Why Buy Multiple Versions of Your Domain Name?

Domain name confusion: Where am I?There used to be three streets named Washington in the area I live: Washington Blvd., Washinton Pl., and Washingon Wy. (this last one has, thankfully, been renamed).

Not surprisingly, this was confusing and people often got lost, especially people who were relatively new to the area.

And if you had a business on one of the Washingtons, you likely lost business because some people couldn’t find you.

I definitely remember looking for a store I heard was “on Washington” (assuming it was Washington Blvd, the biggest of the streets), giving up when I didn’t find it, and only much later learning the store was on one of the lesser trafficked Washingtons. (Atlanta is more widely known to have and much bigger issue with streets named with some variation of Peachtree.)

Losing customer traffic can be an even bigger issue for business websites if they don’t plan to prevent confusion by registering multiple versions of their domain name or URL.

Online, domains ending in .com are dominant. They are the Washington Boulevards and main Peachtree Streets of the Web, the place most people will assume your business is.

That’s why one of our top domain name tips is to get a domain name ending in .com if possible.

If it’s important that you get a specific domain name but only the .net or .org extensions are available, you may still want to get it, but know that you will lose some amount of traffic to the .com site.

For the same reason, you’ll want to register multiple extensions of the same domain. It’s a simple, inexpensive way to assure that people won’t miss you by going to YourBiz.net instead of YourBiz.com (much simpler than opening a store on each of the three Washingtons to make sure people can find you).

You’ll also want to register any likely misspellings of your domain (just think how confusing it would have been if there were Washinton and Washingten streets nearby as well). Homonyms can be confusing: is it ThreeSuns.com or ThreeSons.com? Also numbers: 3Sons.com or ThreeSons.com?

If you have a business name that is purposely “misspelled,” like Three Sunzz, it’s even more important to register the more common spellings. Flicker.com was supposedly getting over 3 million hits from people looking for the popular photo sharing site Flickr.com before Flickr.com eventually bought the more commonly spelled version of the domain.

And you should also consider registering different variations of your company name: if you own a craft store called The Big Yarn Company, your customers may look for you at TheBigYarnCompany.com, BigYarnCompany.com, TheBigYarnCo.com, BigYarn.com, etc. Even if you are lucky enough to own Yarn.com, you may still want to register these other variations, both for traffic purposes, but also to support and protect your brand.

Be aware, if you don’t register variations of your brand’s domain name, others will. And that creates the possibility that consumers may be confused and think the site they landed on with all the spammy ads is your site.

It’s best if you register your multiple domain names right away when you sign up for web hosting service, but you can go back and register new domain names at any time for just $20 a year. That’s less than $2 a month, very well spent.

Whenever you a get new domain variation, you simply set up what’s called a 301 redirect, so that when people type in or link to any of this alternate URL, they will go to your main domain/website automatically.

As a final word of advice, when you register your domain names, you should also consider protecting them with these three domain protection services from EarthLink Web Hosting: Private Domain Name Registration, Domain Name Guard, and Domain Name Monitor. You can add each service for just $1 a month. (Our previous blog post can help you learn more about protecting your domains.)

Domain Name Email Addresses for Your Business

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post discussing how to find the best domain names for your business.

This is a follow up. But only sort of. Because it’s about email.

Most people focus on domain names only in the context of a website. And that makes sense. A domain name is often synonymous with your website, and your website can be synonymous with your business. Amazon.com is a domain name. Amazon.com is a website. Amazon.com is a very successful business.

But a domain name can also be good for your business apart from your website: by letting you communicate with customers, potential customers, suppliers and partners with custom, branded email addresses.

Domain email addresses are valuable as extensions of your brand. When you include your email address on business cards or marketing material, being able to show your domain in the address helps you reinforce your brand identity. It also makes the address easier to remember.

Domain email addresses are also important trust factors that can help your business succeed online. If you were considering buying from two businesses and one had you send email to an @yahoo.com (or @gmail.com or @hotmail.com etc.) email address and the other had a custom Support@YourBusiness.com domain email address, you’ll probably trust the 2nd at least a little more. And sometimes that extra trust is all you need to tip the scales for you.

That’s why EarthLink even offers a low-cost Domain Email service for customers who want to use a domain name for email but aren’t ready yet to launch a website with full web hosting service.

So, now that you know why you might want to use domain email (with or without a domain name website), here’s how to get started with it after you’ve become an EarthLink Web Hosting or Domain with Email customer. It’s super simple!

How to Set Up Domain Name Email Addresses

1. Sign in to the EarthLink Control Center at cc.earthlink.net
2. Click the orange EMAIL tab at the top of the page.
3. Under Manage Email Accounts, click the Add Mailbox button (a mailbox is the first part of your full domain email address).
4. On the New Mailbox form, simply pick a name for the new mailbox you want at your domain name, then choose a password, confirm the password, and click the green Save button. It takes just a few seconds for your new email address to be created.
5. Repeat step 4 for an other email addresses you want to create.

Our Domain with Email plan allows you to create up to 50 email addresses (mailboxes). Our Web Hosting services come with 100 – 500 email addresses depending on plan you choose.

Some popular mailbox names and types for businesses are:

• YourFirstName@YourDomain.com
• YourFullName@YourDomain.com
• YourTitle@YourDomain.com
• EmployeeNames@YourDomain.com
• Help@YourDomain.com
• Info@YourDomain.com
• Sales@YourDomain.com
• Support@YourDomain.com
• YourSlogan@YourDomain.com
• Newsletter@YourDomain.com
• Subscribe@YourDomain.com
• Members@YourDomain.com
• VIP@YourDomain.com

Let us know your experience with domain email and any mailbox names you like to use!

Web Hosting – Get Your Business Online (Part 2 of 3)

Welcome to the second article in our three part series “Get Your Business Online!”

Part 1: Claiming Your Domain and Email read this article HERE!

Part 2: Branding & Design

Part 3: Site Functions & Customer Needs read this article HERE!

Last week, we outlined the first step in getting our business online.  Now let’s talk about branding and design!

Branding is a fancy way of making sure your business comes across as “Needed, Interesting, Consistent, and Easy to buy from.”

It can seem daunting to design a new website, but remembering that it just needs to be as “NICE” as possible makes it a lot easier!

Here’s an example, using fictitious business “The Happy Candy Company.”

Needed: Everyone with a sweet tooth wants to satisfy their craving, so I make sure that I consistently point out why MY candy is better at satisfying cravings than other candy companies.  This could be my original flavors, faster shipping, friendly customer service, or lower price.  Everything I write needs to point back to the fact that The Happy Candy Company is needed in the market!  Give your customer the info they seek to see why you’re…needed.

Interesting: Make sure the information is presented in an engaging way.  If the reason the market needs The Happy Candy Company is because they have the best customer service, say so in an interesting way!  “Even our customer service is sweet!” is more engaging than “We have great customer service.”  Getting new customers will be a lot easier if they realize why they need you, and find you interesting.

Consistent: It can be easy to go overboard with being interesting (“I have six cute slogans for how good my customer service is, so I’ll have a new slogan on every page!”, but people can easily become overwhelmed.  Keep your website consistent so people will more easily remember the interesting ways you pointed out how they need you!

Easy to Buy From: Should your customers be able to order online, or is that not necessary (NOTE: we’ll cover specifics of this next week!)?  If they’re calling you for orders, is your phone number easy to find and read?  Can they easily see pricing?  How many steps does it take to buy?  …the easier you make purchasing, the better off you’ll be!

For info on designing a website using EarthLink’s FREE Website Builder, click HERE!