Every business needs a website, and every website needs a domain name. But often businesses make mistakes when selecting their domain name. Here are six domain name mistakes that you should avoid.
Using a .com when targeting the NZ market
If you are a local business, with a local or nationwide target market, you should not have a “.com” domain name. The reason is simple: Having a “.com” domain communicates “international business”. While that may sound exciting, when people want a local business a “.com” communicates “Not based in NZ”.
For example, if you are looking for a plumber, and saw two domains – mooreplumbing.co.nz and mooreplumbing.com – the immediate assumption is that the first one is based in NZ and the second is based somewhere overseas. Which one would you click on?
If you’re a local business that has an international target market, then .com makes sense. But if your customers are all local, then a domain ending in “.nz” makes a lot more sense.
There are 10,300 new .nz domain names registered per month
Only owning .co.nz and not .nz
The most common domain name ending for businesses in NZ is “.co.nz”. However, back in September 2014 the Domain Name Commission of New Zealand released “.nz” domain names, meaning you could drop the “.co” part.
For example, my company is Duoplus, and our domain name was “Duoplus.co.nz”. But with that change in 2014 I was able to register “www.duoplus.nz”. So you no longer need to have “.co.nz” or “.org.nz” at the end of domain names.
It’s nice to have the shorter option, however it also creates a problem: If you don’t buy the “.nz” version of your domain, then it is available for anyone to purchase! This could be a competitor, or a hacker pretending to be from your company, or another company somewhere in New Zealand that likes the name.
So if you own a “.co.nz” or “.org.nz” domain, then for the sake of your brand, it is a mistake to let someone else own the “.nz” version.
Or the opposite: Only owning .nz and not .co.nz
On the flip side, since “.nz” is the modern domain name option, some companies think that only registering the “.nz” domain is fine.
The problem with this approach is that “.co.nz” is still far more frequently used. This means that when people know your company, if they type your domain name directly into their browser, or into an email they intend to send you, they’re probably going to type “.co.nz” at the end. If a different company owns the “.co.nz”, they’ll receive your website traffic or emails. Or if no one owns it, your potential visitor will be left confused.
I personally prefer to use “.nz” domain names, as they are shorter and more modern. But whenever you buy a domain name I always recommend buying both “.co.nz” and “.nz”.
Not buying simple misspellings of your domain name
If your domain name has the potential to be misspelt, do your customers a favour and buy the mispellings of your domain name. This prevents what is known as “typosquatting” or “URL hijacking”.
At a convenience level, it means your customers can more easily end up on your website. At a competitor level, it stops competitors from purchasing the domain and redirecting potential traffic to their own site. At a security level, it could stop your customers from getting scammed.
One famous example is the site Goggle.com – an address people accidentally type sometimes when wanting to use Google. A number of years ago the site attempted to install a fake security program on visitors’ computers, one that was filled with malware.
If misspellings of your domain have been registered by other people, in some circumstances there are legal avenues that can be taken to reclaim the domain, but it is a lot more economical to just pay for an extra domain name from the start.
Making it too complicated
If your domain name isn’t easily remembered by your customers, it’s probably too complicated. When you are hunting for a domain name, it’s often frustrating that the names you want are already taken. This can lead to creative thinking … and when it comes to domain names, not all creative thinking is helpful!
One client we work with had expanded from NZ to add branches in Australia, however their equivalent “.com.au” domain name was already taken. So since they couldn’t have “xyz.com.au” they had selected “xyzaust.com.au”. It looked strange and wasn’t natural for customers to remember.
Failing to buy the domain that matches a key product name
The final mistake I see occasionally is failing to buy an available domain name that directly matches a key product or brand your company sells. Often companies will develop products and given them a brand that is different from the company name. If there is a strong marketing focus on that product brand name, then it makes sense to purchase the “.co.nz”, “.nz” and potentially “.com” domain names for that brand. If you’re going to invest in building product brand awareness, then make sure you own the domain name.
The nice thing about each of these domain name mistakes, is that they’re easily avoidable. It just takes a little planning and intentionality.