Let’s say you want to buy a new domain for your new project: Fast WordPress Hosting. Ideally, you’d want to get fastwordpresshosting.com. But, as expected, it’s not available. For sake of example, let’s say it was. Great, plunk down the $8.99 with a reliable domain registrar and it’s yours. Dot-com, wooo! But then you think, “Do I need to get the dot-org, dot-net and dot-everything?”
Still, the dot-com address is the strongest bet. If you can get that, you’re in good shape. But what about variations on the spelling? Or hypens? Do you need to get all of these too?
The dollars are starting to add up. Don’t forget these are annual costs. Which spellings are important? Which domains?
Will people type in the domain or use Google?
Things have changed with the power of search–the idea that most people won’t type in a URL, but they’ll search for the terms in Google. Here’s the Google search for “fast wordpress hosting” (with no quotes):
- Google search for: fast wordpress hosting
As of today, the business who owns fastwordpresshosting.com isn’t even on the first page. Or second. Or third. Hmm. So they might as well not even exist–or at least be competition. Wouldn’t they “automatically” be on the first page because they have an exact match domain? Not necessarily. In fact, who comes to the top? Well, the very top are the advertisements. The people who pay get to the top. But that’s not the same as true search, of course. So who’s at the top of the search results? The sites with the most “authority” on those search terms. This the heart of SEO (search engine optimization).
Does the domain name even matter anymore?
You could make an argument that the domain name plays a much less powerful role than it did before search became so commonplace. Who is at number one in search? Our pals over at WP Engine. Did they buy fast-wordpress-hosting.biz? No, they didn’t bother. They just have a page on their site that’s dedicated to Fast WordPress hosting or at least is “optimized” for that search term. You’ll notice I’m talking about SEO here more than domain names or variations on spelling. That’s because the Internet isn’t the Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages, at least in its paper form, didn’t have search. You went to the page you wanted (under the letter F for fast … or maybe W for WordPress or maybe H for hosting … ) and found them and called them.
To answer the question of whether or not you need to worry about your (future) competition buying up near spellings of your domain name, ask yourself this: are they also willing to put up a site that’s going to have the same (or greater) authority on the subject than my site? Are they willing to put in the time (or pay the robots) to build and maintain it? In fact, and again, this is more about authority than domain names, you should be more worried about a large competitor putting up a single page with the topic you’re covering. In other words, wpengine.com/fastwordpresshosting. That page has authority. That’s the one who’s going to beat you to page one of Google.
Don’t focus on the domain, focus on the content–and authority.
So instead of buying up all variations of the domain extension and possible spellings of the domain, focus on being the source for that topic. If you have authority AND good content, your chances will shoot up.
For kicks, I didn’t choose the topic of the example domain for nothing. If you don’t count the ads, you’ll see that Likoma’s own “Fast WordPress Hosting” page comes up third, right after two pages from WP Engine. Well, it did as of today. We’ll see how the authority goes by the time you read this. If you want to get nitpicky about it, we should have really made the title of that page “Fast WordPress Hosting” and not Host Gator, but it’s been that way forever (speaking of authority, it takes time to build up!). We could have also made the URL: likoma.com/fast-wordpress-hosting.