We’ve all been there, you have a great idea for an online business, or you’re trying to get your brick and mortar business online, but the .com domain is either taken, parked on by a domain squatter, or for sale at an outrageous cost. Commonly this forces businesses to default with a domain that simply isn’t optimal, either it uses shorthand, slang, or it adds additional words bringing the domain to an amount of characters that can be difficult to brand or hurt SEO.
This is where we’re going to learn about “domain hacking” no, it’s not when someone steals your domain. It’s a creative and relatively uncommon way to choose your domain, so it has a few drawbacks, but the online branding potential can be worth the risk.
There are a plethora of top level domains other than .com available from different countries around the world, and by using their suffix you can spell out whole words, or put together simple sentences. For instance the domain blo.gs makes use of the top level domain .gs (South Georgia) to spell “blogs,” canv.as used .as (American Samoa) to spell out “canvas,” and goo.gl uses .gl (Greenland) to spell out “google.” These websites have overcome early difficulty in informing users how to use domain name hacks to find their sites, and have been able to continue with strong branding.
Now for the bad news – a staggering amount of users will want to continue to add .com to the end of their web addresses out of habit. Without advertising and a clear message people can misunderstand the domain, making your site inaccessible to some users. In the future, as .com becomes so saturated that new businesses find difficulty branding their domain, this technique may become the norm. But until then, get the .com if you can as it will be easier for users, support stronger SEO, and have greater weight to resell.