Domain Name Strategy Checklist for Small Businesses

  • by Ilona K.
Domain Name Strategy Checklist for Small Businesses

As a small business owner, you might feel like you have to keep a thousand things in mind at a time. Hats off, a domain name strategy may not be on top of your list. Fear not – we have you covered with a short, but handy checklist to ensure you have a best in class domain name strategy on a budget.

What is a domain name strategy – and why do you need one?

A domain name strategy is an approach to buying domain names in line with your business and branding strategy. In a nutshell, it is about getting relevant domain names and variations to prevent misuse and customers’ confusion, ultimately protecting your brand.

Benefits of thinking through a domain strategy include:

  • Making informed decisions about which domain names to buy and which ones not to.
  • Safeguarding your company against the potential trademark disputes.
  • Increasing your website’s discoverability.
  • Keeping consistent communication with your customers.
  • Future-proofing your business expansion strategy.
  • Protecting your website against potential cybersquatting.
  • Maintaining your brand reputation online.
Source: Unsplash

It might sound complicated, but developing and maintaining domain name strategy comes down to a few simple exercises and a follow-up monitoring. Use our five-step checklist to develop a strategy for your small business and keep updating it as it grows.

Domain name strategy checklist

Curating the checklist below, we assumed you already have a great business name and a website with a matching domain name, in a domain zone of your choice. A domain strategy checklist is designed to help you protect your brand online as well as plan for product and market expansion. 

If you don’t have a domain yet, first follow our guide to find and buy a domain name for your website. In case you would like a short and memorable domain name ending with .com, but the domain name of choice is not affordable at this point, explore some great subdomain options ending with .it.com. For example, if taxi.com is not available or too expensive, taxi.it.com is available to purchase with it.com Domains. This is also a great solution to build a brand association with IT or software development industries.

Once you have a main domain, go through a checklist below and develop a strategy to help your customers find your brand online.

  1. Check the common top-level domains (TLDs)

First, check if your business name is already registered by other businesses in the popular domain zones, such as .com, .biz, .org, .net and others. If your domain name already exists in all or most of them, it might cause confusion. 

However, if it’s available to purchase, and if you have resources to secure it – register your domain name in those relevant for your business.

Quick tip: you don’t need to maintain multiple websites – keep one variant as main and redirect others to it.

  1. Plan your local expansion with country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs)

Are you planning to target your website to a specific country? Check if your business name is available as a domain name in a ccTLD – for example, .co.uk for the United Kingdom or .it for Italy. 

Quick tip: if you start from Italy, but plan an international expansion later, you can secure a mirror domain at .it.com.

  1. Explore new domain zones (nTLDs)

Is your company developing an AI-powered service, or your core business relies on an app? Then it’s worth exploring a whole world of new top-level domains (nTLDs). 

Depending on your business niche, you can register additional domain names in zones like .app, .shop, .ai or .online. Think of competition: another AI service might purchase a domain name like yourbusinessname.ai to try and get some traffic from potential customers trying to find your website. 

Quick tip: New domain zones also offer a lot of possibilities for a creative name using domain hacks.

  1. Account for misspellings and variations

As your business grows, it might get increasing attention from competitors, cybersquatters and potential infringers. One tactic they use is to register an obvious variation, misspelling or phonetically similar name to mislead users trying to reach your website. 

A proactive measure against those is a proactive defensive registration policy. For example, if you are to own taxicab.com, registering taxycab.com alongside the main domain secures you against others impersonating your brand.

Quick tip: same approach goes for variations including numbers in domain name, singular and plural variations, as well as options with hyphens. 

Source: smallbiztrends.com
  1. Register a trademark

Finally, If you want to prevent others from using your brand name (as well as your business name) both online and offline, the safest option is to register it as a trademark. This step can help in any further domain disputes, should they arise in the future.

Following the steps above to strategically register domain names will help you prevent customer confusion and grow online presence as your small business grows. However, approach your domain name strategy with restraint. At the end of the day, as a small business, you don’t want to spend a ton of resources on buying domain names that are of no interest to your competitors or potential infringers. 

Once you’ve completed a checklist – step back and think which ones are absolutely critical to secure to avoid customer confusion. Shortlist the priority ones and evaluate them from a resources and growth ambitions lens. As a final step, secure the domains that will have the most impact on your business in the foreseeable future.

Need more advice to help you grow a small business online? Visit it.com Domains blog and contact us on social media.

Ilona K.
Ilona K.
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