There’s a reason why we invented spell check, auto correct and voice dictation: most of us are bad spellers. This is a big problem for those of us with websites because one wrong letter in a domain name can be the difference between someone learning more about you vs. a Styx tribute band.
To compensate for these typos and misspellings, many website owners will register as many variations of their domain name as possible and then redirect these domains to their primary one. For example, Google has also registered gogle.com and googl.com, which both forward visitors to the domain you meant to type, google.com.
Though a domain name isn’t usually all that expensive to acquire, costs can quickly add up the more you add to your portfolio. There are hundreds of ways to misspell a word or phrase, so is it truly worth it to buy every possible variation of your domain name that you can think of? Here are some things you’ll want to consider first:
Are the alternate domains available?
Before you spend too much time mulling over whether you should buy more domain names, first search to see if they are even available. Anyone who’s ever searched for a domain name has inevitably tried to search for something that was already taken, so there’s a chance that you might not even have to have this debate to begin with.
If a misspelling of your domain name is already taken, you can always make an offer to its owner to see if he or she is willing to sell it to you; however, this will put things into perspective and help you figure out if it is worth the expense.
What’s your budget?
If your website is for your personal blog or your freelance business, then the expense of buying a lot of domain names can quickly add up. If you’re spending around $15 per domain name, buying ten more can be a significant expense that many people do not want to take on.
On the other hand, for a business that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on salaries, advertising and a myriad of other expenses, a few dozen domain names is inexpensive in the grand scheme of things. If the cost of extra domain names isn’t something that you even need to think about then you might as well play it safe and register the misspelled domain names.
What are people searching for?
You can use Google Analytics to see what search queries people are using to get to your website. In your account, head over to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries. From here, you’ll be able to see which queries have brought people to your site.
For example, going through our own Google Analytics account, I discovered that some people landed on our site after accidentally typing ‘hoover webmail’ instead of ‘hover webmail’. This is understandable since we are just one letter off from the name of the vacuum manufacturer Hoover. Since it’s a trademarked name there isn’t much we can do about that, but had that not been the case it probably would have been worth it to try to get that domain name.
I’d recommend considering two key factors: number of clicks and number of queries. If a query brings a substantial number of clicks then that’s a clear indicator that that query is driving traffic to your site. Similarly, if there are a dozen queries that all use the same misspelling, chances are that a lot of people are misspelling it in the address bar as well. In this case, it’s probably worth the investment to buy the corresponding domain name.
Ask people to spell your domain name
You might think that your domain name is easy to spell but that doesn’t mean that everyone else does. The most straightforward way to see how easy your domain is to type out is to just ask people to spell it.
Your website’s visitors will likely consist of diverse groups of people from all across the world, so try asking anyone you’re able to — your parents, siblings, coworkers, friends, waiter, cab driver… If people are consistently spelling your name wrong in the same way then that’s a good candidate for a misspelling of your domain name to register.
What about top-level domains?
To make things even more complicated, there are hundreds of top-level domains like to end your website with as well. Even if you’re happy with the way your domain name is spelled and think there’s no way anyone will ever get it wrong, should you go out and register your name in these other TLDs?
This is quite a tall order, even if budget isn’t a concern of yours. With so many TLDs available and even more released nearly every week, it can be next to impossible to get your name with every single one. This is why your best option here is to get strategic.
If your website is location-based, then you’ll want to consider country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). A retail store based in Canada, for example, will probably register the .CA version of their domain as well in order to be more relevant for its customers, as well as to capture visitors who try that domain extension before .COM.
There are also generic top-level domains (gTLDs) to consider as well. Domain extensions consist of everything from .CEO to .WEDDING to .NINJA, so registering all of them probably doesn’t make much sense. Instead, take a look at which ones are most relevant to your website and try those. A photographer would likely want to register .PHOTOS, .PHOTOGRAPHY, .GALLERY, for instance.
Ultimately, having alternate spellings of your domain name is great for your site’s visitors, since they have a better chance of arriving at their intended website in case they have clumsy fingers when typing your domain name. The question is, is this convenience worth the cost to you?
It’s impossible to register every possible spelling of your domain name along with every domain extension, so a more practical solution is to be strategic. Try to identify common ways that people misspell your name and purchase domain names when common misspellings are found. Once you’ve purchased additional domain names, check your traffic in Google Analytics to see how many people have been forwarded to your main site by the misspelled domains. That way you’ll know whether the investment is worth renewing moving forward.
If you’ve decided that buying variations of your domain is the way to go, see if they’re available from Hover below: