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I'm naming a new web app. I came up with a name that I really like. Based on Google searches, it's not being used by any existing company or product, however, the .com domain name is registered by a "premium domain name service" who are charging more than I'm willing to spend.

Can I register an alternative (.net or .io) instead and just let them keep the .com? What are the long term consequences?

  1. In terms of SEO
  2. Will I be open to negative publicity on the .com address
  3. Am I likely to lose traffic when people type example.com and see a parked website instead of my actual site
  • This doesn't answer your question, but there are now hundreds of domain extensions ranging from .academy to .zone and loads in between. If your name is unique enough and the extension is catchy, no one will ever go to .com and if they really want your product and it isn't at the .com, they will find it. – Steve Jan 18 '17 at 10:59
  • As far as SEO goes, that is covered here: In general, does the TLD matter for SEO? – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 18 '17 at 11:19
  • @StephenOstermiller That question is too general. In this case I'm "competing" with the existing .com domain. Is there an SEO impact to that? Do I have to worry that in the future someone else will buy the .com and make a competing product to mine - thus capitalizing on the reputation I've built? – just.another.programmer Jan 18 '17 at 11:22
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Parked domains typically just have adverts and this won't impact on your SEO but might frustrate some customers if they guess the .com when typing in your brand name.

If you don't own a domain name then there's always the possibility a competitor or malicious user might use it to try and harm your brand reputation or redirect potential customers away to their own website.

Perhaps one day it will be worth paying the price they ask if your app is successful (though the price may go up!). Keep an eye on it in case they choose to let it expire (unlikely). It's also worth remembering premium domain prices are open to some negotiation. The sooner you get your app monetized, the sooner you can buy the .com and stop a competitor getting it!

If you're serious about your business and protecting the name, register the trademark in your brand name so that you go after misusers of the name in a court. Registered trademarks can be an effective deterrent, and while you can't just take ownership of a prior registered domain name you may be able to stop commercial use of it especially by a competitor.

  • +1 for mentioning the value of a registered trademark. Could I theoretically use the trademark to prevent the current domain owner from developing a competing app w/ the same name? – just.another.programmer Jan 18 '17 at 18:49
  • If you can successfully acquire the trademark prior to them doing anything with the domain name then this might be possible, however make sure you register a trademark in their country to have a better chance since they are not international. It is cost prohibitive to register trademarks in all countries, but if both you and your potential competitor are in Europe then you could consider a European trademark. Web-based products/services companies often register domains in important TLDs as this is cheaper and more effective to prevent a competitor getting them, but also get your trademark(s)! – richhallstoke Jan 20 '17 at 11:48
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I'm "competing" with the existing [parked] .com domain.

Is there really so much of a difference between the domain being parked and whether it is unregistered? The user can still type the .com regardless. Neither will be indexed by search engines and both return a nonsense result to users.

So, in terms of "competing", I don't there is much of a competition. You win. (IMO)

Do I have to worry that in the future someone else will buy the .com and make a competing product to mine

Well, yes, that will always be a concern.

  1. Will I be open to negative publicity on the .com address

Not unless someone developed a competing, unsavoury or malicious site on the .com address. As mentioned above, this would be a concern.

Am I likely to lose traffic when people type example.com and see a parked website instead of my actual site

This could also happen if the .com is unregistered. I would have said this was an edge case, someone who has failed to remember the correct address.

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