Starting With a Non-.com Domain? Buy the .com When You CanPosted: February 9, 2012
Domain extensions have been one of the more active topics of discussion lately. Between .co, .xxx and the new TLDs coming, many are wondering if it’s still the best plan to start with a .com.
Some recent successful businesses on extensions other than .com may make it seem like success is just as possible on other extensions. However, many of these businesses make their decision to use a non-.com with a later plan – to buy the .com when they can.
Some examples of popular businesses that later bought their .com once they could afford to are Box.net, Blip.tv, Instagr.am (getting Instagram.com) and Del.icio.us (getting Delicious.com).
Reasons why you should buy the .com of your non-.com eventually
1. To get the traffic that is leaking to it
If you start on a non-.com domain, you’ll leak traffic to the .com. The larger you get, the more traffic you leak, the more potential customers you could be getting if you had the .com.
The problem is that the .com owner will undoubtedly see that traffic increase on their domain and will likely charge more for it. It’s best to get the .com as soon as you can to keep from paying a ridiculous price for the domain.
2. A .com signifies a more serious, authoritative brand
When you consider that nearly all of the largest brands online are on a .com, it’s easy to see how .com could convey a certain level of authority. Even if you are seeing success on your non-.com, getting the .com could help you reach the next level more easily.
3. You can remove the extension from your brand
More often than not, if you say a brand name for an online company, it’s assumed they are located at the matching .com. If they aren’t, then you would typically say their domain extension as well. In fact, if you’re on a non-.com, it’s wise to make sure your extension is included in your brand to help keep traffic from going to the .com assuming you’ll be there.
Blip.tv is an example such that once they got their latest $12 million round of investment, they got the .com. One of the reasons they got it was so they could comfortably rebrand from Blip.tv to simply Blip. They will actually keep their site on Blip.tv, but presumably if they move beyond simply being about video, they will base themselves off the .com and make good use of the general “Blip” vs. the video-targeted “Blip.tv”.
Note that in the case of generic domains (i.e. Cars.com for a car site), it may still be wise to keep the extension in the brand to avoid confusion. That said, it gives you all the more reason to get the .com so that the extension that ties to your brand is the best extension.
4. It may improve your SEO on higher competition keywords
Google may indicate that all gTLDs are on equal footing, but as we’ve said before, there are underlying reasons why certain extensions simply don’t rank as well as others. It can come down to domain age, how it’s viewed in the eyes of visitors (higher bounce rate hurts rankings) and a number of other factors.
Having and using the .com may help prevent any SEO disadvantages your current extension or domain is giving you. As long as you 301-redirect your current domain to the .com once you’ve bought the .com and set your site up on it, none of your linkbuilding or SEO efforts thus far will have gone to waste.
We do always say it’s best to get a .com for your company, but there are alternative extensions that can work fine initially if you get a high enough quality domain. That said, your long term plan should include buying the .com for your brand as soon as you can.