In today’s e-commerce environment, your domain name, your brand name and the name of your business are all essentially the same. Therefore, it is incredibly crucial to choose the right domain name because it will determine your business’s entire future. If you choose the wrong domain, potential customers will never find you online – and that means your company is dead in the water before it even gets started. In other words, making a hasty decision when selecting a domain name is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make as an online entrepreneur.
So, how can you be certain that the domain name you select is one that can help to propel your business to long-term success? Although there are certainly valid reasons for choosing a non-traditional domain name, the vast majority of businesses will experience the best possible outcome by following a few simple rules. In this guide, we’ll explain those rules – and we’ll also describe a few of the situations in which it might be worthwhile to break the rules.
Here’s how to choose the right domain name for your business.
Think of As Many Candidates as You Can
Before we begin providing specific advice about how to choose a domain name for your business, we’ll begin with two general tips that apply regardless of what domain name you ultimately select. The first of those tips is that you should have several candidates in mind before you go to a domain registrar to see if your proposed domains are available. The reason is because it’s highly likely that some of the candidates will be registered already. The .com, .net and .org versions of almost all single English words, for instance, are already registered – so it’s wise to have several ideas in mind if you want to avoid disappointment.
Be Prepared to Register an Available Candidate Immediately
The second general tip to keep in mind when you register your domain name is that when you go to a domain registrar to see whether your proposed domains are available, you should be prepared to register an available domain immediately if you really want it. That’s partially because, if the idea is a good one, you wouldn’t want someone else to register it.
The second reason why you should register a domain immediately, though, is because of domain name front running. When you check to see if a domain name is available, the registrar is allowed to hold the domain for a five-day period and will probably display advertisements on it during that time. If the advertisements are profitable, the registrar may keep the domain and attempt to resell it for a higher price.
Choose a Domain Name That’s Short and Memorable
One of the most important aspects of all great domain names is that they’re very short. Think of the domain names that you visit on a daily basis, such as google.com, yelp.com, apple.com or espn.com – you can type all of them with just a few keystrokes. Short domains are ideal because people are more likely to remember them after they’ve seen or heard them.
For a local business, having a short domain name is particularly important because you might want to advertise your business on local radio stations. If you do, it’s vital that people will remember your domain name and know how to spell it after hearing the name just once.
Another reason why domain name length is important because people often tend to view extremely long domain names as spammy and untrustworthy. If you have a domain name idea that contains more than a maximum of about three keywords, it’s probably too long.
Consider Putting Keywords in Your Domain Name
When it comes to selecting a domain name, one potential option is to name your business after the product or service you’re offering. For example, when people search for a local business, they often search for the name of their city followed by the type of business they want to find. You can take advantage of that by choosing a domain name matching the search phrase that people might use if they wanted to find a business like yours. Domain names like richmondplumber.com, grandrapidstaxi.com or sanjoseattorney.com, for example, might be very effective for generating traffic.
If you offer products or services online and not just in one city, you can also put keywords in your domain name by naming your business after the thing you sell. If your company sells baseball card sleeves, for instance, a domain name like baseballcardsleeves.com makes the purpose of your website very obvious to potential visitors.
On the other hand, it’s also possible to slip a keyword into a more creative domain name. The domain jointhevapelife.ie, for instance, is unique and memorable while still including the keyword “vape.” Naming your business after what you sell can be great for search engine optimization, but it doesn’t make for very strong branding. You’ll have an easier time establishing brand recognition if you can find a way to slip a keyword into a more creative domain name, as in the case of this example.
Evaluate the Pros and Cons of a Domain Name that Isn’t a Real Word
Speaking of creative domain names, it’s worthwhile to mention that some of the most memorable domains aren’t real words at all. The world’s most visited website – google.com – is the perfect example of that. Google was founded at a time when most English words could still be registered as domain names, but the company’s founders elected to invent a word instead. If it works, using an invented word as your domain name is a good way to establish a very powerful brand. Before doing it, though, you should spend some time considering whether this technique is appropriate for your business. In general, tech companies are usually most likely to use invented words as their domain names.
Buy an Existing Domain Name with Great Caution
Let’s suppose that you’ve come up with a list of potential domain names. You’ve checked with a domain registrar, though, and you’ve found that all of your ideas are already registered. However, it turns out that one of the domains has a “For Sale” page on it. For a few thousand dollars, you could buy the domain. Is it worthwhile to buy an existing domain name? The short answer to this question is “maybe.”
If you’re going to buy a domain name that’s already registered, you should expect to go through a difficult negotiation process. Domain name speculators generally make most of their money on just a handful of big sales per year, and they’re prepared to sit on domains for as long as it takes until someone is willing to meet their price.
Before you buy a domain name that’s already registered, it’s important to know its history. You can use the Internet Archive, for instance, to find out whether the domain has ever been used for shady purposes before. It’s also worthwhile to use an SEO tool to see if the domain has any existing inbound links. If anything about the domain name appears spammy, you shouldn’t buy it at any price.
Register All Important Variations of Your Domain Name
If you’ve come up with a perfect domain name for your business – and it’s available to register – you’re in luck and should definitely register it immediately. However, you shouldn’t stop there because the .com extension is only one extension under which someone could register that domain name. There’s also .net, .org, .info, international extensions and a whole lot more. If your business becomes successful, you’d be very unhappy if someone else registered the same domain name as yours with a different extension. When you register your business’s domain name, you should also register as many possible variations of that domain as you can afford. That’ll help to prevent someone from grabbing one of them in the future.
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