Should You Buy a New Top-Level Domain Name for Your Business?
Now it’s easier than ever before to buy a branded URL for your business. With the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ rollout of more than 1,400 themed domain extensions over the course of the year, you can now buy the website address of your choice with a .bike, .coffee, or .lawyer top-level domain, to name just a few of the options.
If the .com website address of your choice isn’t available, a themed domain extension may seem like an attractive option — but is it worth building your online brand around it? Consider the following points.
.Com Domains Still Dominate
There are more than 100 million registered .com domains, according to statistics from VeriSign [PDF], which far exceeds the use of any other domain extension. On a practical level, that means most people will default to including “.com” when typing in your URL unless you make a major branding effort to get customers to remember your custom domain.
What if You Can't Find a .Com Domain That Suits Your Brand?
Domain names ending in .com are generally preferable, but what if your top choice — or even your tenth choice — isn’t available? That’s a common occurrence for small-business owners. In a study conducted by Wakefield Research, 55 percent of respondents surveyed said they believe they have lost business because of their domain names. If a suitable .com URL isn’t available, it may make sense to move to a themed top-level domain. For instance, if you own a business called Sunrise Coffee and can't purchase sunrisecoffee.com or any suitable variants, consider purchasing sunrise.coffee instead.
You May Need to Buy More Than One Domain Name
Many businesses strive to protect their brand by purchasing numerous relevant domain names. But with the new business-themed domains, this can get quite expensive. If you own a chain of coffee shops, for instance, you may want to purchase a .com, a .biz, and now, even a .coffee domain name. ICANN has launched a trademark clearinghouse that allows brands to protect their trademarked names, with trademark registration available for between $95 and $150 per year. Keep in mind that this service sends a warning to those who purchase trademarked domain names, but it does not actually prevent anyone from buying them. To fully protect your brand, you’ll need to actually purchase the relevant domain names.
If you want to check on the costs and availability of brand-related domain names, a service like GoDaddy can help at no charge. If you haven’t even decided on a business name yet, try Panabee, which can help you come up with potential business names that have .com and other preferred domain extensions available.
Kathryn Hawkins is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.