Securing Your Brand With Domain Names and Social Handles

In this episode, Sue and Jesse tackle a listener question about buying domain names! Your business’s domain name is an important part of your digital presence. With that in mind, should you also be worried about domain names close to yours? Should you pursue names similar to your own business for SEO or other purposes? Sue and Jesse tackle this issue which is common to many business owners.

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What you’ll learn

  • Where your domain name fits into your overall SEO scheme.
  • When to buy domain names, and when to avoid the expense.
  • If it’s worthwhile to grab handles on social domains for your business as well.

Transcript For Should I Buy Up Domain Names That Are Similar to Mine to Help My SEO? – 119;

Caleb Baumgartner: Welcome to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I am producer Caleb Baumgartner, and in this episode, Sue and Jesse answer a listener question about owning multiple domain names, “Is it beneficial to your business to own multiple domains? When should you make the purchase and when should you avoid the expense?” Jesse and Sue tackle these questions and more in this insightful episode.

Got a question for the crew? Visit us at and fire it our way. Thanks for listening and enjoy the show.

Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan, here with Sue Ginsburg. No Bob today, Sue, just you and I, but I think we can cover some questions here, no problem still. It looks like you’re hanging out in Seattle this evening, right around dusk there.

Sue Ginsburg: That’s right. Dusk in Seattle or Sleepless in Seattle, right?

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Sue Ginsburg: That is right. And the reason why I am in virtual Seattle is that the question that we are talking about today most recently has come from our wonderful Dazzle Cleaning client in Seattle. It also came up from a very sharp entrepreneur in North Carolina. Couldn’t find a good background on that. And it’s one that I think most business owners think about, comes across their computer, their desk, whatever, every once in a while, because it’s something that we all deal with once you get a domain name. And that question is, “Should I buy domain names that are similar to mine so no one else buys them?” And I think the question comes to us in the context of SEO and also just broader, is this good digital strategy? So that’s what we’ll be talking about today.

Quote of the day to go along with that from Jeff Bezos. Is there a person on the planet who doesn’t know who Jeff Bezos is? If you are, congratulations. “We change our tools and then our tools change us.”

Jesse Dolan: Oh, okay.

Sue Ginsburg: And I thought that that was very appropriate because any of us talked to somebody 20 years ago, 30 years ago, I don’t know how many, they would be wondering, “What are you talking about, and why are we even having this discussion?” I think that there are a number of services that research and send out emails about our domain name and those that are similar. Same thing with web hosts, email hosts, et cetera, and it’s hard to tell which ones are real and which ones are legit and valid for us to pay attention to, and which are spam and going to lead us down a rabbit hole. I mean, I know my own experience. A number of years ago, I had so much security on my computer until I one day took a look and said, “I think I’m paying for three different services to do the same thing. What a waste of money.”

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Sue Ginsburg: So, what we’ll be talking about today, hopefully, will help all businesses understand how you want to deal with these requests or even just as it crosses your mind, “Oh, that’s really similar to our name. Should we buy that? Should we hold that? Should we use it?” And again, I think this is one of those things where a business owner has a million things to think about. This may or may not always be on their mind. I hope it’s not always on their mind, but it’s a good question, and one that is very relevant in the digital world today.

So with that, let’s ask you Jesse, as the expert, see what you have to say. And then all of us will learn something and know if we should ignore that email, or look at it and see what’s available and pursue any other names similar to ours, SEO or other purposes.

Jesse Dolan: Yup. Well, I think you’re right, first off. This is a question that does come up a lot, especially if we’re working with a client or maybe even having a conversation at a wedding with a business owner or whatever. You start talking about digital marketing and websites, and people that have experience in buying domain names or paying the bill for domain names that their company owes, just start thinking about domain names in general. And yeah, this question in these different contexts always comes up. Should I get this domain name? Should I get that domain name? All these different reasons.

