How many domains should you buy?

A client is developing a major web resource. He bought what seemed the ideal domain for one year, then reconsidered and bought two more domains, again for one year each.

Now our client has asked us:

Do you think that it would be a good business decision to capture all three of these domain names in perpetuity (for all 3 it will cost about $1000 for 10 years). Or should I stick with one or two (and if so, which?).

We have been in a similar situation so often, with various projects on the go or in the mind. To protect a good idea we have sometimes been domain gluttons.

As a general rule—and every rule has exceptions*—we'd recommend a compromise.

  1. First buy the best domain for 5 or 10 years. (The ideal domain name includes keywords, is short, and easy to remember, spell, and pronounce.)
  2. Also, buy the other contenders for a year or so while you experiment and monitor results. If you find a majority of people go straight to a secondary domain, that one might be worth keeping.

In the end, the best defence against people poaching a near equivalent of your domain is the quality of your web site. People get to know which site they really want.

Also, there are always another 20 domains you think maybe you should buy. Now add the .com, .org, .info, .mobi, .biz and .asia variants, and thus the hunger can never be fully satisfied.

I am sure our client has some great technical people to work with. Who knows, his organization may even have a policy for domain names.

*Exceptions: billionaires, multinationals, domain traders, anal-retentive obsessives, and others I can't think of right now.

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