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The perils of using a .CO domain name

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Lots of new business owners are finding that the .COM domain names they want are not available, or that they are considered "premium" domain names and are too expensive for a small business owner. Many are opting to buy .CO domain names instead. (.CO is the country code for Colombia, but the suffix is being marketed to American audiences as a close approximation of .COM). 

I don't think there's anything wrong with having a website with a .CO url. But there is a serious problem with using a .CO domain name as your email address. Don't do it! 

These days, most website are visited with a hyperlink, so the visitor does not need to know the exact url. However, email addresses are often keyed in by the sender. Many people will reflexively type .COM instead of .CO.

Recently, another small business registered a domain name that is the same as mine, but with the .CO suffix. I get a lot of emails that are meant for her. When it started, I contacted her and let her know it was happening. I forwarded her emails for a month or so. But she wasn't doing anything to solve the problem. In fact, sometimes it was clear that she signed up for a service or newsletter and typed in her own email address incorrectly. 

Eventually, I told her that this problem was her responsibility, and I would no longer forward her emails. She once again refused to change anything. I sensed that she thought I was bothering her, or being “mean.” She has missed out on some rather important sounding emails since them. I am baffled by her response. If I knew this was happening to my business emails, I would consider it an emergency that needs immediate solving.

If you want to buy a .CO domain, that's fine for your website, but not your email! Stick to a gmail address instead, or anything else that does not invite confusion. 

Edited by GEP

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I would suggest that if the .com extension is taken, .net would be a better one to try than using an extension from another country. Using another country’s extension will affect how you show up in search, which matters if you’re trying to reach a local market base, or even just one where you don’t have to ship internationally. 

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I would just figure out a unique domain name that still reflects my business instead of going for a .net or .co, to totally eliminate confusion.

.coms are only a premium price if you register it with a company that takes advantage of people.  Domains are cheap through http://domains.google and there's no need to pay a company for it.  If you register through a third party like GoDaddy or wix or whatever they own your domain name and charge you rent.  If you register it yourself, you own the domain name and can transfer it to a new company if you need to and pay much less.

If it's too technical to set up, definitely use a package service, just know you're paying extra for that service.

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If another person/entity already owns the domain name you want, you have to pay their asking price to get it, no matter how you register the name. There are domain name “squatters” out there who buy domains they don’t need, just to try to resell them for premium prices to a person/company who needs it. 

I paid a premium for learnpottery.com. I was watching it for months, trying to decide how bad I wanted it. One day, the price was cut in half, to a number that seemed like a good investment. So I grabbed it. 

In the case that I described above, I don’t think this person tried very hard, or thought things through. “goodelephantyoga.com” is available. She said “somebody” told her that lots of successful businesses use  .CO domains. But can you think of one?  

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7 minutes ago, GEP said:

If another person/entity already owns the domain name you want, you have to pay their asking price to get it, no matter how you register the name. There are domain name “squatters” out there who buy domains they don’t need, just to try to resell them for premium prices to a person/company who needs it. 

I paid a premium for learnpottery.com. I was watching it for months, trying to decide how bad I wanted it. One day, the price was cut in half, to a number that seemed like a good investment. So I grabbed it. 

In the case that I described above, I don’t think this person tried very hard, or thought things through. “goodelephantyoga.com” is available. She said “somebody” told her that lots of successful businesses use  .CO domains. But can you think of one?  

I meant that if you register goodelephant.com at GoDaddy, they will buy it on your behalf, and then automatically reregister it every two years and essentially squat on it for a while if you ever leave GoDaddy.  You don't get to take it with you (at least not for free).  

But yeah, I've never heard of a successful .co domain, or really any of the goofy new ones like .video or .school or whatever.  It just makes it harder to own and protect your brand.  Used to be you could register your .com, .net and .us and it would only cost you 45 dollars every two years, and no one would be confused typing in any of those names.  Now you'd spend 5000 a year just securing domain names hah.