And you know, five, six, seven years ago, yeah, you could get a domain name,, put some content out there, and you’re probably going to start to rank for lawn mowing. So I think a lot of it is rooted in over the last 10, 20 years, like you said, with your quote. We change as technology changes as our tools change. People that have been in business for a while, we’re kind of used to that concept of, I should get a website and this website is going to be focused on a certain niche or things like that, and my domain name has to be related to it.

Unfortunately for us in SEO, because it was easier before, but unfortunately now that’s not as relevant for your SEO or your overall direction of your business. And what is more relevant to your overall entity of your brand. We’ve talked many times on the show, Sue, about Google My Business, about being engaged in social, getting reviews, your local citations, and just all these things to kind of build up your EAT, your E-A-T. Those are the kinds of things you need to really do to get good SEO and good rankings nowadays, not just go buy a domain name.

So, one kind of misnomer I wanted to spell off your question is, if you’re out there thinking that, “I’ve got this great website, great brand, everything else. I should buy another dot-com to launch this, to launch that.” If those things are related to your current business, then I would not do that. If you’re a auto repair business and you want to buy,,, that’s all fine and great. If you really want to launch websites that are focused on those just one specific things, okay, then that can be a business strategy, but instead, you can get ranked for all those different services within your current dot-com. You don’t need a bunch of different websites to attack a bunch of different keywords.

And in fact, nowadays it’s actually tougher to get rankings in that way if you’re a local business. Google wants to see your name, address, phone number consistent. You want to be linking to your domain from all of your properties, your Yelp, your Facebook, your Google My Business. You want all those pointing back to your domain. Now, if you’ve got seven different domains, one for each niche of what you do, it’s kind of impossible to bring that relevancy from your Google My Business to seven different websites and things like that, so you really want to focus everything back to one dot-com.

In addition to that is, if you had all those different websites and you thought that was a good business plan, you got to remember, you got to develop content for all those. Now, just having that domain name by itself is not SEO. That’s just a good domain name. So, kind of wrapping up that part of it, don’t buy domain names that are like yours or related to your business as a specific marketing strategy, because there’s just a lot more to it.

Now, one area where I would say it makes sense to buy domain names is just to hold them. Again, if you got whatever,, maybe you want to buy or, right? Or other variations, just so that a competitor doesn’t grab them and have a similar business as yours. If you really want to put a moat around on your brand and around your business, if there are domain names that are available that are similar to yours, maybe they’re typos of yours, just somehow related to your name, if you want to protect your name and own your name and make sure nobody infringes on that, then I would go ahead and grab as many domains as your budget calls for, right?

If you were to do this, and when I say domains being available, if you go to,, any place that you think of when you think about where do I buy my website, or where have you purchased your current website domain name, you go there and type in a domain name. If it’s available, as in nobody else is currently owning it, it’ll tell you and it’ll show available. You’re usually going to pay maybe 10 to 20 bucks per year to own a domain name. So again, depending on your budget, if you’ve got five names that are similar to yours that you want to buy, and it’s a hundred bucks a year or 50 bucks a year, go for it. That’s a pretty small investment, really, for your business at large.

Now, another reason we’ve helped clients get a second domain name is maybe your domain name that you’re sitting on right now that you’re using for your business, that’s on your business cards and everything else, is huge and complicated. If you’re finding yourself having to spell your website to everybody whenever you say it, or even worse, if it’s attached to your email address, if you’re like, “Jesse@,” and you have to spell it out? This is where we’ve worked with clients on getting a second domain name just for email use, right?

You could have, let’s just say, be your website. Actually, let’s make it even worse. If it was, right, was the name of our agency website, that might be good for SEO having a bunch of keywords in there, but it’s horrible to communicate to somebody if they just want to email you. So instead, we’d be like, “Hey, go ahead and keep that as your primary domain, but go buy and have that be what you use.” So if you’re telling me what’s my email address, I just say Now, that’s actually a bad example too, because spelling Intrycks is kind of hard, so using bad example here.

