List of misspellingsYou’ve settled on a domain name. You know it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your website, so you’ve done your research.

Your chosen name describes what your site is about. It’s snappy, memorable and – most importantly – is available.

After registering the domain, you might might want to consider picking up some common variations on it too. This will make it easier for people to find your site, and minimises the chance of anyone else trading on your name (we’ve written about typo-squatters in the past).

Many guides to choosing a domain name say something like ‘register common variations on your name’ and leave it at that. But which common variants are worth forking out for and which will just be a waste of money? Read on to find out.

To help you identify which other domains might be a good buy, consider the following:

  • Different domain extensions. If you’ve registered a domain ending in .co.uk, grab the corresponding .com address (if it’s available). This will help you pick up the odd visitor who guesses your domain extension incorrectly, and guards against people holding your brand hostage. Don’t forget the other extensions too.
  • Pick off the obvious alternative spellings. You’ve bought thereyougo.co.uk – perhaps theyreyougo.co.uk and theiryougo.co.uk would be a good investment.
  • Letters and numbers. Think about how your domain will sound when it’s spoken. If you tell people ‘you can find us at twentyfoursevensupport.co.uk’, are they more likely to type in ’247support.co.uk’? If so, register these domains as well.
  • Think American and British English. Depending which side of the Atlantic you’re on, different words get spelt in different ways. But often people in the UK will use the American spelling, and vice-versa. Look at combinations like ‘maximise’ and ‘maximize’ or ‘color’ and ‘colour’. Of course, this is far more important if your site has an international audience. For suggestions, you can try this reasonable British to American English conversion tool.
  • Common mistypes. We’ve all done it – missed out a letter or hit the wrong key when entering a domain name. People will inevitably mistype yours too, and end up in all sorts of weird places.

Mistypes are a hard thing to guard against. Where do you draw the line when deciding which mistyped domains to fork out for? You could end up registering thousands of the things but not seeing any benefit.

Well, I’ve come up with two ways to narrow things down. First of all, if you have it on your computer, fire up Microsoft Word (bear with me and you’ll see where this is going). Word includes a big long list of the most commonly mistyped words.

To pull this up, go to the Tools menu and hit AutoCorrect options. You’ll see a list of words – scroll through to see if any of the words in your domain are there. If so, seriously consider registering these common misspellings.

Secondly, there are various online tools which will generate a list of typos for you. A good example is this one from SEO Tools. For the word ‘hosting’, it suggests the following typos (among others):

  • hostnig
  • hositng
  • nosting

If you enter words used in your domain, you’ll probably end up with a huge list of mistypes. You need to narrow this down, so you focus on the most common.

How? Working on the assumption that people mistype the same things into search engines as they do when entering website addresses, we can use a keyword research tool like Keyword Discovery. This tracks the things people enter into search engines (like Google).

For instance, using Keyword Discovery, I can get the following information for misspellings of ‘hosting’:

  • Number of searches containing ‘nosting’: 6
  • Number of searches containing ‘hostnig’: 13
  • Number of searches containing ‘hositng’: 67

This suggests that ‘hositng’ is the most common misspelling of ‘hosting’. So if my domain name contained the word ‘hosting’, I might also want to register the variation containing ‘hositng’.

Where to stop?

It’s really up to you where you draw the line when looking at variations on your domain name. Although occasionally you’ll find one which generates significant traffic, you’re more likely to see a slow-but-steady trickle of visitors from all the domains you own.

Still, the numbers will add up, and it’s not just about capturing a larger audience for your site; if you do it right, registering extra domains will also safeguard your brand and discourage typo-squatters from encroaching on your space.

Perhaps the best approach is to start slowly. Spend some time researching variations and mistypes. Pick up the key domains; ones which seem most important, or which are really obvious misspellings.

Then keep an eye on your site statistics (use something like Google Analytics) to see what effect the new domains have on your site.

Good luck – and use the comments to let us know how you get on.

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