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My employer has several dozen domains that were registered by a previous marketing team, who felt they needed to register every possible variant/misspelling they could think of. The vast majority of them simply redirect to our main domain, which has now been in use for ten years (long enough to be well-established).

I am of the opinion that it isn't worth the investment to keep renewing all these domains – but I'm reluctant to let them go, because I'm sure squatters will buy up many of them and add them to their abysmal ad networks, and perhaps impact the SEO for our real domain. (Fortunately a lot of them don't use our current brand name, but many do.)

How should we decide which ones to keep? Is there a way to use Google Analytics (which I'm less familiar with than I'd like) or other tools to see which, if any, are actually being visited and might have any value, to us or anyone else? (I have searched each one in Google (e.g. site:blahblah.com) and 90% of them have not been indexed since they have never been linked anywhere nor hosted any content.)

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  • Multiple companies, specifically tailoring the "corporate/brand" markets and their needs around domains, do exactly those kind of things with a mix of tools and human consulting to pare down portfolios in a meaningful way. Also, if you control those names/websites currently, you should be able to get statistics on their use, every webserver can be configured to log things and this is enough, no need of third parties. Same way, some companies providing redirect services can give you statistics. Aug 6 at 19:08
  • How are those redirecting domains hosted? The easiest way to see stats for them is to look at the server logs, but they have to hosted somewhere you can see stats. Aug 6 at 19:31
  • Google Analytics can't record redirects directly. You can't install the GA snippet on a redirect because JavaScript never runs during the redirect process. The best you could do is reconfigure those redirects to append marketing campaign parameters to the final URL. Whether or not such configuration is possible depends on where the redirects are hosted. So again, how are these redirects set up? Aug 6 at 19:33
  • @StephenOstermiller - or record the redirects server side. Redirects do show up in standard log files, and people running the web server should be able to pull this information.
    – davidgo
    Aug 6 at 19:52
  • Thanks all! Indeed, currently the registrar forwards traffic to the real domain, so I'll set them up to point to our webserver and get some data from the logs. I'll edit the post to mention this, but I've also tried searching each domain in Google (e.g. site:blahblah.com) and 90% of them are not indexed since we have never used them.
    – Luke M
    Aug 6 at 21:43
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It depends on how the redirect is being done. If you use some redirection service provided by the registrar, than the information is lost in transit. Visitors are redirected before they arrive to the "main" site.

What you can do: host the domains yourself alongside the "useful" ones, set up DNS properly and start collecting some traffic stats. Then you'll be able to segregate stats per domain.

If for example you have typos that get some traffic you might want to decide to to keep them. You might also decide to keep the confusingly similar ones, or those that you might type in accidentally by inverting two letters. Also consider the names that sound similar when pronounced aloud (radio test).

As an exercise/entertainment: ask each member of your staff to type the corporate domain name in Notepad, at a sustained rate, without paying much attention. Say two dozen times.

Record the results. Filter out the mistyped domains and determine if any are found in your lists. This is not a scientific test of course. The sampling has to be large enough so that it can make sense but you can try.

If you let some domains drop, that will be noticed indeed at least if we are talking about extensions like .com where droplists are public. If your corporation has a high profile, or you have had issues with cybersquatting in the past it may be wise to do nothing and renew those non-productive domains forever, and simply write it off as the cost of doing business. Filing UDRPs and litigation is not cheap and it's not even productive - merely defending your brand.

You are right that these names are not investments. But not owning them could cost you more. It's of course pointless and stupid but better safe than sorry right.

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  • "If you use some redirection service provided by the registrar, than the information is lost in transit." Not always true. Any good provider of redirections, registrar or not, can provide statistics on them. Aug 6 at 21:46

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