Domain Name Mistakes

Last Update: December 23, 2014

Domain names are the cornerstone of the internet. As the primary source of internet navigation, without domain names, your customers couldn’t get around and wouldn’t know how to find you. Also, domain names form part of a company’s identity and branding. Yet many people make mistakes every day that can be extremely costly by not considering their domain name strategy carefully enough.

A web design error can be fixed. Software applications can be updated. But some domain name mistakes can stay with you a long time and could potentially cost you a lot of money in business or corrective measures.


Forgetting to update WHOIS information

Your domain name registration contains all the relevant information regarding the registered owner. But if this information is out of date, when your domain name is up for renewal, the notifications may never reach you. It is extremely common for people to register a domain using one email address and then transfer all of their email activity to the new domain without updating the registration with the new email address.

If all your domain name email is going to your old, unused email address, you may not be aware your domain is about to lapse until it is too late. A lapsed domain can be a costly affair as your website becomes inaccessible, and there is always the risk that someone else could register the domain before you can renew.

Always ensure your registration information is up to date.

Register under a personal name

A common scenario that I have seen is people have someone else register their domain names. After all, we are busy people. But, be careful that the person registers the domains under the company details and not under their own name.

Although it may not seem important at the time, as this doesn’t affect the performance of the domain. However, if there is a falling out or that person leaves the business, you may find yourself unable to access or administer your domains.

Further, some of these people are well aware of the value of domains. If they have control of your domains and you part on bad terms, your website could suffer from the fallout as ownership is debated and transfers (sometimes expensive) are negotiated.

Always ensure all company domains are registered consistently under the correct name and with the one contact address. Never allow anyone to register under their own name.

Failing to register all the alternatives

You may think that if you have one website, you only need one domain.

But what if someone else registers all the other related domain names? For example, if you own xyz.com but someone else registers xyz.net, xyz.com.au, xyz.org, etc, many of your customers may find their way to these other websites instead of yours.

If at all possible, register all the domain names related to your brand, trademark or website and simply point them all to the same spot. Therefore, no matter which domain the visitor accesses, they arrive at the same place – you.

Not registering ‘typo’ domains

Some people pick domains that are not easy to spell. If you have a domain name that can easily be misspelled, consider registering those domain names as well. A common trick amongst unscrupulous domain speculators is to register ‘typo’ domains for popular websites and fill them with advertising to catch the high amount of traffic that hits one wrong key.

For example, one commonly misspelled word is ‘restaurant’. If a domain name contains this word – and many do - it is advisable to register the most likely typo versions as well, rather than risk losing all those site visitors.

So that's some of the big stuff. What about the smaller stuff?


Limiting Your Business’s Scope

When creating your domain name, you want to use keywords that associate your business with your industry, but if you go too specific, you edge yourself right out of potential growth opportunities. Go with the most general industry keywords possible while still targeting your niche, so you have room to grow.

Believing your domain name has to match your business name

Okay, Tesla doesn’t own the domain name Tesla.com. Do you think someone wanting to buy a Tesla car just gives up if they go there and don't see cars? No! They type “Tesla cars” into a search engine. They find the site and most don’t even notice what the domain name is TeslaMotors.com. If Tesla doesn’t have to have an exact match domain name, neither do you.

Getting creative with the name

By far the biggest mistake people make when choosing a domain. The problem with having a name like Naymz, Takkle, Flickr, or Speesees is that you will forever have to say it in order to spell it, because it isn’t spelled how people hear it.

With the world of mobile searching and apps like Siri and other voice recognition software do not understand names that are not spelled naturally. And if you have to spell your name letter by letter for people, you are wasting everyone’s time and apologizing for it, over and over again. Don't get trendy with your domain.

Your name is not güd.

Your name should be approachable and intuitive to pronounce in your brand’s country of origin. Don’t rely on punctuation marks or letters in different colors to aid in pronunciation. Your name will not appear in color in the press releases or in search-engine results. Also people get really annoyed trying to find accent marks and umlauts on their keyboard.

You try to invent a name.

If you invent a new “word” for your name, be careful. Mashing two words together or mixing up a bunch of letters to form a new word rarely appears or sounds smooth. Be cautious of using trendy suffixes to make up a new word. Sprayology, Teaosophy and Perfumania quickly became train wrecks. Again, don't get trendy with your domain.

And, we can go still deeper into domain name mistakes.


Using obscure domain extensions to spell your name.

It's tempting to get cute and use a country code such as .me for Montenegro, .it for Italy, .us for United States, and .io for Indian Ocean Territory, to complete your name. However these names are tru.ly troubleso.me. Without visual identity these become hard to remember, spell, and pronounce. How do you pronounce Copio.us? Is it “Copio dot U-S” or “Copious?” Equally troublesome is that the human eye is trained to stop when it reads a period. So a name like Copio.us causes people to stop reading (for all the wrong reasons). Then think about all the people who will go to copious.com versus your site copio.us.

