So there’s two major questions that come up when you’re looking to buy a domain. If you’ve never purchased a domain before, what we’re talking about is yourbusiness.com, or yourbusiness.ca, or yourbusiness.net, or etc. There’s two components to buying a domain
- The extension – the .com, the .ca, the .net, the .whatever . As of 2021 there are many more extensions now available for purchase on the Internet. Prices vary. .com is usually the cheapest, .ca is a little more, and then you have a number of extensions that get pricier.
- What comes before the extension – your unique brand name. If you’re building a website about your business, you probably want to purchase www.yourbusiness.com . However, what if your business name is no longer available as a .com – do you buy .net, or something else? This is a major concern that many business owners find themselves in.
So let’s tackle the extension component first – the .com, .ca, .net part. As a webmaster who has been doing this for many, many years, one thing I’ll say is – always purchase a .com when you can. The reasoning for this is both in theory and in practice. The first thing you need to understand about this is geo-location. If you purchase a .com domain, it does not limit the ability to reach any customer, anywhere in the world. It’s been long said that purchasing a .ca means that Google immediately classifies you as a Canadian business, and that while you may rank better on the google.ca search engine, you likely won’t rank with the big boys with .com domains.
Now, this can be debated. However, many webmasters will agree that much like not purchasing an SSL certificate, purchasing a domain with anything other then .com in the extension can immediately mean that you’re at a disadvantage against other websites using .com.
Protecting your Brand Name and Competing against others who use your business name
One of the worst things to find is when you try to get online and purchase www.yourcompanyname.com, that someone else already owns it. This is very likely and happens to many businesses. The reason for this is that the Internet has been around long enough now, that many have already scooped up most of the available domains. You’ll have to use some creative thinking to be able to find a .com that works or fits. Some business owners even change their business names slightly, business cards etc. just to make a .com work.
One thing you don’t want to do – say that someone owns www.yourbusinessname.com . You decide to instead purchase a different extension, like www.yourbusinessname.net . This is a bad idea. The reason this is a bad idea is because your potential site visitors or customers will start visiting the www.com website, and not your website. Worse yet; if the people who own the www.yourcompanyname.com have done any form of search engine optimization at all, chances are they’ll obtain your traffic when people are looking for your business. One of the worst scenarios is you both appear on the search engine for relevant keywords; with your competitor above you in the search results.
Everything I’ve mentioned above is highly likely, possible, and happens to many who first get started in the web game. One of the other evolving factors you have to be aware of online also, is others trying to spoof your domain. For example, you own the site www.thisismysite.com . Let’s say your website gets popular and starts attracting some attention. Someone can come along and purchase www.thisisemysite.com or something like that. Usually the spammers or scammers will just change one word and purchase a similar domain.
It’s definitely difficult to protect yourself against mistypes. If someone purchases a domain mistype like yours, and steals or copies your site, you can do something about that by reporting it to relevant web hosts, Google, etc. If they purchase a similar domain with a mistype and setup a competing website, that can be more challenging to deal with.