Elaine asks:

When I obtained my Domain Name of domainname.com.au from Melbourne IT when I first started back in 2014, I was ‘advised’ to secure domainname.net and domainname.com too, to prevent ‘others’ from setting up a similar website.

The .com.au is the one I use for my website and my email is [email protected]

I think now I’ve been paying quite a lot to keep two other domain names for no real good reason.

Would really appreciate advice (if possible) as to whether it would be ok to ‘ditch’ the other two, to save $s or whether the original advice about securing them is sound.

In case it’s not obvious, I’ve edited Elaine’s actual domain names for this article.

The quick answer: You don’t need more than one domain name, drop the others.

The long answer: Maybe you need them?

Here’s five reasons you might want to hold onto old, other, or extra domain names:

Legacy brands

I used to brand my business “Married By Josh”, until everyone did the same gag, so I moved to just plain old Josh Withers. But That old brand still hangs around, websites linked to me, people had my old email address “[email protected]” and clients knew me as that name. So I’ll hang on to marriedbyjosh.com for the longest time.

Search engine optimisation

A celebrant retired last year and they let a strong domain name expire, so I grabbed it and redirected it to my website. In search engine optimisation world – SEO – you buy old domain names and hold on to them for backlink powers. This answer also sits with the first, because if you have a legacy brand it’s probably been linked to.

Secure your brand name

Years ago my wife Britt and I started a business called “The Pop-Up Wedding Co.” and built a nice little business. Loads of other people thought it was a cool idea too so they bought other domain names around that brand and started their own. When we pivoted to The Elopement Collective, before I told a soul outside of my intimate friends group I bought every domain name under the sun that was linked to that name, plus we registered it as a trademark because securing that brand was important to us.

People mistype domain names

There is some wisdom in buying a .com because you also have the .com.au because honestly, sometimes people mistype things. Or they even just say the wrong thing. It’s like that news website that people always quote by saying “I saw it on news dot com”. I know for a fact you did not see anything on news.com because that’s owned by ZDNet and isn’t a functioning website. You saw the news on news.com.au but you say news.com … if that was my business and brand I’d be stressed.

Bad actors impersonate people and businesses online

People do bad things, so sometimes securing the .com of a .com.au means you reduce the number of ways people can impersonate you. I, for example have joshwithers.com.au but I don’t own the NZ version, joshwithers.co.nz, so someone could try and impersonate me by registering that domain name and some people might be tricked.

In the end you can spend your life’s savings trying to protect against these measures, but you could also not worry about any of them and live a good life a few dollars better off a year.