That would be really annoying though, having to sort through your emails because someone decided to buy a neighboring TLD with the same name.  Sorry you have to put up with that

Edited by liambesaw

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28 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

I meant that if you register goodelephant.com at GoDaddy, they will buy it on your behalf, and then automatically reregister it every two years and essentially squat on it for a while if you ever leave GoDaddy

Oh ok, I see what you mean. But that’s not what “premium” domains are. And once I paid the asking price for learnpottery com (to an unknown third party, though I’m sure GoDaddy kept a small percentage as commission), now I only have to pay $15/year to keep it (to GoDaddy), just like the other domains I own. 

Edited by GEP

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I definitely recommend getting a ".com" website! I work for a graphic design agency and our website/emails end with ".studio" and it's always an issue. Emails bounce back from us and we've heard from a few shops we work with that the ".studio" suffix doesn't work with their billing/mailing system!

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Another problem with .co since it represents Columbia is that may spam filters are set up so that you can block emails from suspect countries that have nefarious purposes in mind such as malware. As it stands now, any email that isn't sourced in the US gets blocked...most of the time.

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Coming from almost 25 years of experience in technology, focused on web technologies, e-commerce, and business systems, I always recommend trying your hardest to get a .com domain instead of any of the other top-level-domains, unless the US is not in your target market. Everyone remembers and almost instinctively puts in .com, regardless. Even the browsers want you to use a .com. Try typing just the word "google" in the address bar and press CTRL + Enter (I think is command + enter on Mac, mine isn't near me at the moment). 

For those looking for domain names, services like https://www.domainnamesoup.com/ can be helpful. They allow you to mass lookup availability and help to create new combinations for inspiration. What we ended up doing, when renaming our business (a project still in process, so not using the name publicly yet) was to create a list of words we felt gave the emotional responses we wanted. For example, you might want to give the feeling of dependability, or solid foundation, etc. so you might start using words that feel like that: stone, core, clock, etc., but maybe you want to combine that with fresh and new, so perhaps "slate" for the stone and 'clean slate' term. 

Once we had our list of words, we gave them all scores on length, ease of pronouncing (not everyone speaks your native tongue, help them out with simple words), and how many of our values they hit. Then we used Excel to create a two-word mashup for each word combination. With that list, I was able to copy and paste all of them as a "<word-one><word-two>.com" value into the Domain Name Soup site, and find out which ones were available. With the unavailable domains filtered out, we then each gave a yes/no to each combo, and merged that with the scoring. So the shortest, easiest to pronounce, easiest to spell, most liked, and most on company values combination bubbled up to the top. 

Prior to that, it felt like throwing darts at one balloon in a pitch-black room, and we never got anywhere.

As for registrars and who owns the domain, it is true that GoDaddy will hold on to the domain for a while, even after you've let it go, but it's to try and protect against accidental expiration and domain vultures. It used to be very common for a domain to expires, and a person would swoop in to buy it up in hopes that the original owner would be at their mercy and pay handsomely for its return. They're even worse than the squatters. While I, personally, do not care for GoDaddy anymore, they're safe to register domains through. They do, however, tend to raise the annual renewal more frequently than I care for. When I migrated my domains away from GoDaddy, it was automated and completed in minutes, with no resistance or issues. ICANN does a pretty good job of keeping the chaos to a low roar. 

Hopefully, someone finds all that helpful! 

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25 minutes ago, RSWalker Art said:

Coming from almost 25 years of experience in technology, focused on web technologies, e-commerce, and business systems, I always recommend trying your hardest to get a .com domain instead of any of the other top-level-domains, unless the US is not in your target market. Everyone remembers and almost instinctively puts in .com, regardless. Even the browsers want you to use a .com. Try typing just the word "google" in the address bar and press CTRL + Enter (I think is command + enter on Mac, mine isn't near me at the moment). 

For those looking for domain names, services like https://www.domainnamesoup.com/ can be helpful. They allow you to mass lookup availability and help to create new combinations for inspiration. What we ended up doing, when renaming our business (a project still in process, so not using the name publicly yet) was to create a list of words we felt gave the emotional responses we wanted. For example, you might want to give the feeling of dependability, or solid foundation, etc. so you might start using words that feel like that: stone, core, clock, etc., but maybe you want to combine that with fresh and new, so perhaps "slate" for the stone and 'clean slate' term. 

