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Should You Get A .com Domain Name At All Costs?

questioning.jpgFinding the right domain name can make a difference between a successful website and one that’s stuck in the pit of mediocrity. Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but there is some truth here.

The question is, how importat is the .com? Should you get closetowhatIwant.com or should you get exactlywhatIwant.net or even mybusinessname.biz?

Alex King has been facing this exactly question as he renames his business from King Design to Crowd Favorite. Of course, he couldn’t wrestle crowdfavorite.com away from its current owner. So he came up with either using crowdfavorite.net or crowdfave.com.

Which would you choose? And why?

Alex polled his readers and got mixed feedback with crowdfavorite.net winning out by a small margin. Which was good because he had already decided to use crowdfavorite.net. But as he said it, “the response to crowdfave.com has gotten my attention. This decision is holding up a number of things, but I want to make sure I've thought it through completely.”

Personally, I’ve always held the position that the .com was ultimately better. And unless you really couldn’t find one you like, you should always choose a .com.

A couple of the comments Alex got made me think about this position, though. Brian Warren of Be Good Not Bad suggested:

…i'd rather have a .net domain and have it be the name of my company than have a .com and have it not.

Others had similar feedback. And there’s some great advice “out there” on selecting a domain name:

But what do you think? Is a .com the only way to go? Or does the extention matter that much today?

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Comments

  1. I think ‘always’ is a dangerous word. :) We can come up with lots of examples of successful websites that don’t use ‘.com’ (thesecret.tv, del.icio.us etc etc)

    Also, it seems that most traffic comes from… the web. Which means that there is a link. Whether it’s in an email, a search engine result, or on another website, many people don’t actually have to type the URL.

    I think, in many ways, you’re right, that .com is the easiest and most obvious choice. And it’s going to be increasingly hard to find the perfect name available without going to an alternative suffix.

    I give my clients the same advice- choose .com if you can. But, if you can’t… what can you do? Choose what works.

  2. Thanks for the link.

    I think you should always go with .com. If you don’t own the .com then you are going to lose traffic to the company that does own it.

    Also, for whatever reason, most people remember .com better than .net.

    Nice post.

  3. Hugh | A Politically Incorrect Entrepreneur says:

    I think it depends on the nature of your business.

    If you plan on getting most of your traffic from Search Engines, I say go after keywords and forget .com, but if you spend a lot of time and money in the offline community, go after .com.

    Extreme Example: How would you like to own International Business Management and try to promote http://WWW.IBM.CC as your domain name?

    If your customers will come to you by typing you in, you need the .com, because that is what most people will assume anyway. In my extreme example above, all the dollars you spend promoting your site went to advertise for IBM.

  4. I think it totally depends. A business should at least try to own the domains that match their names.

    If there are others out there already, .net may be a good way to go. For example, when Darren Rowse started ProBlogger, the .com name was taken so he went with .net. That blog has been very successful to say the least.

    And he recently was able to acquire the problogger.com domain. So who knows what the future holds?

    When I started my first blog I wanted my name as the domain, but the .com URL was taken. I chose the .net route too. It seems to be working OK.

    .com is preferable certainly. But one of the core rules about the web seems to be that all the rules have huge exceptions.

  5. Hugh | A Politically Incorrect Entrepreneur says:

    I remember that Darren at Problogger mentioned an increase in traffic when he acquired the .com name that he attributed to type ins.

  6. Chris,

    Great to see you back here. Thanks so much for kicking off the conversation.

    I wrote this post because I’ve been rethinking my position on the .com issue the past couple of months. Alex just sort of tipped me over the edge. I think getting your business name is more important than getting a .com.

    By the way, since you’re using a .net have you had any known issues with people not finding you?

    Mark,

    What I did about a month ago is list all the ways I could think of that someone would be led to your site. The great majority were from links either on sites, email or electronic documents. Few of those were nonlinks, like telephone conversations and direct word-of-mouth (not email or blog posts). Even a business card would have the correct URL it print for people to see.

    My conclusion, at this point, is that is matters for less today than it did a few years ago.

    George,

    You’re welcome…and welcome here. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

    I’ve really thought that way too. But I’m feeling that’s the case less and less. Mostly for what I wrote above. There are just fewer and fewer instances where people have to remember a domain name. And with linking, it really doesn’t matter.

