Domain extensions aren’t just for your website anymore. They represent and provide online connection for a business or individual, marketing campaign, tracking device, delivery device and redirect from one to another. Domain extensions can be several things.
Have you tried to register a domain name and found that it is not available? Let me rephrase, are you trying to register a .COM / .NET domain and see that it is already registered? Also probably a ton of other extensions, right?
Do you have a handful of “project” areas that you haven’t used? Maybe it’s time to get creative with all of these areas. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of playing in the domain market and have seen some pretty smart uses and alternatives when you can’t get the one you want. Remember, these are just starting points for ideas.
Recently, I was talking with a friend, Joseph Peterson, a branding consultant and domain investor, about this article on alternative domain strategies. He summed up my thoughts exactly.
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“We expect domains to act like website names, home addresses for brands online. Bank of America can be found at BankofAmerica.com; and that’s it, right? In fact, there is more. Type in Loans.com and you’ll find a dedicated landing page – also for Bank of America. In fact, this company alone has over 13,500 domain names. International companies can segment their audience by country or language and strengthen their local credibility by using .AU for Australia, .CA for Canada, .UK for the United Kingdom or even .ES and .FR for a Spanish version. or French from their website.
My suggestion is that you really need to think more about all the options and long term goals when you start out.
Areas of vanity
If you’re in the market and already have equity in your current domain extension, consider a vanity. These look a lot like a personalized license plate. The purpose may be to express the individuality of the person in whose name it is registered.
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Alternative domain extensions
Just like domain hacking, it’s a good idea to consider other domain extensions. With the release of many new TLDs (Top Level Domains) in recent years, there is room to gain traction. In fact, there could be over 1,300 new “channels” available in the next few years. Some examples are .NINJA, .TRAVEL and .CLUB.
A few things to keep in mind
- Legal: Make sure no one else has their name already attached. On Uspto.gov, you can search for trademarks and see if there are any filed, requested, pending, issued, or in dispute.
- Relevant: He should be talking about who you are or what you do, one way or another.
- Short: The shorter the better. Also, try to avoid dashes, unless it is necessary and relevant.
- Simplicity: Put the ideas on paper and talk to friends, family, and people for opinions. One easy way is to send out a survey and analyze those comments. If they don’t really understand your idea, there’s a good chance most don’t either.
- Social networks: Are Twitter and Instagram identifiers available for your star domain?
- Unambiguous: Ask certain people to say it and spell it for you.
- Trendy or Timeless: in which category does the domain belong?
Try to use keywords and look natural. For example, if you are a Detroit law firm, you could use the name Detroit.Avocado because it can be more brandable and natural in appearance. Even with Detroit.agency. Any links you might get might look more natural to search engines, which is a good thing.
Many domain extensions don’t necessarily need to access an actual personal website. One option would be to direct them to your blog or social media account. In fact, I’ve seen strategies where a company has popular social channels and designs a naming convention for its primary domain name. Example: transfer from NAMEmusic.com to their Soundcloud account, transfer from NAMEtweet.com to their Twitter account and transfer from NAMEface.com to their Facebook account. This could be done in a number of ways that are creative and useful for certain industries, markets, and of course, advertising mediums. You’ve probably seen this also used in promotions for businesses for a specific competition or promotion to drive the audience to a specific site online while still maintaining the branding and funneling towards a goal.
One of my favorite places to start when I can’t get the domain I want or need ideas is XONA’s Domain Hack Tool. This tool lets you type in a word or phrase and then presents you with various options for a number of domain extensions and subdomain suggestions.
They also provide email hacks. As you can see above, while Dwight.com is being taken, another option would be to use Dwig.ht which would register the Haiti country extension. Keep in mind that some countries and extensions have very specific registration regulations, so you need to do your homework.
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Company / brand domain
Consider company and brand names and maybe even consider applying for your own business extension if you have the funding available. I can’t speak to the application process as I only experienced it second hand. There is a wealth of information, articles and videos available on ICANN.
These can be useful when you plan to create specific sites as part of a domain. Examples would be shoes.nike.com, store.nike.com and clothing.nike.com.
Whatever options you choose, it is not difficult to find alternative uses for a domain name or extension with some creativity. Take enough time and explore all the options based on your long term goals. With a proper plan, you can cover all your bases and be more aware of the potential benefits and pitfalls, giving you the ability to have a Plan B, C, and D.
Images via the author.