Purchasing a Domain Name
What’s in a name? In the Digital Age, choosing the right domain name means everything. The wrong selection can result in a lack of website traffic and, more importantly, the loss of potential customers.
There is no formula for picking the perfect domain name, but it’s a necessary first step in claiming your piece of the Web. A number of factors influence the ultimate success of your site, but here are a few naming tips:
- Keep your domain name simple. A domain should be easy to spell or pronounce, and have a limited number of characters. Making it short, though, does not mean you should use abbreviations, which often are difficult for people to remember.
- Pick a domain that contains keywords relevant to your business. Most search engines rank websites much higher if the search terms are contained in the domain name.
- Research appropriate keywords to determine which are most popular among people searching for your product or service online.
- Adding your city name to your domain can help improve search engine results and help you stand out from a variety of companies offering similar products or services in other areas. Think of how many "Mama’s Pizza" places there are, and you’ll see the value of using "mamaspizzacleveland.com" instead.
- Just like the name of a business, make sure your domain name is a name you can brand. This might mean selecting the same name for your company and domain. If the name of your business doesn’t reveal what it does or sells, go with something else.
- Don’t feel you have to restrict yourself to one name. You can register several domain names related to what you offer and point them all to your primary site. By purchasing several relevant domain names you will also keep the competition from taking advantage of your brand by association.
- Plan ahead. Obtain domain names for products and services you plan to offer in the future. Since registering a domain name can cost as little as $10 a year, it’s a good idea to reserve names in advance.
- Try not to pick a name that can be confused with another domain. You don’t want to send your customers inadvertently to the competition.
- If the name you pick is not available, try adding a prefix such as: a, the, my, your or our to your preferred domain. Most Web hosting companies will suggest a number of alternatives if your first choice isn’t available.
- Avoid hyphens. More than likely, people will forget them. And it’s more difficult to tell someone your website address if you have to say, "www dot my landscaping dash business dot com."
Consider Your Extension
Another important part of your name is the extension that appears after the domain name (such as .com). Known as a top-level domain, these extensions provide suggestions about the type of site and its content.
Some of the leading top-level domains include:
- .com stands for "commercial." It’s the preferred domain extension for businesses. Because of this, the number of available .com domain names is decreasing.
- .net represents "network." It is most commonly employed by Internet service providers, Web hosting companies and other Internet-related businesses, but its use is no longer restricted.
- .org, which stands for "organization," often is used for non-commercial sites, such as non-profit organizations, but many companies register .com and .org domains to ensure the security of their brand.
- .biz is a restricted-use domain extension for business websites.
- .info, .me, .co, .tv are growing in popularity.
- .us is a restricted-use country code (most countries have their own extensions). It can only be used by individuals, businesses, organizations, etc., that reside in the United States or its territories.
A variety of new top-level domains is being introduced to expand the overall pool of available Web addresses as well as the number of domains in languages other than English.
For example, new choices include .jobs (for employment-related sites); .mobi (for mobile-optimized sites); .tel (for the telecom industry); .travel and potentially hundreds of others.
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