  7. Dawud – this is a great question. I have owned Keystrokes.net for almost 10 years because I have never been able to get a hold of keystrokes.com – even though it doesn’t appear to really be used. I have essentially given up on getting it, too.

    Moving, forward, I would rather have the .com, but .net is a good second choice.

  8. Hey Dawud,

    Sorry for the ‘long time no comment’… I have been a little busy, I do read your posts however.

    For me, when choosing a domain name, I get a piece a paper and a pencil and brainstorm the different keywords I want to use for marketing. I will get about ten or so on the list and then start crossing out the lesser effective ones. When I am lock in on my most effective keyword phrase, that’s my domain name.

    From there, I will search to see if it is available. I cross my fingers that the .com is there, but if not, then I do NOT sacrifice my keywords for a .com domain name. Generally speaking, search engines don’t see much difference, they look for the keywords in the domain name. Then they look to see if our title and description match it, and then they check to see if relevant content wrap all around it like a taco!

    Choosing the domain name is THE most important thing you can do in a search engine marketing stand point. And in my opinion, it is the foundation to SEO.

    Domain name -> To Title / Description -> To content that compliments and logically clings itself to the two.

  9. Char,

    Hey Char. Thanks.

    I would agree, the .com is still preferable. But knowing that we’re running out of .coms, I think it’s important to consider what to do next.

    Do you use Keystrokes.net just for your business?

    Garry,

    Hey Garry, great to ‘see’ you again. Comment as long as you like. I’ll listen (and hopefully so will everyone else) and comment back so we can have a conversation. But you already know that…

    And I was hoping to hear from you since you bring the SEO perspective. Sounds like you’re for the domain not the extension. So what extension would you turn to second? Third?

    One other question for you, how do you feel about hyphens in domain names?

    Hugh,

    Hi Hugh. Thanks for joining in.

    Really good point and an excellent example. What would be your domain name strategy for International Business Management? Would you go for keywords or tagline or something else?

  10. I agree with Char. Same thing happened to me. I wanted laurenmarie.(something) because I knew I’d get married some day and my last name would change. The laurenmarie.com domain was already taken, but it hasn’t been updated since like 2001, which is really annoying. I think the owner has it on auto-renew so who knows if I’ll ever get a hold of it.

    While I agree that people generally remember .com better, I don’t think the .com site will necessarily steal your business. If someone knows you, your product, logo, etc. and they don’t see it on the .com, they may try to search for it. This is where good SEO (search engine optimization) comes in.

    I think it’s also important to not create variations, slang or truncations of your name. That would just confuse people more. Like in the article’s example, I think people are less likely to remember crowdfave than crowdfavorite, even though the former has a .com attached. I can’t think of any real examples off the top of my head, but I know I’ve been to sites that are variations of the company name and I can never remember them! I do think initials would be ok to use, however, especially for businesses with longer names.

  11. Why not have both, with one redirecting to the other? Domain names are easily affordable.

  12. I think you would be surprised how many people still type in doman names by hand, especially non-techies. I am a techie, and I still do it.

    I used to always have a problem with typing in the address for problogger (Darren Rowse’s site) because it was .net and I would invaribly type in the .com.

    Personally, I would just go with a different domain name, but it is true that there are less and less good .com names available every day.

  13. LaurenMarie,

    Thanks. I agree. I don’t like truncating names either. I think Alex using crawdfave just to get the .com would have been a mistake. Maybe not a huge one – especially when you consider Alex’s following – but a mistake none the less.

    I’m also not a great fan of hyphens. Though I’ve helped some clients get hypenated .coms. I’m always torn.

    Thanks for adding great pieces to the conversation.

    Jean,

    That would certainly work too. The question, though, is choosing which one is the primary domain with the site on it.

    George,

    It sounds like I would be surprised. I know people do it, but perhaps I’m underestimating how often. I would think it’s quite low.

    So you’re saying you’d go with the .com, even if you have to change domains?

  14. I should add that it really depends on how you are going to market your site. As George says, there are tons of people that manually type the domain name in the address bar.

    If you want a pretty domain name that will look nice on a business card, then you will want to sacrifice good keywords in the domain name.

