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You are currently at the point where you want to pick a domain name. The domain name you choose for your website is just as important as the name you choose for your business. After all, your website is the face of your business online.
But there are a lot of things to consider and it can feel overwhelming, so here are some tips to make it easier.
We’ll cover the following topics:
Domain name considerations
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on a domain name. We’ll talk about:
Some are more important than others, but take them all into consideration. Now let’s talk about each one.
At the end of the day availability is the most important because if the domain name you want isn’t available, then it doesn’t matter how good it is. The best way to increase the chances of the domain name you want being available is to get specific.
In this example, let’s say that you’re a pump repair company in the Henderson area of Texas and the name of your company is Wills Pump Repair. Let’s work our way from general to specific to try to find a good domain name.
PumpRepair.com or Pumpscom: Not a chance, way to general.
YourPump.com: Still too general, but getting there.
TexasPumpRepair.com: Better, but Texas, so it’s still too general.
EastTexasPumpRepair.com: So, the more specific we get with our domain name, the higher the chances that it is available.
We want a relevant domain name. For example, if we’re a plumber, we should try to mention plumbing or plumber somewhere in the domain name to let customers (and search engines) know what we do. This also ties in with being specific because the more specific we are, the more relevant we are as well.
The only exception to this is typically reserved for large companies with irrelevant names, but massive, well-known brands (i.e. Google, Yahoo, etc.). As small businesses, we typically don’t fall into this category.
It’s important to be memorable, especially when trying to build a local brand. Besides, if your website address isn’t memorable it make it harder for customers to recommend you by word of mouth.
As small businesses, we get much of our business through word of mouth, so we should make it as easy as possible for our customers to recommend us to others. A memorable domain name makes us easy to talk about.
So what does a memorable domain name look like?
When it comes to domain names, typically the shorter the better. Not only are they easier to remember, but they look better.
That said, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, it’s just something to consider. For example, DonsPlumbing.com is better than DonsPlumbingServices.com, but DPlmbg.com isn’t better than DonsPlumbing.com.
When choosing between two domain names of similar quality, go for the shorter one. But don’t let trying to make a domain name as short as possible overrule the other factors mentioned above.
Which domain extension should I use? .com, .net, .org, .biz, etc?
I’d stay way from all the other extensions (such as .biz, .us, .me, .info ). This is largely personal preference, but to me they seem cheap. It’s also likely that most of your customers aren’t familiar with them. As time passes they may become more acceptable.
Numbers & dashes (hyphens) in the domain name
If possible, avoid using numbers and dashes in the domain name. They’re not inherently bad, but they’re often used incorrectly, or in a way that decreases domain name quality. This often results in making your website less memorable and look less reputable.
So as a general rule I recommend staying away from dashes and numbers if possible. One popular exception is using the area code of the are you serve in the domain name as demonstrated in the Memorable section above.
Enable auto renewal on your domain name. You’d be surprised how many businesses lose their domain name because they forget to renew it.
If you go past the grace period, they will hold the domain hostage. For expired com, net, org, info, biz, us, ws, .name, .cc, .mobi, .me, or .tv domain name registrations, they hold your domain name for approximately 42 days before canceling it. Domain name renewal during this period is subject to applicable renewal and redemption fees.
Don’t pay too much
Domain names cost around $10, which the typical range between $10 and $15. Usually when you renew a domain name it will cost a little more because they already have you as a customer. Renewals will cost more than the initial purchase. As of this writing, the company we use is Godaddy.com. Godaddy will usually have discounts where you can get the domain name cheap.
Less common domain extensions like .tv, .info, .to, etc. often have different prices that are higher than the more common domain. For example, some of these can cost up to $99/year depending on the extension. If you’re considering one of these other extensions take the additional cost into consideration, especially if the initial purchase price is different from the renewal price.
A couple of dollars difference isn’t a big deal, but it’s a peeve of mine to see certain companies charge 400% of the cost for domain names. This is typical with the free website builders who lure customers in with free websites, then make up the lost revenue by significantly marking up other products that customers need after they’re locked in. To me it seems dishonest and it really bugs me, but it’s the business model they use.
When you register a domain name, the information you use (name, phone number, email, address) is publicly listed as the owner of that domain. Most domain registrars (the companies that sell domains) offer domain privacy, which blocks this information from being publicly displayed.
If you’re big on privacy, you can pay to have this information hidden, but I don’t consider it worth. Typically, as a business owner your company and contact information is already listed on your website, so it really doesn’t matter.
The only time I recommend getting domain privacy is if it’s free. For example, Name.com offers free domain privacy with a special promo code, which is another reason we use them.
Buying ‘for sale’ domains
You may find that your ‘perfect’ domain is available, but for sale in the secondary market. This is the case when the domain is available for any price above the registration fee. Some domains for sale don’t even show a price, but ask you to ‘make an offer,’ which is even more annoying.
99% of the time you should ignore domain names for sale and just find one that’s available. Unless you’re a large company and interested in building a brand, it’s not worth the time and money it’ll take to close the deal. The only exception might be if the domain is truly a perfect fit for your business and it’s at a reasonable price.
Picking a domain name is hard because it seems like all the ‘good’ domain names are taken. But since every business is unique, there plenty of relevant, specific domain names available that are a great match for your business.
All of the factors we’ve discussed should be considered when choosing your domain name. Based on your situation you may disregard some to focus on others, and that’s fine. These factors will help you make the best choice for your business from the available options.
The .com domain is the best choice for a domain name because it is the most common. If you buy a .com, also try to scoop up the .net and .org versions if they’re available and redirect them to your website on the .com.
If you can’t find an available .com, .net and .org are runners-up. They’re acceptable, but if I was using a .org or .net I’d worry about customers typing in .com by accident. It’s not a massive concern or a deal breaker, but just something to consider.
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