The is part one of the Key to an Effective Small Business Website series.
Choosing A Domain for an Effective Small Business Website.
A domain name is your business’s address on the internet.
You want to own it (some businesses find themselves renting the domain from a web designer at high cost). You want control of it. A good domain name may even help your business. Many businesses are even using the domain name (complete with .com) as the business name.
Choosing a domain name for your small business should be fairly easy. We just want to make sure you do it right and don’t make a mistake because your first choice is not available. This is a little bit different than choosing a domain name for a niche sit which I have also pointed written about on this blog.
I am covering choosing a domain for your business website early in this series.
The reason is because there are people out there buying domains simply with the plan of selling them at a profit sometime in the future. I do not want you to miss getting one because someone purchased it two weeks earlier just as an investment and not use. In some industries this is a possibility.
First rule – .com and only .com
Don’t take a .net because your first choice is taken in .com but still available in .net. You will only be sending more traffic to someone else. Your customers will always assume it is .com if they are trying to remember. You will also often include your domain in advertising.
Second rule – do not use the free online tools to check if domains are available
Use the tool provided by your domain registrar and only search when you are ready to purchase it. Purchase the domain immediately. There are some sites online that use these searches to find prime domains for investment like I mentioned above. I have heard of more than one case where someone has checked for a domain and found suddenly purchased when they waited a bit before purchasing.
Search for the domain using your registrar’s search. Purchase the domain as soon as you find the best one for your business. Do not wait. I get to the recommended registrars in just a bit.
Third rule – no dashes in the name
You can use more than one word. Just do not separate them with dashes. Dashes (or underscores) will make it nearly impossible to give out your domain name orally in person or on a radio advertisement.
Fourth rule – Be very aware of homonyms
2, to, two, or too? Again, you want to be able to give your domain name out easy and for it to be easy to remember.
Fifth rule – Don’t be cute
This is your business website not a personal website. Be businesslike.
I suggest one of two options for your domain name.
First, your business name.
If your business name is short, easy to spell, and memorable take it if the domain is available. If your business name is too long, uses really long words, or hard to spell, look at the second option. Think about your customer. Would it be easy for them to remember and type out?
You have a bonus if your business name will also have keywords that people would typically type if they were looking for your type of business.
The second choice would be a domain name related to your business and area of business.
chicagoplumbing.com might be preferable to thomasscirrottoplumberextraordinaire.com even if the later is your business name. Using your business name will make it easier for people that are familiar with your business to find you.
However, using a locality and business type will help you get some additional search engine ranking for a phrase people will commonly search for. Many new customers you get from your website may very well be typing in the type of business you have and the city in a search engine. Using those terms in your domain name will help you rank a bit better. In the example in the previous paragraph, someone typing in “plumber Chicago” in Google is more likely to see chicagoplumbing.com in the listing than the second example.
This is only one factor, so do not be afraid to use your business name if you want. Just keep it in mind as an excellent alternative. It would not hurt to buy both domains. If your business name is not completely unique, you should buy the domain name for it even if you use the business and city domain. In my case, there were several other businesses with a similar name in the US alone. We were lucky to have the domain name. It has value far beyond the $10 annual fee should we decide to sell it.
Choose a good domain registrar
I recommend Namecheap as a registrar. My second choice is GoDaddy.com. GoDaddy is a bit better known but checkout with them is a maze of offers for all sorts of “extra” services that you do not need, want, or are usually free or cheaper anywhere else. Do not get hosting from Go Daddy! We will talk about hosting in a later article Getting your domain at Namecheap is simple. Create an account. Search and find the domain you want. Buy it. Namecheap may include a year of “whois” protection free. This will keep you from getting additional email spam.
I have used 4 different registrars online and these are the only two I feel good about recommending.
I have had friends purchase domain names and pay $40 and not get services they needed with it. A domain with Namecheap will be about $10 for a year. You may want to consider purchasing the domain for more than one year if you think your business will be around for longer than a year (I hope you are).
If you really want to use GoDaddy use my link, I’ll get a commission. I recommend Namecheap and there is no commission or compensation for doing so. That is how much more I think Namecheap is better for you.
I think you are ready to go buy that domain name now.
We won’t get around to using it for a bit, but buy it now. Once you purchase it you will have one less thing to worry about later. Just remember the details of your domain registrar account. We’ll need to hop in later and tell them where you site is hosted. Till that time, your registrar will probably put a holding page on it.
If you have a bit of extra money, it would not hurt to purchase a spare domain. If you bought a domain with your business name maybe get the locality-business type name or the other way around. You may change your mind and there are some other uses for a second domain.
In the next post in this series, I am going to cover a subject even more important to your small business and its website than a domain name. Without it, you really do not have a reason to stay in business.