How important is it to secure domain name variants


A recent disagreement between partners in a recent start-up was on how many variants of domain names should be registered early on.

My view was that just the main domain (.com and as we are in uk) would be enough right at the beginning as we really didn't have anything to protect yet.

Another view was that we should secure .net and variants with hyphens and variant spellings and plurals as well as singulars and all combinations of the above which would have increased the costs dramatically - probably by an order of magnitude.

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asked Oct 11 '09 at 09:18
Ronnie Barker
313 points

6 Answers


Although I agree with Julie that domain names are relatively cheap, I've never had a problem with not owning variants.

The thing is, people just don't type arbitrary URLs in the browser window. And, if your company isn't trivially small, Google/Bing/Yahoo will be smart enough to present your website as the correct match for any search-like thing people do.

Finally, at least in the USA there's trademark violation if people own your domain. So for example at Smart Bear I just got, and if anyone tried to get something else AND was using it in a way that made it look like us, I could do something about it.

But definitely get the domain before the rest of the business paperwork or someone could pinch your domain. That happened to me!

answered Oct 11 '09 at 09:51
16,231 points
  • True, we've actually been more annoyed by people finding us when they are looking for the other company because of our seo. We've had a few annoying experiences with this, from people thinking we'd made an alleged 'elf bowling' virus to a directory scam charging people's cc's ... the directory name was very similar to ours. In hindsight wish we had just reg'd "-" and .net. We don't often bother with .org, but that's a good idea too. – Julie King 15 years ago
  • The trademark stuff can get tricky if the you have a trademark in the US, but someone in another country, say the UK, uses something similar. (Assuming you've only filed for the US trademark.) Which brings up another point ... if you do have a trademark, register your domain in the same country where you registered the mark, as you don't want to have to defend a challenge against your company in the US because you registered your domain at a cheap registrar there. – Julie King 15 years ago
  • >> people just don't type arbitrary URLs in the browser window I disagree. I'd qualify that they don't do that for crappy names. But if you own great domains like: or or, then you are counting on that kind of traffic and profiting from it. – Jorgem 14 years ago
  • @jm - yes, that's my point exactly! That you should use keywords rather than company name. The name of the COMPANY behind "" is not "Toys." – Jason 14 years ago


Domain name variants should be the least of your concerns. Register the main ones (.com, .org, .net) and forget about the rest.

In the early phases of your startup, you'll be lucky if anyone understands your idea, let alone thinks it's awesome enough to squat similar domain names!

answered Oct 11 '09 at 13:00
D Thrasher
894 points


I slightly disagree with what's been said so far. Type in in the address bar and see what happens. I think if you are serious about your project, and if you want to get startup capital, at the very least spend USD 100 in domain names. As a percentage of your yearly operation cost, it's really nothing.

There are common misspellings that you can research for your particular name. You can get very creative on this research, for example, in my case, I polled all my cofounders, asking them to rapidly type the name of our startup 200 times and buying the top 5 mistakes. Or you could try for instance, or a similar tool.

Hope this helps

answered Dec 17 '09 at 13:33
441 points


It might also depend on the type of product/service your going to provide.

If it were mass-market (push strategy), I would think you'd want to have most of the variants/mis-spells as possible to make sure you capture the great majority of people looking for you.

However if your catering to a niche (and probably via a pull strategy) then they probably know you before they find you and less variants should be fine.

The other thing to remember is that too many variants can dilute your brand somewhat. You want people using the right name/spelling from day 1. If you cater to all of the ways they may mis-interpret your name, you might be stuck making sure they can always find you through those variants.

answered Oct 11 '09 at 09:52
470 points
  • If you own variants and misspellings set up http 301 redirects at your DNS. Crisis over. – Cad Bloke 11 years ago


If they are available at the time you decide on your main domain (".com" in most cases), I'd suggest getting the key variations at that time:


The extra domains will cost you < $25 a year if they're unregistered.

I would not worry too much about other arcane variations (and definitely don't worry about getting the .net/.org variations of those variations).

answered Oct 11 '09 at 10:06
Dharmesh Shah
2,865 points
  • Yep - totally agree. I know big brands that have spent tens of thousands of dollars buying ever variant to try to protect themselves, but there's always something someone can dream up that will potentially have impact - buying up domain names isn't the protection you need. – Randfish 15 years ago


Domains are cheap.

We held a view similar to yours in the early days and as a result lost an important version of our domain (hyphenated) as as well as the .net variant.

So I guess it depends on what you are willing to risk. If I could do things over - especially when the name will be central to the business - I would register the hyphenated variants as well as the main ones (.net, etc.).

answered Oct 11 '09 at 09:42
Julie King
871 points

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