Buying domains, whether it’s just one or many, can be a confusing experience for a business owner. You have choices on where to buy the domain, what extensions (.com, org, .net) should you grab, how much should you pay, etc. And what if the domain you really wanted is already taken?

A domain name is your address on the internet. It might be your business name, your business name spelled incorrectly, your proper name, or something else. While many of the customers I work with have their domains already purchased, many still have questions, misconceptions, and confusion about buying domains names.  Here are a few answers to those questions:

What domain name should you buy first?

Your company name, in the shortest form, is always best.  I own both and and chose to put my actual site on the shortest version.

One piece of advice I would suggest from the get-go is to do a trademark search, both nationally and in your state to see what’s already being used.

What do you do if that’s taken?

Get creative.  If had been taken, I would have used, even with in my domain portfolio.  Add where you are (like “nw”) or if your an LLC, add “llc” to the end.

A good step is to find out if the domain is taken and in use, or not in use.  If the .com is taken and you just grab the .net, how many people will be on autopilot and type in the .com anyway?  You also don’t want a business to threaten you for a similar name.  There’s less to worry about if it’s not in use.

The .com is available.  Isn’t that all I need?

NO.  If you can get your .net and .org, do it.  .info?  Grab it.  I didn’t do this when I first started out and there were other “webcami” websites out there.  Luckily, both were art related and not something else!  I monitored them and years later, I was able to grab them.

Why do I need more that one domain?

You need your domains to protect your online presence.  You don’t want anyone else to have a domain too close to yours.  It’s really worth the investment.  If you notice people commonly misspell your name or business name, buy it.

Do I need private registration?

Well, I have not done this for years.  But I know what a phishing email looks like, I don’t use my actual address on the registrations and don’t really mind having my name on the internet.  If you have issues with any of that, then go private.

If I buy a bunch of domains, will it make me rank better on Google?

Many times clients will purchase a bunch of domains names thinking they have figured out how to crack Google’s code.  Simply forwarding your domains to your site will not help your rankings.  You can use those domains to point to landing pages instead.  You can use them in your printed materials shorten URLs.  So, they can be used to increase traffic.  One big no-no is to actual mirror your site content on these various domains.  Duplicate content will most definitely hurt you.

Where should I buy my domain?

Pick one place and buy them all there.  I use GoDaddyNamecheap is great, too.  Hover is another option.  A hosting company might offer to sell you your domains.  I used to think it was a good idea to have everything in one place, but I’ve changed my opinion on that.  Having your domains all in one place is still recommended, but you can have your hosting and email somewhere else.  I do want to note that I’m not a fan of Google domains.  Your web designer will need access at some point and Google has one login for everything. That includes your email and your G Suite.  I would avoid this unless you are computer savvy enough to grant domain access to others.

Should I buy all these offers I’m getting when I buy my domain?

No.  Privacy is the only thing you should consider.  Don’t fall for business registration or get the free website unless you plan to use it.  It won’t be free forever and that renewal might surprise you. Some of these domains you are just buying to keep others at bay.  Don’t drive up your costs for no reason. Wait until you hire your web designer before adding things.

How much should I pay?

You might get a deal on the first purchase, but most of the time you’re going to pay between $12 and $17, plus taxes and fees each year.  If you plan to buy several domains a year, check out the Discount Domain Club at GoDaddy.

What if I want to let a domain go?

Did you had a great idea at 2am? If you purchased a domain name and never put up a site, it’s okay to let it go but first, see if it’s worth anything.  GoDaddy has a marketplace to sell your domain.

If you are thinking of getting rid of a domain you’ve been using, I can’t express enough that you should keep it.  A former recently client called to tell me they let their domain go and someone bought it and put up a site as if she was still in business.  They use it for backlinking.  It’s worth the money to keep them.

I hope this info is helpful if you are pondering domain purchases.  It’s important to budget for domain names for many reasons.  Spending that extra $15 a year just might save your company from a bad situation.

Resources: PC Magazine: How to Register a Domain Name for Your Website


About Cami MacNamara

Owner/Designer at WebCami Site Design. Providing web design services in Seattle since 2002. Follow me: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram