How to build a domain portfolio strategy

Aug 12, 2020  - written by  in Domain names

A domain name strategy helps you make decisions on which domain names to buy next and which ones not to. It also helps you make decisions about how you will manage your domain portfolio.

Here’s how you can build the right strategy for your domain portfolio.

Defensive or promotional?

Let’s start by breaking domain portfolio strategies down into two broad categories: defensive strategies and promotional strategies.

The “defense” part of a defensive type strategy is that it’s used broadly to protect your intellectual property. You buy domains defensively so that someone else doesn’t buy them and use them to deceive others, to impersonate you, or to otherwise encroach on your virtual territory.

A promotional type of strategy is one where you’re buying domain names, essentially to expand your digital footprint. This could be for explicitly marketing related reasons, or it could be in conjunction with the expansion of new product lines, new branches, and other growth in your business.

Building a defensive domain registration strategy

If you’re building a defensive registration strategy, you’ll want to consider some defensive registration tactics that will help to maximize the effectiveness of your defense.

1. Registering domains in new gTLDs

A TLD is a top-level domain, it’s the “ending” of your domain name. For example, the most popular TLD is .com.

A gTLD is a generic TLD, .com being a great example of that as well. Since 2013, new TLDs have been getting added. Many of them are considered “generic” and are open to anyone to register.

That means if you have registered yourcompany.com, every time a new generic TLD is released, yourcomany.tld is available to be registered.

A key tactic in a defensive domain portfolio strategy, then, is registering yourcompany.tld in every new TLD before someone else does.

Of course, that doesn’t just apply to your company name, but could apply to any brand name you have a trademark claim to.

Trademark Clearinghouse and blocking services

That’s where a couple of important services come in—the Trademark Clearinghouse or TMCH, and blocking services. These are invaluable tools for implementing this tactic.

TMCH lets you register domains in the Sunrise phase [ link ] of a TLD release. The Sunrise phase is a period of time before anyone else can register domain names in a new TLD during which trademark holders can register the domain names corresponding to their trademark.

In order to do so, your trademark needs to be registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse or TMCH.

The other key service here is blocking services. Some registries have recognized the fact that many defensive registrations don’t really make use of the domain names themselves and so offer a service to simply deny registration of a domain name corresponding to a particular trademark. These are more cost effective than registering domains defensively, especially since the Sunrise phase tends to be many times more expensive than general registration.

2. Registering ccTLDs

A ccTLD is a country code TLD. These are the TLDs, like .fr, .uk, .ca, etc. that are used to signify a particular country.

Some of these have few requirements for registration and are essentially as open as a generic TLD. Others have more restrictive requirements.

In either case, regardless of whether you actually do business in the corresponding country, defensively registering domains in ccTLDs can help protect your intellectual property.

It’s a good idea to start with the ccTLDs that have the least special registration requirements and are the cheapest, and work your way from there.

3. Registering targets for potential abuse

Another defensive registration tactic is registering targets of potential abuse.

This involves registering domains similar but not identical to ones you own, such as:

  • Typo domains and misspellings
  • The singular or plural version of your domain
  • Internationalized domain names (domains that use other languages’ characters to look like English characters and trick web users)
  • Company slogans or product lines

4. Brand Monitoring

A critical tactic in a defensive domain portfolio registration strategy is brand monitoring.

Monitoring means detecting registrations that use your brand name, whether they’re ccTLDs, or generic TLDs, including variations. This helps you dispute registrations that infringe on your rights.

Building a promotional domain registration strategy

The specific tactics you use to build a promotional domain registration strategy will depend on your promotional objectives. Here are some examples of promotional registration tactics that you might use to build your registration strategy.

1. Register domains to drive traffic to your main domain

With this tactic, the aim is to funnel traffic to a single, main website for your company. Other domains in your portfolio are always subservient to your single domain name and can even provide novel sources of traffic.

For example, part of this tactic might include forwarding other domains to your main domain name.

2. Register domains for multiple verticals

A somewhat contrasting tactic is to register domains for multiple niches, like geographic area for example, or product lines. This involves more investment in developing websites for each of the domains as this tactic involves being able to do well in searches in multiple geographic areas or on multiple keywords on separate websites.

Requiring a similar amount of investment in building up quality websites that will be indexed accurately, you can register multiple domains to create clear marketing messages that target specific types of sales prospects.

3. Register domains for specific marketing campaigns

Similarly, if you’re running a particular marketing campaign to target a specific demographic, introducing a new product, or expanding in a new market, you might want to register new domain names for these campaigns.

This might include creating “microsites”. These are sites that are limited to a few pages that serve a specific campaign, say, for example, a holiday like Halloween or Black Friday.

Whether your domain portfolio strategy is more defensive or more promotional, or some combination of the two, you can choose or combine any of these tactics to build it.

Don’t neglect having a strategy, though. It’s a crucial part of managing a domain portfolio and can even help you make decisions about whether it’s time to let a domain in your portfolio expire.

Either way, when it comes time to manage your domain portfolio, remember that Gandi Corporate is here to help.