Once we had our list of words, we gave them all scores on length, ease of pronouncing (not everyone speaks your native tongue, help them out with simple words), and how many of our values they hit. Then we used Excel to create a two-word mashup for each word combination. With that list, I was able to copy and paste all of them as a "<word-one><word-two>.com" value into the Domain Name Soup site, and find out which ones were available. With the unavailable domains filtered out, we then each gave a yes/no to each combo, and merged that with the scoring. So the shortest, easiest to pronounce, easiest to spell, most liked, and most on company values combination bubbled up to the top. 

Prior to that, it felt like throwing darts at one balloon in a pitch-black room, and we never got anywhere.

As for registrars and who owns the domain, it is true that GoDaddy will hold on to the domain for a while, even after you've let it go, but it's to try and protect against accidental expiration and domain vultures. It used to be very common for a domain to expires, and a person would swoop in to buy it up in hopes that the original owner would be at their mercy and pay handsomely for its return. They're even worse than the squatters. While I, personally, do not care for GoDaddy anymore, they're safe to register domains through. They do, however, tend to raise the annual renewal more frequently than I care for. When I migrated my domains away from GoDaddy, it was automated and completed in minutes, with no resistance or issues. ICANN does a pretty good job of keeping the chaos to a low roar. 

Hopefully, someone finds all that helpful! 

Keeep in mind this was several years ago, but I switched from GoDaddy to a vps and they wanted over 100 dollars from me to transfer domain ownership.  I didn't bother because there was only a few months left before the domain expired.  Anyway, they reregistered the domain and put it to 'auction' when it expired so I'd have to buy it back anyway.  After that experience I just don't trust places like that anymore.  The silly part is that the domain was my name, literally my full name, who else would buy that haha, I wished them luck on their "auction" and bought the .net for a few years instead.  Ugh.

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1 minute ago, liambesaw said:

Keeep in mind this was several years ago, but I switched from GoDaddy to a vps and they wanted over 100 dollars from me to transfer domain ownership.  I didn't bother because there was only a few months left before the domain expired.  Anyway, they reregistered the domain and put it to 'auction' when it expired so I'd have to buy it back anyway.  After that experience I just don't trust places like that anymore.  The silly part is that the domain was my name, literally my full name, who else would buy that haha, I wished them luck on their "auction" and bought the .net for a few years instead.  Ugh.

Ouch; sorry to hear that. The transfers that I referred to were earlier this year, so they have hopefully learned better and don't do anything like that to anyone else. Some of mine were tied to a VPS, some were not hooked up at all, and others hosted elsewhere. AWS (where I transferred to) is certainly not the cheaper solution (although my domain names all went down a few bucks a year), but for what I was doing, they offered the most comprehensive set of technologies and solutions with a modern infrastructure, but it's considerably more complex to learn and manage.  

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I have an online plant nursery and I was advised to do the following (which I did):

If you selling in a specific country get the country extension (for me: .com.au) otherwise people think I'm American. You will not sell pottery internationally.

Otherwise get.com or .net NOTHING ELSE!!! I think (but I don't know for sure) that google penalizes other extensions, so you will be found less easily. And it looks dodgy.

There are huge differences in hosting costs. I am hosting with a tiny family company and pay $14 for my .com.au address a year and the good thing is that there are actually people - he did the whole transfer from my .com to .com.au extension, very handy for someone who is not very good with these things! If you are with shopify or godaddy I would maybe still buy the domain there because it fits into their system and you don't have to fiddle around and you get support (at least with shopify).

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On 7/19/2019 at 1:45 PM, High Bridge Pottery said:

You can get some interesting domains now, I bought www.thepottery.store but I haven't worked out what to do with it yet.

Nice.  Hold onto it and use it Joel.

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I cannot recommend namecheap.com enough. They are (as the name implies) less expensive and they offer free WhoIs protection which masks your information that you use to register. 

Best practice is to register with a domain company like namecheap and then "point" your site to a hosting company. It sounds complicated but it's really quite easy, even if you don't know what you are doing. The advantage is that you can change hosting fairly easily without the added problems of transferring your domain name. 

(I do not work for namecheap, my wife is starting a pottery business and I run a digital marketing company, so I've been scouring these forums looking for advice. Thought I would share some too)

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