How to Pick The Perfect Domain Name For Your Business
Increasingly we get asked the question how to choose the perfect domain name for your business, organization or association? The answer is both a simple and complex.
The problem is that inventory is limited. Many of the names have already been taken, or that is what it seems like. And there are a lot of companies and individuals that own a number of domain names, and in fact, it is a huge business on its own accord: to own, buy and sell domain names.
I have struggled with this myself and have made a few mistakes in naming companies and businesses. Here is my advice on how to approach naming your website.
1. Don’t Sweat It If Your Company Name is Not Available As a Domain Name.
Because chances are good that it isn’t. Many people make the mistake of thinking that their domain name has to be exactly the same as their business name. This is far from the truth. You can choose a domain name that describes what you do or how you do it. For example, if your company name is Milton Springs, and the www.miltonsprings domain name is already taken, try an alternate descriptor, such as www.miltonprecisionsprings or www.miltonindustrialsprings. Sometimes it’s more appropriate to actually be more specific in your naming. In this case, if there was a water spring in Milton, web searchers may get confused or never find you.
2. Choose The Correct Extension.
There are many of us who remember when “dot com” was the only option as a domain extension. Now there are lots of alternatives available. .BIZ, .ORG, .ACADEMY all the way to .ZONE, to name just a few. I am still a fan of the plain old .com domain. It is simply the most popular of the extensions. If your business is only going to be limited to a specific country, or is a local business choosing a Top Level Domain, then a TLD such as .ca domain might be perfect (Canada). But it is always a good idea to purchase a back up domain, and “shelve” it. Keep this second web domain name in inventory, so that you can use it in the future if there is a problem with ownership or your company expands outside of the country.
If you want the list of domain resources check them out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_top-level_domains
2. Make Your Web Name Memorable.
Keeping a domain name memorable, means making it simple. Avoid hyphens, numbers and other punctuation at all costs. Keep your URL clean, concise and simple if possible. My niece and her husband operate a cool company that in the beginning was called interactive-voices.com. In their business they connect voice talents and actors to potential clients. As they grew their business and took over the market, they purchased the domain voices.com. Easy to spell, remember and, whew, no hyphens.
3. Make it Easy to Spell.
This is not a place to get cute. Many people like to use unique spellings or the letter x, or numbers in their web name. This seems creative and can solve a problem of securing a web domain name. But what seems clever will actually cause a bigger problem: the attraction challenge. You can’t attract customers that won’t be able to find you if they search your business name. Here is an example: A company named Business Express is bizxpress.com or bizexpress.com? Not only is it confusing for your potential prospects but you could push your visitor to a web competitor.
5. Keep it Short.
This is just a simple, common sense principle. Shorter is better when it comes to your website address. It is easier for users to type. Easier to remember. It also makes it better for email addresses. If you have a long website name, and a long name yourself, your email could be email@example.com. No one wants to type this out and it looks silly on a business card.
6. Put a Keyword in The Domain Name.
This one is a bit of a debate. Certainly if you are a brand like Imgur Imgur.com – The Simple Image Sharing Website, it doesn’t make a difference at all. You have won. You own own your own Internet brand and your identity is well known. But for most companies, I like the idea of putting a keyword in a domain name, as long as it stays short and is appropriate. I was involved with branding a company that used to have the web name: atsauto.com. Later they moved the web name to atsautomation.com, away from auto which could be confused with automotive. Since they design and make automation systems, it made a lot of sense and helps in SEO; Search Engine Optimization.
7. Competitive Search Environment
Spend some time searching for competitor’s brand names, product names and key words and phrases, to gain an understanding of how people search and find products and services like yours. How are the search engines responding to a “typical” search in your market? This information gives you a focused understanding of your customer’s mindset and what the search engine is serving up for those searches.
Some tools to help you on your journey of finding the perfect web name:
Waybackmachine.com. With this site you can find out what content the web site had before you owned it.
The Whois lookup query tool is located at http://whois.icann.org. It will help to find out who currently owns a specific web name, and if this information is public. But many companies and people prefer to be “private” and will have the information hidden and secured by a web registration company called a registrar.
Searching for domain names is best done through a registrar website and there are a lot to choose from: Bluehost, Dreamhost, 1&1, Godaddy, Namecheap are just a few of the registrars. But it is best to do your own research. People seem to either love or hate their domain registrar. Be wary; just as in the online travel industry, where the more you search for a flight or room and the price mysteriously increases, similarly with these registrars, the more that you search a web name, the more valuable it may mysteriously become.
When dealing with web registration companies, watch out for the up-sell, in an industry with low-cost, high volume domain registrations, these companies rely on upselling to increase revenue and profits.
Have we remembered everything? If you have any other suggestions, please comment below. If you are interested in learning more about any of the suggestions in this blog, send me an email.
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