But the concept there is, if you have a long, complicated domain name and you’re spelling it all the time for people, is there a short version you could use just for email? And then you can work with your IT person, or within your hosting, to kind of have that still work so anytime somebody sends you an email at either one, you still get it. There’s ways to make sure there’s redundancy there, but we find that to be effective, and another reason why you might buy a second domain, or third or fourth domain names.

And then the last one would be for a specific campaign. Maybe you have a radio ad you’re going to do, or a TV ad or something in a newspaper or a billboard. If you want a certain dot-com just for memory and to resonate with people so they can recall it later, or if it’s somehow related to that specific ad or campaign you’re doing, that’s cool. Do that too, and you can have, again, I can have that redirect to my So you can point that anywhere. It doesn’t even have to be its own website. It’s just a dot-com that you can use for people’s memory, kind of like having a phone number with numbers that repeat, 555 at the end, or whatever. We just remember them easier as humans.

So just kind of in summary, I’d say, don’t buy multiple domain names as an SEO strategy and tactic. Focus on your primary brand you’re building and just go to town on that. If you want to buy domain names to protect your brands and make sure nobody can buy a domain name that’s similar to yours, go ahead. And if you want to buy a domain name to either help with your email address or other kind of campaign reasons, but not build them out in their own websites and do SEO on them, that can be also another great strategy. And those can all fit depending on what your business needs are. At the end of the day, you can also just say, “I’m not worried about it. I’m not going to buy any domains for doing any of those things,” and you’re going to be just fine.

I guess there is one more thing to touch on. Some people will also think that they buy these domain names and they’re going to flip them and make a ton of money. It’s pretty rare nowadays. Any domain name that’s out there has probably been available for years and years and years now, unless you, somehow, were sitting on before it was a thing, it’s pretty rare that you’re going to somehow get this unicorn domain name that’s going to be worth $200,000 next year because somebody really, really wants it and you bought it for 20 bucks. If you’ve been sitting on it for 20 years, yeah, sure. Somebody bought before Coca-Cola bought it, right? There’s stories like that. That’s all done. Those mines have been mined, so that’s not really a good strategy.

And then I will warn you that again, you’re going to be paying 10, 20 bucks a year for all these domain names. If you go out there … I’ve bumped into a lot of people that own 10, 20, 30 domain names because they just had ideas before, and now you’re five, six years later paying 10, 20 bucks a pop every year. Take a look at that. See if those are doing anything for you. Those probably aren’t worth any more money today than they were when you bought them, and if you’re not going to do anything with them, you might just want to cut them loose.

Yeah, hopefully that helps. Just some insights that we’ve picked up along the way, talking with scores of clients over the years, and kind of where we fall in on it. So unless something changes with Google, I would say that’s probably pretty future-proof too.

Sue Ginsburg: If you remember, was it last week we had a very similar conversation with the client who is using her own name as her … She bought the domain name, and what we talked about is if she chooses to be sending a newsletter in the future, maybe she can use that from that. So, people see that email address come in and they know, oh, that’s the newsletter. They recognize it for what’s coming in on it. Just like you said, use it for …

Jesse Dolan: Yup. It’s just very campaign-specific intent, right? Not for an overall SEO campaign or brand reach, but yeah, for a very particular reason.

Sue Ginsburg: Jesse, related to this question, is this a smart strategy for securing social sites, whether that’s defensively … And I guess what I mean there is, okay, you have a domain name. Maybe you just launched a website with the new domain name or not, and you plan someday on doing social. Do you want to go out there and secure that social site, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever it is, just to-

Jesse Dolan: Yes. I’d say yes.

Sue Ginsburg: Same thing applies?

Jesse Dolan: Because that is kind of like the dot-com opportunity when websites first came up, right? That’s fresh real estate. I would for sure do a land grab. If you’re not … Maybe you’re not on Twitter. Go grab the Twitter handle for your company at least, or your brand, A, so nobody else can and become the unauthorized voice of your brand, right? Unbeknownst to the public, Coca-Cola on Twitter isn’t Coca-Cola. Holy crap. They didn’t know that. I mean, that’s not true. That’s a dumb example I just gave there. But if you don’t go grab your brand, the more prominent you get, other people are going to do it, either to maybe pass some kind of negative intent, maybe to hold you hostage, to sell you that Twitter handle next year when you really need it? So yeah, most of those platforms you’re talking about, Sue, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, what have you, are free, so there’s not really any cost here. It’s just a matter of going out to set up the account and to secure it.

