If you’re planning on starting a new business, and want to take it online, you’ll need a domain name. We’ve previously discussed what you should consider when choosing your key domain name, such as using location-specific extensions to define your brand.

But if you want to make sure you protect your business’s identity, you’ll have to think about what other domains to get hold of. Due to the number of domains and extensions available, one domain name isn’t always adequate.

Getting started

The first thing you’ll need to do is think of a business name – you might already have one in mind. It could be related to the product or business type, but many new companies, especially those based on the web, instead go for a more ‘random’ name. These include misspellings of existing words, or completely new words altogether. Sites such as Namelix let you generate lots of options for business names from a few keywords.

One advantage of making up a new, unique word, rather than using existing ones, is that your desired domain names are less likely to be taken. However, either way, you’ll need to check all of your favourite ideas. If you have your heart set on the popular .com domain extension, you might be surprised at how difficult it is to find an available domain name. With our domain availability checker you can instantly find out if your desired domain is available, and if it’s not, you’ll be suggested a list of alternatives.

Locking in

Once you’ve found your primary domain name – whether it’s .com, .uk or .blog – you’ll be able to get started in setting up a website and personalised email. But to make sure that there’s no confusion, it might be worth buying up some other similar domain extensions. While .com no longer needs to be your first choice, if you expect that there could be competition, you should try securing it for yourself and redirecting it to your primary domain.

In fact, our resident domains expert here at Fasthosts (who we did a Q&A with) told us how surprised she is that businesses aren’t investing in multiple similar domains in order to protect their brand. She suggested that new businesses should carefully consider which domains would be best to invest in.

As well as this, it might be worth buying domain extensions relevant to your industry, even if you don’t intend to use them. For example, a coffee shop might get a domain like coffeeshop.com, but could also take the domain coffeeshop.cafe.

While this might seem like a substantial amount of money considering you’ve barely even started, the goal is to protect your business from issues in the future. Leaving key, relevant domains open gives both competitors and domain squatters a chance to take advantage of your brand, which can cost you more money in the future. Legal fees in trademark battles can greatly outweigh the yearly cost of securing all your relevant domains.

Unintended consequences

A well-known example of a domain squatting incident was in April 2020, when Meghan and Harry Windsor announced their new charitable organisation, the Archewell Foundation.

However, shortly after the announcement, users flocked to the URL archewellfoundation.com, only to find that Meghan and Harry hadn’t bought the domain – but someone else had. The person who bought it had set it to redirect to a YouTube video of Kanye West’s Gold Digger. This, of course, led to media uproar and didn’t reflect well on the foundation or its founders.

All in all though, this domain-squatting attempt was quite harmless – the squatter could have directed visitors to a site which automatically downloaded malware onto their computer, or to a site with inappropriate content. This could have been catastrophic for their brand, but they were fortunate that the squatter was only intending to play a prank.

This is why buying a domain should be one of the first things you do for your business – even if you don’t operate online, securing your brand name means that if you did ever want to get online, you’ve kept your options open.

Keep it secure

Typosquatters are another threat to watch out for. They buy common misspellings of established businesses, such as “gooogle.com”, and may set up fraudulent websites aimed at catching the people who accidentally enter the intended URL incorrectly. These sites are often phishing websites, which present a convincing recreation of the actual site to trick users into entering their personal details. More bold squatters will simply set up websites which forcibly download malware to the user’s computer.

Because of this, you might also want to consider purchasing common misspellings of your brand name. While this isn’t so much of a problem for smaller businesses, it’s something worth considering as you grow. Again, what seems like an unnecessary purchase now could save far more hassle and costs down the line.

We’re not saying you should buy all of your domain extensions and every possible typo, as that would be unnecessary. If you’re worried about costs, we’re always running offers on our domains. Take a look at our website to use our domain checker, and find out more about our deals.