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Choosing A Domain Name

Filed under Buying Domains

When choosing a domain name for your business, it can be difficult to know what your first consideration should be. Should you give priority to finding a name that will help you rank high in the search engines? Or should you be more concerned with a name that describes your business?

One thing you should probably not do, unless you are very famous – i.e. a household name – is use your exact company name as a domain name. It can be tempting to do this, as you can be sure it will be easily available. However, if you are just beginning to establish a web presence, people won’t be looking for you as they won’t know about you. They will be looking for the service you provide. So you need a domain name that will help them find you easily.

The other thing you absolutely must not do when choosing a domain name is deliberately use a name that is similar to that of a famous competitor. For instance, suppose you are a financial adviser, and there is a very well-known bank called Parker Finance. You might be tempted to choose a domain name like ParkaFinance.com, in the hope that people looking for the famous bank might arrive at your site if they made a typing mistake, as often happens. However, you would find that the big companies are on the look-out for this practice and would have no hesitation in taking action against you.

So your main decision in choosing a domain name is: should you use a highly-searched keyword or phrase, to help your search-engine ranking? Or should you use a name which characterises your business as accurately as possible? Opinions differ. Some say using a keyword or phrase is a good idea. For instance, if you are a financial services provider, and you found that a highly-searched keyword was “leading financial services” you could choose a domain name like “leading-financial-services.co.uk” (if it was available). Others advise against it as the search engines keep changing their criteria, and recommend that you find a name that represents your business, such as FinanceForYou.com

What is important is that your domain name should be clear, memorable and as short as possible. You are very unlikely to get a one-word name as most of those have been snapped up long ago. But avoid hyphens if you can, and also letters mixed with numbers e.g. Finance4You or Finance4U. Remember that you or your staff will often have to tell people your web address over the phone, so the simpler you can make it, the easier it will be for people to find your site.

The other main question is, what top-level domain (TLD) to use – that is, the suffix at the end of the domain, e.g. .com, .co.uk, .net, .org etc. Most people advise going for .com if you can, as that has the most prestige. The .net suffix is also a good one. The .co.uk suffix is fine if you are a UK company, but you should probably still go for .com if you can. A lot of new ones have recently become available, such as .biz, .info. These are less prestigious, but cheaper if you are short of cash. However, if cash is not a problem it can be a good idea to buy up as many as possible of the other TLDs on your domain to prevent other people using them. If your site is called FinanceForYou.co.uk, and someone else sets one up called FinanceForYou.net, it can cause endless confusion.

Finally, bear in mind that even if you arrive at the most perfect domain name, you can’t have it if someone else has already registered it. When you go to your domain hosting site to type in your choice of domain, they will tell you if someone else has already taken it. They will then provide a list of suggestions for similar domains that are available. Remember – keep it clear, memorable and easy to spell, and you won’t go too far wrong.

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