    But if you are out to get great placement in the SERP’s you will want a domain name that has the keywords in it that you are targeting. With or without the hyphens and regardless of extension.

    My extension selection is .com and then .net I typically don’t purchase domain names with other extensions. Typically 9 out of 10 times I can find a domain name to market an idea, project, etc… successfully in the search engines.

    However, search engine marketing is not everything. My personal site (found by clicking my name) barely exists in Google. Yet, with social networking, contributing on other sites, and general word of mouth has made my site a pretty busy one.

    All in all, when you launch a site, you need to sit down and carefully plot everything out on paper first. With marketing, SEO and SEM you should spend a lot of time investigating the SERP’s to see where your site will fit in… from there set a goal to get it there.

    I have a few dot Com sites up on the Net and it has all been an exhilarating challenge… totally fun and I enjoy every minute of it.

    Choose your domain name wisely. Select the domain name that will match your area of marketing. Again, this goes back to the business card VS SEM standpoint. Ideally, it would be good to find a name that balanced both. :)

  15. Dawud – Keystrokes.net is just my business site – basically my portfolio. When I started this whole blogging thing, it never occurred to me to just install WP on my existing domain. Looking back, I’m fine with it because EssentialKeystrokes.com and CasualKeystrokes.com have kind of grown into their own little entities with personalities of their own. Although the latest Essential Keystrokes design is pulled from the elements of keystrokes.net.

    If I can ever get Keystrokes.com, I probably will and just use a redirect.

  16. I think that if a brand is well known, then .com is the way to go, because that is how people will initally look for you, however if it is a new brand or unknown brand, I believe .net or .biz is just as effective.

  17. Funny, I look at this from a completely different angle ;-)
    For a UK based business a .com domain feels ‘American-based’ (although many UK companies have a .com domain also – I have three). That’s why all our main domains end with .co.uk This also helps us being found sooner and higher on the search-engine results (specially when the visitor is using google.co.uk or yahoo.co.uk etc). The dot co dot uk indicates immediately we are UK based (and that’s where our customers are ;-))

    As for hyphens in the domain name: yes, we have in wood-you-like because it ‘reads’ easier when printed on business cards etc. We now also own (after three years waiting) woodyoulike.co.uk to ‘capture’ all (woodyoulike.com is owned by a company in Ireland – wooden furniture) and woodyoulike.eu, but the eu doamin names haven’t turned into the hype everyone was expecting. Got that just in case ;-)

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  18. I’d do everything I could to research domain availability before picking a name for a business. Trademark is another issue that comes into play here, and while domain availability doesn’t guarantee a clean trademark, it’s a good start.

  19. Another tip – always check archive.org (The Way Back Machine) before purchasing a domain name. It’s always good to know if the domain had a seedy previous life or not – you just never know…

  20. I’m a firm believer in the dot com for commercial ventures. If it’s anything else you could always go with the dot net or dot org. Alex needs to work on his wrestling moves. :)

  21. Garry,

    Great points. This is the most honest explanation I’ve seen. Not everything on the web is about SEO.

    Hugh,

    It would be interesting to ask Darren about the percentage of increase. Dot-coms are probably best. But is it better than getting the right name for your business?

    Char,

    I saw that. I like what you’ve done. When I was still using healthywebdesign.com, I used dmiracle.com as a portal for all my sites as well.

    Mark,

    Another great point. It seems the ‘right’ trend is to evaluate your business and its branding as part of the decision making process.

    Karin,

    Yes. I’ve worked with a number of folks in the UK and have seen this as well. Yet they often want the .com as well – especially if their business can be done virtually.

    Ed,

    I see that. Trademark is definitely something to consider. How do you look up Trademark info?

    Char,

    I actually didn’t know about archive.org. Thanks. Great tip.

    Business Blogger,

    But what if you can’t get the .com you want for your business?

  22. In the USA, you can visit http://uspto.gov/ for trademark info. Outside of that, I’m not sure.

  23. Dawud-

    You need the dot com for a commercial venture at this point in time. It’s a trust thing. It can depend on your audience though. If your audience is net savvy then you could probably make an exception.

    Getting that great domain name is one of the topics I focus on in my blog. Acquiring a great domain name can be tough, but not impossible.

