Online, your brand identity is intrinsically linked to your domain name. Registering a domain makes it yours: you can use it to host your website, promote your business and sell your products and services. It also means no-one else can use it. However, there is a multitude of almost identical domains available. You may have secured the rights to mybusiness.com, but what of mybusiness.net or .co.uk or .biz or the hundreds of other top-level domain (TLDs) now available? While the sheer number of TLDs makes it impractical to register them all, there are very valid reasons for registering multiple domain extensions and in this post, we’ll explain why.
Stopping the fraudsters
Let’s suppose you have registered the domain mybusiness.co.uk. If you are a UK business, the extension is perfect for you as it will rank well in UK searches and anyone seeing it in search results will know the country where you’re based. Beyond your brand reputation, the .co.uk extension, in itself, can increase the trust of users. Businesses in the UK are well regulated and, generally, can be trusted and this can inspire visitors from the UK and beyond to click through to your site.
Let’s then suppose that a gang of cyber criminals plan to take advantage of your brand. They register the domain mybusiness.uk an address that differs to yours by only two letters, a difference which, at a glance, most people might not notice. Once the domain is registered, they clone your website and then send out millions of fake emails that look just like yours.
Out of those millions of emails, some people will visit mybusiness.uk, a site that looks identical to yours. They then make a purchase and provide their name, address, email and perhaps even their phone number. They also hand over their credit card details and even pay for the goods and shipping. When they do this, they believe they are buying from your company.
The money, however, goes into the cyber criminal’s accounts and the personal data is either used for further criminal activities or sold on the dark web. And when those products fail to materialise and the fraud is discovered, it is you they will contact and your business whose reputation will be damaged.
If, however, you had registered both the .uk and .co.uk extensions, this would not have happened.
Stopping competitor tactics
Unlike cyber criminals, your competitors aren’t going to stoop so low as to commit fraud using your brand name. However, what they can do is register the domains that you haven’t. If you have mybusiness.co.uk, they can register the .com, .uk, .net and .biz versions if they are free. While they are unlikely to use these domains to host websites, what they have done is prevent you from using them.
This can have a significant impact. Firstly, anyone who erroneously thinks your website ends in .com (an assumption that many people make) won’t find your website when they type in the address. In addition, if your business expands internationally and you want to launch a website in Australia, for example, you might have difficulties if the mybusiness.au site has already been registered by someone else.
Some leading brands have paid out millions in order to buy the rights to domains registered by others. Some have even taken the matter to the courts, spending millions in legal fees.
Create a catch-all funnel
When you register a domain, there is no requirement to create a website for it. You can simply set it up so that anyone who visits it is redirected to another website. If your main website is mybusiness.co.uk, therefore, it means you can register all the other extensions and all the people who accidentally type in the wrong extension can be funneled to the right site. This means all the potential customers who failed to find you in the past can now find your products and services.
You don’t just have to do this with extensions, you can do it with common spelling mistakes too. If your business domain is mctavish.com purchasing mactavish.com might be a good idea too.
Search engines use geolocation extensions to help people find businesses that are near to them. If someone in the UK searches for a business, websites that end in .uk or .co.uk will generally rank higher.
If you want to make your business have a greater international reach, this can be helped by purchasing geolocation domain extensions for the countries you want to sell to. For example, it would make perfect sense for a business in Northern Ireland to have both a .co.uk and a .ie extension so that it could do well in search results in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Registering geolocation domains means, when the time is right for expansion, the international web address is there for you to use.
The other advantage, of course, is that international websites can be created in different languages, sell products in different currencies and promote products that are particularly popular in the various locations.
Many companies see the benefits of registering multiple domain extensions. It protects their business from criminals and competitors, it helps more customers find them and it enables them to sell to a wider market. Indeed, with so many new TLDs available today, it’s worth taking a look at the opportunities these create.
To register alternative extensions or discover the wide range of new ones available, check out our Domains page