Well, that depends, doesn’t it! It wouldn’t be a blog entry if there was a single word answer to the question.
What is a top level domain name?
Examples of top-level domains are argos.co.uk, argos.com etc. There used to be a handful of top level domains, in addition to country specific ones. These are .co.uk in the United Kingdom, the United States should technically be .co.us but that’s another story. They decided that theirs is .com and they’re sticking to it. Now though, there’s a whole raft of new top level domain names, everything from .car, info to .pet or .cat.
The end result is that you’ve got the potential to spend more than ever just buying domain names for your company. But do you need them?
It would surprise nobody to learn that huge multi-national companies like to own all variations to protect their branding. It could prove embarrassing if somebody put up a contradictory website on a similar top-level domain to fool people or badmouth the company.
For this sort of reason, a larger company may want to buy some of the oddball top level domains to avoid trouble further down the line.
So do I need to buy lots of variations then?
The answer is different if you’re a small local cake shop, do you need to buy 20 different variations of your domain name? Unless you’ve got a really good specific reason, no. There’s no advantage to doing this unless you’ve got a different use case in mind for specific domain names (maybe an email marketing campaign landing page?).
We wary when you log into your domain admin panel and see that it’s only £5 to buy the .info version of your domain, ask yourself if you actually need it. Generally, your site will sit on one domain, if you buy additional ones they’ll just forward to the main one.
I personally once encountered a company that had an annual renewal fee of circa £4,000 for their domain names alone, that’s a recurring cost which could certainly have been better spent.
Circling back to the original question about if you should buy a load of domain variations or top level domains, ask yourself what you want to do with them or why you need them. If you’re not sure, the answer is probably no.