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.
So you have decided to go ahead and start your own business. Let me be the first to congratulate you, but also let me be the first to warn you about jumping into choosing a name that is not a good fit for either you or the business you have chosen.
One very important thing to remember is that once you have registered your domain name and you have set up your website, started advertising and getting leads coming in…..at that stage of the game it’s already too late to make a domain name change very easily if you realize you have made a poor decision. It would mean starting all over again. So, let’s see how we can avoid that scenario.
Here are five mistakes that people often make when picking their domain:-
THE DOMAIN NAME HAS VERY LITTLE RELEVANCE TO YOUR BUSINESS. This is a very serious mistake because when prospects reach your website and you are not providing them with the information they are expecting, then they are going to quickly leave your site, never to return again. You want to choose a name that will immediately tell your prospect something about your business and what they can expect when they visit your website.
THEY DO NOT CHOOSE THEIR OWN PERSONAL NAME. If you are interested in building a reputation for yourself on the internet, then it is a very good idea to purchase your own personal name as soon as possible. You might not use it immediately, but if you do become very successful, you might find that someone else has purchased your name so that they can capitalize on your success. I have actually seen this happen with a very famous internet marketer. He was not able to get his personal name without adding a tag to it.
THEY CHOOSE DOMAINS THAT ARE CONFUSING. You want your domain name to be easily understood. If you are reciting the website address to someone over the phone, you want them to be able to write it down without you having to go over it a number of times for them. For instance, if your site was ‘help4you.com’ that could be confusing. Some people might type in ‘helpforyou.com’. It is best to stay away from using numbers that could also be words.
THEY PUT DASHES IN BETWEEN THE WORDS IN THEIR DOMAIN NAME. You want to choose a name that is easy to type. If you are like me, you find typing in website addresses with dashes to be an annoyance. You want people to be able to reach you easily and dashes just don’t cut it!
THEY DON’T CHOOSE A DOMAIN NAME WITH LASTING POWER. You need to choose a domain that will serve you for the long haul. There is no point in getting a ‘fad’ name that will lose it’s meaning in the near future. This name is going to represent you and your business so choose one that you are going to be comfortable with for many years to come.
Well, there you have it. Have fun brainstorming for your perfect domain name. If you come up with a few that you just love and that are still available, I advise you to go ahead and get them. You don’t have to do anything with them right now. Many people have been very disappointed when they returned later to purchase a particular domain name, only to find that in the meantime it had been taken. Don’t be disappointed….grab that name, if it’s a good one.
Your domain name is like a snapshot of you….make sure it depicts you in a favourable light.
Jan Shimano was District Manager for Health & Welfare Canada for many years. She was also self-employed as a Nutritional Consultant and a Master Herbalist. She is currently a Business and Health Coach and operates her own internet marketing company from her home on Vancouver Island. Jan invites you to learn more about her at http://www.WealthyHealthyLiving.com