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.)