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Monthly Archives: November 2008

What’s in a name? Choosing a good domain name.

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In the beginning it was relatively easy to acquire the domain name you wanted. Then the web grew and the profiteers got savvy as to the potential of ‘investing’ in 100’s – 1000’s of domain names to resell at profit. Now it’s increasingly difficult to find a short .com domain name that isn’t just sitting there, parked by one of those profiteers waiting for the right person, who just can’t live without the name, to come along and spend big bucks for it.

That said, how do you go about choosing a domain name that will identify your business, be search engine friendly and simple for visitors to remember?

In a perfect world you would know that choosing the domain name should come first in the line up of creating an on line business so that you can then create the site around the name.

Some thoughts on domain names:

1. Ideally they should be short. You can use up to 67 characters, but keep in mind you want the name to be easy to remember.  A domain name of the coolestwidgeteverinventedbyman.com is less likely to be remembered than coolwidget.com .

2. Make it easy to type and to convey to others. Sites with hyphens often end up sending business to the competition because:                                              

              Hyphens are hard to remember
              Hyphenated addresses can be difficult to type correctly
              Hyphens are hard to verbally communicate to others

 Imagine trying to give someone your website address over the phone.  It’s http://www.coolwidget-invention.com and suppose that someone else owns http://www.coolwidgetinvention.com.  The hyphen is likely to be overlooked or forgotten and the customer ends up at the http://www.coolwidgetinvention.com site.

3. As mentioned earlier, a short .com domain name is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Should you opt for a .net or a .org or one of the other extensions? Maybe, but keep in mind that viewers are very .com oriented and are much more apt to type in that extension if they are going from memory. Suppose a viewer types http://www.coolwidget in the browser … the .com can also make a difference in search engine results ( SERPS ) as the search engines will first look for matches in the .com extensions and again you could be sending business to your competition.

4. Using your business name for the site address seems like it should be the first choice, but maybe not!  Does the business name reflect the product(s) you sell?  http://www.johnandsons.com isn’t going to tell a potential client that you sell widgets.  Using your key phrase in your domain name can help both viewers as well as the search engines. The exception to this would be a business that only offers localized services and is at least fairly well-known by the business name.

5. If both the .com and .net extensions are available you might want to consider buying both. Your first domain name is included in the cost of the Homestead package. We generally purchase secondary domain names through GoDaddy, but there are dozens of domain registrars out there. If you purchase a domain name from an outside registrar be sure to point it to your Homestead account. Some registrars who also offer website hosting will put up a so-called placeholder page with advertising benefiting them until such time as the domain is pointed elsewhere or an actual site is built.

When selecting a domain name keep in mind that this will be the address you will be giving to people on the phone, in email, on business cards, etc. so make it as short, easy to spell/type and as memorable as you can. Try to avoid helping your competition by simply adding a hyphen or a 2 or some other character simply to get the main portion of the domain name.