For those of you who don’t know me, let me fill you in on a little secret — teal is a staple in my closet. So when I made the egregious error of not purchasing this totally rad, teal summer blouse a few days ago, I had to go back.
Lo and behold, it was gone.
It happens to all of us — buyer’s remorse. Why, fashion gods, did I not purchase it when I first laid eyes on it? I couldn’t tell you. Believe it or not, this happens all the time with something a little more important than clothing: domain names.
I’ve talked with tons of small business owners who slept on an idea only to watch it fall into their competitors’ hands. I’ve also worked with entrepreneurs who’ve outgrown their original brand and are looking for something new (don’t worry, teal — you’re not going anywhere). The point is, change happens. And when it comes to the name of your blog, small business, or online identity, it can be scary. Fortunately, that’s where domain forwarding and masking comes in.
What is domain forwarding and masking?
Let’s start with the basics. Domain forwarding is a way to redirect your visitors to a specific location on the web, even if it’s not the active name of your website. Here’s an example:
Amanda makes out-of-this-world, fluffy, chocolate croissants, so she started a business selling her baked goods. Turns out, though, she also knows how to perfectly pair her pastries with a strong brew of coffee. Originally, she’d branded her business as AmandasPastries.com, but that name doesn’t encompass her newfound barista talents. So, she purchases CroissantsAndCoffee.com.
Now, she doesn’t want to start over — as a small business owner, she already has enough on her hands. So, she sets up domain forwarding so that when her clientele types CroissantsAndCoffee.com into their search bars, they’ll be automatically redirected to AmandasPastries.com. Same site, same great treats.
Domain masking follows the same concept with one small change. If customers type CroissantsAndCoffee.com, they’ll still be forwarded to AmandasPastries.com; however, instead of seeing AmandasPastries.com in the search bar, they’ll see CroissantsAndCoffee.com.
How do I forward my domain?
Actually, forwarding a domain name is relatively easy. If your domain name is with GoDaddy and you have less than seven names in your account, it only takes a few clicks. Plus, there are painless ways to redirect your domain to other sites, like Facebook or WordPress.com.
If your domain name is registered with another registrar, that’s OK. You might want to involve customer service or find your registrar’s specific instructions, but here are some generic steps you can use:
- Locate your domain’s page within your account.
- Select the domain name you want to forward (we’ll use CroissantsAndCoffee.com).
- Find your DNS settings.
- Alter the forwarding section so CroissantsAndCoffee.com points to AmandasPastries.com.
I would highly recommend that you find your registrar’s exact, step-by-step guide for forwarding your domain. While it might be straightforward in theory, there are a lot of editable fields in your DNS settings that you don’t want to unintentionally alter.
Why should I forward or mask my domain?
As you can probably already guess, brand change is a big reason for forwarding domains. Amanda liked her site — she wasn’t looking to start over from the ground up even though her business had evolved. She wanted to expand her identity without losing her original work. Plus, she probably has a number of customers who still know her as AmandasPastries.com. No need to lose them in the process, either.
In addition to brand change, there are a number of reasons why forwarding or masking your domain is beneficial.
Yup. Happens all the time. As someone with a unique name, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve gotten Maxim instead of Maxym. If you own a business or a blog with unique or unconventional spelling, scoop up any other variation you can think of.
You can set a domain name to forward to a specific page on your website. If Amanda purchased Amandas.coffee, she could setup a forward and customers would find themselves browsing her brew-related page. Anchoring specific domain endings — like .cafe, .coffee or .menu — to individual sections of your website really can really come in handy!
Even if you already own the .com version of your domain name, it might be in your best interest to snag additional endings to protect your overall brand. The last thing you need is your competition poaching your awesome idea!
Ready to buy a domain of your own? Get out there and get started! And if you have a few in mind, just know they can all end up pointing to the same place.
featured image: Stock That Rocks