Should you buy more than one domain for your website?
Many of my clients have purchased multiple domains with the hopes of it helping their search engine rankings. Most of the time, pointing additional domain names at your website will not accomplish a bump in your search engine results. Even if you don’t always see a ranking boost, you might want to purchase extra domain names.
What is domain forwarding?
Creating a website using multiple domain names begins with setting up your primary domain name. When additional domain names redirect to your primary domain, the process is called domain forwarding. The settings are from your domain registrar (where you purchased the domain name). In this way, you can forward as many additional domain names as you wish.
Here’s an example:
webcami.org forwards to webcami.com. There are no website files at webcami.org. They are all at webcami.com.
There are three domain forwarding options to choose from:
- 301 redirect – permanent forward – this is the one used most often and tells search that the forward is permanent
- 302 redirect- this is a temporary forwarding option. You might use this for a promotion or testing.
- Forwarding with masking – You can use this forwarding type to redirect to a new domain or website by selecting the address bar URL you want to use.
What is domain forwarding with masking?
Domain forwarding with masking redirects visitors to your chosen destination URL, just like above, but it keeps your forwarding domain name in the browser address bar. So, the actual website URL is cloaked. Sounds good, right? Well, it’s not. Websites with cloaked URLs often rank lower in search engine results. Rather than crawling the domain that website owners or managers prefer, search engines crawl masked URL websites on servers with entirely different addresses. Masking hides malicious websites’ real addresses from users. Since URL masking is often for malicious purposes, I don’t recommend it.
What are good reasons to buy multiple domains?
Multiple domain purchases can protect your brand
Protecting your brand from competitors is one reason you may want to buy extra domain names. For instance, in addition to webcami.com, I own webcami.net, webcami.org and webcami.info. The additional domains keep my brand name in my control, but it adds nothing directly to my search rankings.
Domains can now have catchy names
With TLDs (top-level domains) like .design and .plumbing, you can register a memorable and unique domain name. You might be able to stand out from the crowd by purchasing a domain with a different TLD alongside your traditional domain ending like .com or .net. I have more than one of these, including webcami.support.
If your domain name is easily misspelled, purchase variations
A brand name that is easily misspelled could also be why you buy multiple domain names. For instance, I own camimacnamara.com and camimcnamara.com. So if someone attempts to find me online and misspells my name, I’m using a redirect to send them to a landing page I created with all my contact information.
Buying domains that describe what you do, not who you are
Purchasing extra domains that describe your service and easily remembered non-branded domain names is also possible. For example, you can keep terms relating to your product line or memorable domain names out of competitors’ hands.
For this reason, I own westseattlewebdesign.com because that’s what I do! I’ve set up an alternative website for this domain because I feel it’s so crucial to my search results. However, this website has completely separate content from webcami.com.
Buying domains for specific services or products
You can point to a specific service or product page on your website using an easy-to-remember additional domain name. Of course, it won’t raise the page’s ranking, but other benefits exist.
These domains make more shareable URLs you can promote in QR codes and mailers.
Example: https://cami.care points to webcami.com/wp-care-plans
Buying abandoned domain names
An expired domain may not necessarily be a good investment simply because it’s available. There’s no reason to assume a domain name is clean simply because it expired. The past legacy of an expired domain can negatively affect your search engine ranking.
Find out if the domain or brand has a bad reputation online. You can use the Wayback Machine to review what kind of site the domain was associated with previously. Check IP addresses associated with a domain on a domain checker site like whois.com. If a direct competitor in your area gives up their domain name, you can grab it to keep someone else from getting it, then do some homework on if it’s safe to use it.
Buying several domain names is a good idea, but it’s not an SEO silver bullet
I believe purchasing .com, .org, and .net are necessary for all business owners. When I first purchased webcami.com in 2000, I only bought the .com. Later, I noticed that the .net and .org were active websites. So I outlasted those businesses and purchased both after paying to monitor them for years. Now, I have 22 domain names with some version of my name and my business name. Some are in use, and some I hold to prevent someone else from purchasing.rom
A small online business that only offers one product or service, and has a unique domain name, may not need several domain names. However, it is worth noting that if you are a well-established or small online business specializing in multiple facets or locations, you may want to invest in more domains to protect and amplify your branding.