels good to hold your options if you’re not sure. It’s just that it can get costly and often for little, if any, benefit.
What’s important to know is that more domain names is not necessarily (or even usually) better. In fact, in many, if not most, cases, one well-chosen domain name that is consistently promoted is all a company needs.
Even if you have several domains, for search engine optimization reasons, you work smartest by choosing one to be your primary domain. If you’ve been online for a while, this will be the one that you’ve used longest and most consistently. Ideally, it will reflect your company name and include keywords like heating, cooling, air conditioning, plumbing, etc. It doesn’t matter if your domain name is long due to such keywords.
Funneling all traffic intended for your site to one well-seasoned, keyword-rich domain will help your website’s search engine visibility. If you own multiple domains, they should all be set to permanently forward, or redirect, website traffic to the one you choose as your primary domain (also known as the ‘resolving’ domain because it is the address at which the site ultimately appears no matter which domain you used to get there). The reason for this is that redirected domains do not, themselves, acquire any seo ranking value – that accrues only on the primary domain. What’s more, if you don’t funnel your website’s traffic into just one domain, it actually hurts your primary domain ranking because Google looks at each domain as a separate and competing website.
A domain’s age and history affect its value in terms of search engine optimization. So, if ever you decide to switch to a different primary domain, you want to keep the one you’ve been using and have your web company make the necessary changes so both the domain and all its accrued value are associated with the new one. Introducing a brand new domain without attending to these details is to lose the value in which you’ve invested and to start all over from square one trying to gain traction in search engines.
While having several domain names is usually not necessary, there may be some circumstances under which you decide you may want to own more than just your primary domain.
To keep a domain from being used by competitors
If your company’s legal name is a combination of geographic and industry terms, for example, ‘Jonesville Heating and Cooling, Inc.’, local competitors would also have a legitimate interest in a domain containing the keywords Jonesville, heating, and cooling. Some contractors see fit to purchase and hold additional versions of domains whether to protect their actual name or simply to keep domains with geographical and industry keyword benefits from being used by competitors, even if all they do is park them. For obvious reasons, the real benefit of registering domains on this basis can be hard to assess.
If shorter domains are wanted for email or marketing purposes
Different domains are sometimes used for targeted marketing campaigns, employing a domain that reflects the campaign that goes to a dedicated promotional page or site. Some companies prefer to use an alternate short, easy-to-remember and easy-to-enter version of their company name as a domain for email or their print and broadcast marketing, feeling it’s more user-friendly for those purposes, while still getting all seo benefits and keyword benefits that their primary domain offers via organic search. If used, a short domain should be set it up so website visitors to the short address are automatically redirected to your website hosted at the longer address.
Be aware that the regular practice of promoting multiple domains (even if they forward to your main domain), can get confusing for customers. Using multiple domains is something that should be done only for carefully calculated reasons.
If changing your primary domain due to a name change, acquisition, or rebranding
If your company name has changed or it has been acquired by a competitor, it makes good business sense to keep your primary domain and use it to transition traffic from your old identity to the new one, so customers stay connected. Whether you inform customers of the change by maintaining the old site for a period of time or you forward the domain and inform them at the new site, is a matter of preference. The important thing is to communicate the transition to customers so, if they enter the former company’s web address, they don’t wonder why they arrive at a different company than expected. A sentence or two on the acquiring company’s homepage that includes the former company name, explains the acquisition and welcomes visitors can also help searchers looking for the former company locate the site.
.com, .net, .biz… and now more… do I need them all?
When it comes to domain names, .com remains the most desirable version of a domain. The reason for this is simple: the overwhelming majority of people will assume that a business is a .com and will search that way. Trying to train people otherwise is an uphill battle and will remain so. If you cannot get the version of the domain you would like as a .com, before resigning to a .net (or other) consider a domain that pairs your name and a benefit of your services or a call to action that you can build a brand around.
Should you buy every version of your domain?
Buying up every version of your domain in .com, .net, .org, .biz or other is not necessary, although years ago, it used to be standard practice. Besides, with new domain options being introduced each year, where would it end?
From a search engine optimization standpoint, a company should only invest their marketing efforts in one domain name and that is their primary domain, the one at which their website appears. Other domains that are not registered for a specific use or reason are the ones you really have to weigh and where you may be wasting your money. There are just too many possible domain names to own them all in an effort to hold options or protect your interests from every possible angle. Hopefully, this information helps you decide where to draw the line.