Now I would say in the same way, don’t go grab seven or eight of them, variations of your name. That might start to be a big waste of time. But for sure if your business name or your primary flagship product, whatever, any of those that you can, I’d go grab them. And then tomorrow, the next TikTok that comes up, whatever it is, hey, don’t be afraid. Even if you’re not going to use it, you don’t have a strategy what to do, you might as well go get it because now there’s a new land grab on a new app or a new platform. And all those usernames or profile names or profiles are going to be available, and it’s just a matter of time before everybody moves in. So, good question. Good add-on.

Sue Ginsburg: Really good question. Okay. Anything else on that, Jesse?

Jesse Dolan: I don’t think so. I think that’s pretty good.

Sue Ginsburg: Then I will say, if you remember one thing and one thing only, you do not have to buy domain names similar to yours for SEO purposes.

Jesse Dolan: Correct.

Sue Ginsburg: Having a domain name also means, remember, you need to create a website, and you can get ranked for your keywords and services by organic SEO without having that keyword domain name, is what I would say. And you do not want to have several websites. One website for your business is more than enough to get you out there and to monitor, maintain, and have you thrive. So, great question. For SEO purposes, no. Jesse, you mentioned some of the other purposes somebody may want to. Just know that you’re doing it for other reasons and not SEO.

Jesse Dolan: I was just saying that too, Sue. I think one slight little quirk I do want to add, where people have asked, “Maybe I’ll buy this second domain name and if I just redirect it to my other one. Again, I own Minnesota Auto Repair and I want to buy Minnesota Transmission Repair. If I buy Minnesota Transmission Repair and just redirect it to Minnesota Auto Repair, won’t that help me for Minnesota transmission searches?” And the answer is “No.”

People think just because you buy a second domain and own it and point it to your other domain, right, that some of that’s going to help SEO, like that’s going to get you a back link, right? Or maybe it’s going to draw some kind of relevancy. And the answer is “No.” You would have to have that be its own website, like you said, and publish it and have content, and then you can link them together and do some SEO stuff. But that’s just a completely different process. And in no way, just by owning multiple domains and just kind of pointing them and doing that stuff, in no way does that help your SEO one bit. It’s just a waste of your time and a waste of your money. All right.

Sue Ginsburg: I think Jeff Bezos, whether you love him or hate him, we all agree that he’s a smart guy to have done what he’s done. His quote, again, “We change our tools and then our tools change us.” Like I said, 10, 20-plus years ago, people would’ve looked at you as if you were crazy if you were even talking about this.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah. Absolutely. Some people do still today, even, which is not good for them. So if that helps some of you out for some similar questions you had, or if you’ve been wondering some of this, if there’s something in your mind that you’d like us to answer and talk about, go out to, scroll down to the bottom, click the button for Submit A Question and you can send us a message. Type it in there. Or you can call the phone number to leave us a voicemail. If you do call and leave a voicemail, we’re going to send you off a T-shirt for jumping on the show. And of course we’ll play that for all of your friends and family to hear your voice on this podcast.

Sue Ginsburg: With the two seconds of fame right there.

Jesse Dolan: Yes, absolutely. And you can play it over and over and over and over, as many times as you want. That’s the beauty part. It’s not live. All right.

But no, if you’ve got a question or a topic, we’d love to talk about it, and this whole thing is just to help everybody out, right? So if we help you, we’re going to help everybody else in the audience here, the listeners. And feel free to chime in and let us know. We’ve had a lot of great questions so far. So I appreciate that, Sue. Thanks for the question and the topic today. We’ll catch you on the next one. Take care, everybody.

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