  24. id stick to dot coms but its really dependant on what you are doing or trying to acheive maybe in the sense of geo targetting aswell

  25. Ed,

    Great. I didn’t know about this site. Thanks.

    Business Blogger,

    I do think it depends on your market. Dot coms are certainly have their advantages today. But I do think the tide is turning.

    shaz,

    Good point. In the States we think of .com as being the ‘thing.’ But in the UK, where I’ve had plenty of clients, .com is ‘American.’ Brits want co.uk.

  26. The .com name means a lot and goes a long way, too. As was mentioned in the original post. I had bought and used for 18 months “harlanvampires.com” because that represents the series of books I’ve written and am still working on. However, I realized back in February as I was creating a business card that I didn’t want to get boxed into that moniker. I don’t want to be known for just that name. So I bought mariadkins.com and a lot happier.

  27. The answer depends upon the quality of dot com domains available and their respective prices.

    “WS” is just two letters. Those two letters, at the end of a domain name, are no more difficult to remember than a “My”, “Top”, “The”, or worse yet a numeral being located somewhere in the domain.

    There has been an astounding lack of innovation when it comes to companies trying to brand different TLDs. The notion that ‘dot com’ is all that’s out there that’s worth having is the result of a toxic groupthink that has contributed to a lot of domain names being unnecessarily long and difficult-to-remember.

  28. I always buy the .com version of my .ie domain as the majority of people in Ireland tend to assume our website is .com and not our countries TLD.

  29. I use .org domain for more than 1 year and i dont think that i want .com domain… but demand of .com is very high at all places

  30. Godaddy.com i one of mine favorite domain website i would recommend to everyone its best site…

  31. I think a .com is essential for a business site but for anything else, it depends on your audience. .net and .org can sometimes be just as good if you are looking mainly at search engine traffic. I own quite a few .net domains because they suited my need at the time and the .com unobtainable.

  32. Oh, and to add, I find it kind of odd that a big company like Epic Records couldn’t get a hold of thefray.com, which is a deserted domain with ads. Could it cost THAT much to where they couldn’t afford it? Or maybe it just wasn’t worth it to them.

  33. When purchasing a domain, it is important to not only buy the .com but also .net as well in order to get traffic from both.

    For instance, if you have http://www.me.net, you can link all traffic from that url to http://www.me.com. It is a great way to receive more traffic as well as keep your name relevant in SEO’s like google.

    I recommend purchasing .com’s and .nets from GoDaddy.com. They provide great service, reliable customer care, as well as fast start up.

    Due to economic times, everyone is tending to have promotions and such going on. I found a 30% promo code for GoDaddy Uk. It is as follows:

    30% any .coms or renewals – slam3

    Let me know if you need anything else. Thanks.

  34. Choosing a Domain says:

    I wouldn’t agree with getting a ‘.com’ domain at all costs, probably because mine is a ‘.net’ and I haven’t seen any difference between this and the average ‘.com’!

  35. I don’t think there is a lot of difference between .com and .net nowadays. Just check Alexa to find that some hugely popular sites are .net. The only thing is that poeple are used to .com, so they will more likely “writecrowdfavorite.com” rather than “crowdfavorite.net” but regular users will get used to .net.

    ** I WOULD DEFINITELY GO WITH .NET IN THIS CASE and make sure to buy all the other available TLDs for my brand name.

  36. I agree that there is not a lot of difference between the extensions but I also agree that I would get the .com domain at all costs. We have done some tests and found that our customers will gravitate towards a .com name more than other common extensions.

  37. Awsome post and right to the point. I don’t know if this is truly the best place to ask but do you people have any thoughts on where to employ some professional writers? Thank you :)

  38. There’s more to registering domain names than many people realize. To be fair, it’s not difficult by any means, but if you usually do not cover all your bases in the beginning it could come back to haunt you eventually.

    That’s why it’s helpful to keep a few things in mind before you get started and as you happen to be going through the procedure.

  39. Agree with Chris. It totally depends on what we want to accomplish with our sites. However perhaps in these days it is not easy to grab exact keyword domains. So many of them have been taken, even the ones that consist of 4 words.

  40. I wish I had read this before I had chosen my domain name. In saying that should my name ever become popular I currently have the whole first page of Google to myself. LOL.

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