Are you thinking about investing in a domain name for your business? Are you confused about where to start? We have gathered common problems and questions that people face when purchasing a domain name for their brand. Regardless of whether you are registering a domain name that’s available or acquiring it from its previous owner, those can apply.
How can I determine who owns a domain name?
If the domain you have picked is not free to register, it is likely owned by a private individual, business or a domain investor. Locating the owner of a premium domain name is a job of its own and can often take days or even weeks of research, using tools and connections, social media, calls, digging through archives - every case is different and requires a unique approach.
Using WhoIs you could find out basic contact information about the person who acquired the domain. Two things can happen: You actually get a phone number, a name or an email address, or you find out that the owner has used a privacy service. The privacy emails indicated in WhoIs can be used to reach the domain owner, there is no guarantee however that you’ll get a response. Try to be open and clear about your intentions when contacting a domain owner, keep in mind they might get inquiries for their name often and so if your message is vague it will likely be disregarded as spam. If you wish to remain anonymous you can hire a professional to reach out on your behalf. A common practice is using fake identities, that however is easy to see through and might just get you ignored.
Do I Still Need a .com TLD For My Business?
A top-level domain or TLD is the last segment of a domain name. The most common extension of TLD is .com, other popular TLDs include .gov, .net, .and .edu.
A .com domain is the default domain your customers will look for when trying to find your brand online. Also .com is easy to remember and people are accustomed to using .com to visit most of their favorite websites, so they would have to use effort to remember other extensions. Building with the future in mind, a .com domain allows you to enter a global market when you are ready. Country extensions are great to get closer and feel more familiar to your local audience. On the flip side of that they often come with the restrictions and regulations applied by the country laws, so you may end up in trouble (see the UK businesses running on .eu domains after Brexit).
So to sum it up - if you are after a local market and don’t plan to expand, if you can afford to lose some traffic and emails (to people instinctively putting .com after your brand name in the web address), then you will be ok with a local domain extension or one of the fancy new extensions out there. If you are building with a vision to grow to a global brand you are best working on protecting it from the start, so you need a good domain strategy in place.
How much should I pay for a domain name?
If you search for “how to value a premium domain name” you’ll get a lot of results and ideas - from expert appraisal to AI doing it for you. If you are lucky and do good research you may be able to get a decent name for $5k-10k. Facebook spent $8.5 million to acquire fb.com and last year (2019) Voice.com sold for $30 Million. So you can see there is quite a range. We have put together a short guide on how to value a premium domain name for your business, so whatever the cost is - you can decide whether that makes sense for you. In the end, the worth of the domain is based on how much it is of value to you and how much it can affect your business. What does it cost you not having that name, now and in the future? What opportunities can it bring to you or you can miss if you don't have it? When you put those questions into perspective, you will have a sense of the name’s worth to you and that after all is the only thing that matters.
Domain names and trademarks. How do I protect myself?
You may want to check the FAQs on WIPO’s site, the US Patent and Trademark Office, as well as read about UDPR. In human language, shortly put, domains are digital assets subject to Intellectual Property laws so you should make sure your chosen domain name does not infringe a registered trademark. If you skip that step you risk at best having your domain taken away from you and worse than that (yes, there is worse) - you can get sued for damages. Besides, nobody likes copycats.
Invented words are easy to register and offer a strong degree of protection. Arbitrary brand names, such as APPLE, are ordinary dictionary words that have been adopted for use in relation to completely unrelated goods/services. They are easily registered, as well as allusive and suggestive words, with a wide scope of protection. An unusual combination of words can also be a way to go.
You can check our article to find out hints and tips by Jane Kennedy and Michelle Bishton from Vault IP Limited, to guide you along the way to adopting a successful brand name.
What are the best domain name registrars? Why?
A domain name registrar is a service that lets you register and manage domain names. Domain name registrars have been accredited by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which is a non-profit that has been delegated the responsibility to manage the Domain Name System.
According to Make A Website Hub here are some points that should determine if the registrar for your domain is a good one :
- Ease of which to search for domain names
- Simple, no-hassle checkout process
- Easy configuration
- Intuitive dashboard for users to manage their domains
- User-friendly DNS settings
- Excellent customer service on both live support, knowledge center and phone.
- Number of upsells in the buying process
- Long history and a good reputation
We could add to the list security and laws the registrar abides too. Different countries have different regulations on how business is conducted online, so your registrar and your hosting provider are directly related to your business online. Make sure both are reliable, reachable and will have your back should any issues arise.
Best domain registrars in 2020 according to Techradar are Domain.com, GoDaddy, Hover, Dynadot, Namecheap, and Google Domains. Choosing the right domain name registrar is something that you’ll want to put time into and do proper research which of those fits your needs the best.
Should you get a domain name that’s a keyword?
A keyword domain is basically a domain name that contains keywords about your business, products, services, etc.(example, StatementJewelry.com). A branded domain is a domain name without the keywords in it (example, Amazon.com). Having a keyword in the domain name helps your website but only to a certain degree. Keywords play an important role when it comes to getting organic traffic to a website. Users type keywords into their search queries and they are more likely to click on domain names and links that contain those keywords. But don’t forget that Google is big on user experience – that means the keywords in your domain name need to be relevant and consistent with your website content. In other words, you should consider registering keyword domains that align with your website or business focus. You should avoid keyword stuffing which means artificially inflating domain name with keywords.
Do I just need one domain name?
It depends on how you plan to develop your business. Small, local businesses can well do with just one domain name. If you are going global you will likely need a good domain name strategy in place for (at least) those two reasons.
Ease of reach - every time a potential or existing client mistypes your domain, your email ends in the wrong place, your fans can’t share your brand as they don’t remember the URL correctly - that’s your marketing dollars in the bin. So getting not just your best brand match domain, but the ways your clients can misspell, the country extensions and other popular TLDs, is going to save you cash in the long run.
Security - the internet can be a rough place when it comes to security so the bigger and better your brand gets, the more you’ll have copycats and scammers trying to use it to steal your customers (or/and their data).
Most global brands own hundreds and some even thousands of domain names, related to their industry, products and specific marketing campaigns. Take Apple for example, they own over 25,000 domain names, ranging from all the ways you can mistype their brand name “Apple”, to names customers might assume are theirs (e.g. yourapple.com), country-specific domains (apple.fr), specific products (imoviestage.com), their well-known slogan - thinkdifferent.com to things that make you wonder what they’re up to like universityarts.com.
When purchasing a domain name, do I need to pay for domain privacy?
When you register a domain name, your personal details are saved in a publicly available database called WHOIS. Domain privacy protection is an ‘add on’ service you buy to protect your personal data and keep it hidden from the rest of the world. If you opt not to buy domain privacy protection, you are choosing to expose your personal information on the WHOIS public database, so anyone can see your contact details (assuming you’re the domain registrant). This includes the domain registrant’s email address, phone number, mailing address, name, and any other information required to legally register a domain name. As a result, your personal data can be sold, you can get a ton of spam emails and sales calls, your competition will be aware of what domains you own amongst other potential issues and security risks. Getting domain privacy protection is easy, inexpensive, and can save you a lot of trouble.
We hope that our answers to these most common questions will make your decisions easier. If you have any further questions or/and want to discuss your domain strategy, feel free to reach out, we are always happy to chat.