As COO of Webnames.ca, board member of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and a former President of Wired Woman, I attend a lot of business and networking events. I have met a lot of successful entrepreneurs, executives of large corporations and owners of startup companies alike. One question that I get asked more than any other is – “Which domain should we register,.com or .ca? It’s a simple question with a simple answer. Both!
In fact, my advice has always been if you can afford it secure them all: .com, .ca, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .mobi, .us, .cn. Here are some reasons why –
It’s inexpensive to do– The cost of a domain name is relatively small. People don’t think twice about spending $5.00 for a large cappuccino every morning. The cost of a domain is about $0.13 a day. Multiply this by 10 domain names and that’s still only $1.30 a day. I’m not saying go without your morning java … but if you can afford your daily coffee, you can definitely afford registering your business names in a variety of extensions.
Business expense You can’t write your morning coffee written off, but your domain names are a legitimate business expense.
Your domain name is a valuable business asset – Many businesses think about exit strategies at some point in time. When selling a company, having your business and brand domain names secured can mean a higher selling price. People have long recognized office equipment, accounts receivables, inventory, land holdings and patents as assets of a company. Domain names are definitely written into all purchase and sale agreements these days as assets and if you have secured your brand carefully, it can add considerable value to your company. Have you seen what domain names are selling for these days?
Protect your business against cybersquatting – Cybersquatting is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad-faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. Since domain names are offered on a “first come, first served” basis, there is nothing to stop individuals from registering either new or expired domains a legitimate business might want now or in the future. Well-known companies and product manufactures, celebrities and political candidates often discover that someone else has registered their names. Although trademark laws offer some protection, it’s often less costly to purchase the domain from a cybersquatter than it is to sue. Of course, the cheapest and easiest method is to register your domains before someone else does. Smaller companies and startups used to go unnoticed by cybersquatters, but that’s changing as well. If you are a growing company, starting to get someÂ media coverage and/orÂ decent search engine rankings, you better start reviewing your domain name portfolio right away.
Drive traffic – Having numerous domain names doesn’t mean having to host them all. You have one main website and then forward the rest of your domains to it (domain forwarding is free at Webnames.ca). So if someone types one domain extension instead of another, it doesn’t matter. You are guaranteeing that your customers will find you.
Differentiate your markets – Your can have a separate landing page or even a separate site for your Canadian customers at yourcompany.ca showing Canadian currency, shipping info, etc than at yourcompany.com page. Yourcompany.info page can be corporate information about your company or customer testimonials. Having these separated can help you track where your traffic is coming from as well.
In terms of the other extensions, you can build a .mobi or mobile website for the millions of wireless handheld devices out there. With mobile use growing at a staggering rate (already outnumbering PC’s by 4 to 1), mobile websites will soon become a must for most businesses. Your .us domain can be for your US market with US currency and shipping info. And of course if you plan to do business in China, securing your .cn is a must – it remains the fastest growing domain extension.
Defending your trademark According to trademark law, your mark is protected only if you are actively protecting it. If someone violates your mark, it’s your responsibility to object and defend it. If you don’t, you weaken your position in future disputes. If someone has registered your trademark as a domain, you need to review and pursue a claim through the Unform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy or Canadian Dispute Resolution Policy to resolve the issue.
And how long should you register your domain? – Google had filed a patent US Patent Application #20050071741 – Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data which suggests registering your domain name for a longer term can help improve your Google rankings. Google tries to determine the legitimacy of a domain name and according to the document, valuable domains are often paid for several years in advance while throwaway or “doorway” domains are rarely registered for more than a year. To determine the value of a domain, Google records the following information:
- The length of the domain registration (one year <-> several years)
- The address of the web site owner, the admin and the technical contact
- The stability of data and host company
- The number of pages on a website (web sites must have more than one page)
Google claims that they have a list of known bad contact information, name servers and IP addresses that helps them to find out whether a spammer is running a domain. So what does this mean for you? Optimizing your website for Google can require considerable work. Extending your domain registration term may not make a huge impact but clearly it helps and if you can afford it, registering for 10 years makes a lot of sense. I have just extended “webnames.ca” for the maximum 10 year term and I’ll update you in the future as to whether this makes any difference.
See our previous blog post on this topic at http://webnamesblog.ca/index.php/2007/09/25/longer-domain-registrations-help-search-engine-rankings/