Going too niche and trying to sound like another business.

Don't outgrow your name. What if the Amazon founders had named their site Bookstore.com? Pretty much limited to just books, and maybe a few book related items.

One company that outgrew itself is Burlington Coat Factory. They just didn't think far enough into the future. When they expanded their product offering, they had to change their tagline to, “We’re more than just coats.” Then to make matters worse they also have to have a legal disclaimer in their ads that says, “Not affiliated with Burlington Industries.” That really stinks.

Trying to be mysterious.

A sure-fire way to annoy people is to choose a name that’s completely random, seemingly meaningless, and has nothing to do with your business. One I wonder about a lot is Vungle. I have no idea what this company does, and I don't want to know. It sounds like some obscure disease.

"I'm sorry, but I have bad news. You're dying of vungle."

So can you guess what the companies Qdoba, Magoosh, Iggli, Kiip, Zippil, or Zumper do? Do you really even care since the names don't tell us anything. This is why you don't try to invent names or go trendy with your domain.

Keep your domain names simple and you will see success.
You can thank me later.

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WaltzingGaby Premium
Very useful article John, thanks! I would love to know your opinion (and from anyone else) about giving your personal name or your pseudonym to your domain. Assuming that this name has both an easy spelling and pronunciation. The advantage is obvious, your site can grow forever in any direction. And I know some very well-known and successful websites with a personal-name-domain, which is in fact just the personal name of the author and not a trademark. Do you think there are disadvantages to this, nevertheless? Maybe in terms of SEO? But as far as I understand it's the title, description and tags what counts for SEO and not the domain? I'm just learning the most basic ropes and want to consider everything before making the most important decisions and the domain name is certainly one of the most important ones. Thank You!
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TommyK Premium
Thanks John, that makes complete sense and clears up the questions I had about domains.
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john1955 Premium
I think I have chosen a wrong domain name. Please advise. I set up Johnnycashparttimejob And not all I pull up is Johnny site .Johnny Cash is my real name but not knowing what I am doing I feel certain that I have shot myself in the foot. Please give me the advise that I need.
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LindaBurke Premium
I need some advice. I am thinking of babyboomerfitnessfocus. It is available. There is already another site in existence called boomerfitness. Would mine be better if I leave off the word baby and go with boomerfitnessfocus? Both of my ideas are available at namecheap. Just to clarify, all of the above are .com sites, of course.
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otomatis100 Premium
if both related to your niche, i will choose the shorter one.
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OralC Premium
Babyboomer also refer to a particular generation and could give the wrong impression about your target niche. The shorter the domain the better.
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LCJohn Premium
I would go with the shorter "boomer fitness" domain. I would also suggest hyphenation so it indexes better in the search engines. Yes, it does become strange to type. But, people click a link and unless this is going on a shirt or business card I would take better indexing and key word ranking over an irregular character.
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LindaBurke Premium
That particular generation is my target niche. I am still worried that it is too general and therefore saturated or hard to rank well. Do you think boomerfitnessfocus makes it clear that this site will be about boomer fitness? Would it be better to target ladies over 50? I just want a site that will rank well if I follow the well-laid-out instructions per WA. When I google these terms there are 64 million for ladlies and 946 thousand for boomers. While WA keywords shows them to be a good choice. I remain a bit confused about all that.
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otomatis100 Premium
that is a good idea, it is more specific to target ladies over 50, my suggestion for this domain name is womenfitnessover50
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OralC Premium
You could try fitnessforfifties.com
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6string Premium
I was wanting the the domain name http://www.boostyourmetabolism.com, but its up for auction starting at $10,000. I had no idea that people would buy domain names then sell them for a bigger price, probably not a bad idea, but $10,000 is way too steep
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OralC Premium
Yes there are some persons who purchase domains and park them so they can be sold later to persons who may want the domain badly enough to pay what they are asking for.
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Lmadams Premium
Great info ...thanks
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LCJohn Premium
Glad to see it helped Lma. Best wishes.
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GWaldron Premium
Good info LC.
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LCJohn Premium
Thank you. Hope it helps.
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ATzortzis Premium
I think that these tips are logical and I hope that direct me right.thx man for this effort ,I was stuck in the domain choosing
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LCJohn Premium
Best of luck to you on getting that domain. It can take a while, but when done right it does pay off.
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DoubleTap Premium
Excellent information!
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LCJohn Premium
Thank you.
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LCJohn Premium
Good to see that it helps out.
Let's keep those domains clean so we can get the business we need.
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SKretsch Premium
Great blog about domain names. Thanks.
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adaba063 Premium
some great thought about domain names,
thanks for sharing!
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