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How to Choose a Domain Name wisely

How to choose a domain name for a small business or blog.

I’ve been buying domain names for small business and hobby websites for 20 years or so and have learnt a few things along the way. Avoid the pitfalls and get it right the first time. There are mistakes that can cost you big time and seriously affect the viability of your business:



* Losing hits (customers) to your website by choosing a domain name that does not influence customers to click on your website in search results

* Losing time and money having to rebuild on a better domain name

* Losing links to your website if you have to change name equals dropping to the bottom of search results - remember links are an important signal to Google that they should put you at the top of the search results.

Buying a domain name can be quite daunting – especially when the website name you wanted is already taken and you have to start looking for domains that aren’t exactly what you want.

So here are some tips for registering a domain:

* Having a “keyword” (a word people search for in Google when looking for your product – a word or group of words that describe your business) in the domain name is a positive and can help with search results in Google (the effectiveness of this for getting ranked highly in the search engines has fluctuated over the years according to Google's latest search algorithm for serving search results). It seems like it helps with ranking in search results at the time of writing this - but not as much as it used to.



* Another reason to use a keyword in your domain is because when web surfers are looking at the search results they will see your website domain name and may read it to decide whether you are selling what they want to buy. E.g. If someone does a search on “buy a cheap car” and your domain name is www.cheapcars.com they instantly know you are selling what they are buying which increases the chance the will click on your website in the search results and you will sell a car. So ask yourself when your customers read your domain name do they instantly know what your business is about? If you have tonnes of money to spend on getting your brand name known or if your brand is already established this may be less important. But if you are a start-up or not well known it may be worth considering using a domain name that contains keywords such as what you are selling or your location if your actual business name does not describe the above.

* Make it something easy to remember so your repeat customers can remember your domain name and come back to purchase from you repeatedly. Hyphens are probably difficult to remember in most cases. Numbers could be made to be memorable in a domain name…or not…so use them well if you are going to use them.

* Make it easy to spell. I’ve seen some pretty wacky spelling out there on the web. If people can’t remember how to spell it you are less likely to get repeat visits to your website.

* Make your domain name short if possible, even just for your own sake. Having to type a really long website domain and therefore email address can get tiresome (have done this one – hmmm am still doing it) for you and your clients e.g. john@thelongestdomainnameintheworldever.com is a drag to type and doesn’t fit into forms very well when you are filling out paperwork. If you want to register a .com domain this may be difficult as so many have been purchased already there are so few left.



* .com domains are generally “more valuable” if you ever want to sell the domain name. Because .com domains have been around for the longest they are generally what people will automatically type in. So if you were to buy the domain www.cheapcars.net or www.cheapcars.xyz (yes you can buy .xyz now) you may want to check what kind of website is on the domain name www.cheapcars.com because many of your customers may end up on that website (which may not be important unless your business is in direct competition with the .com domain.

See the list of the 436 Domain Name Extensions available at www.TestsTestsTests.com



* Registering a domain name is not very expensive at under $10 a year so if you can you may want to buy a few versions of your domain and have them redirect (forward) to your website

e.g.
www.myfantasticwebsite.com
www.myfantasticwebsite.net
www.myfantasticwebsite.org
www.myfantasticwebsite.info

and country codes
www.myfantasticwebsite.us
www.myfantasticwebsite.ca
www.myfantasticwebsite.co.uk
www.myfantasticwebsite.com.au

or whatever country you are in. It is not good for business to have your competitors or scum bag webmasters who make websites containing advertising alone feeding on all your hard work and money spent promoting your website. If your domain name is easily mistyped you may want to purchase the typos for your domain also. In the early wild west days of the web a lot of people made a lot of money by buying mistypes of famous retailers such as www.Amazon.com and then getting a commission for sending people to the actual website. A few more laws are in place now…and these companies have wised up and have policies in place to deal with people who do this kind of thing.

Example:

If you live in the US and you manage to buy the domain name www.newyorkcoffee.com you may want to also buy www.newyorkcoffee.us and www.newyorkcoffee.net to stop a coffee shop down the road buying the same domain name and having your customers ending up at their website and possibly in their coffee shop. If the .com domain is already taken and you decide to buy the .net extension do check what the .com is being used for. And remember that could change...

* If you have a local business such as a coffee shop or something that can only be done in a local area it may be better to get a domain name with a country code (e.g. .us .ca .co.uk .com.au) to signal to web surfers that glance over your domain that you are at least in the country they are in. To get a country code domain you will actually have to be in that country. If you intend to serve a worldwide audience a domain extension that does not indicate your location may be better (e.g. .com .net .org .tv .info .co .biz .me etc).

* If you have a local business it may be worth including the name of your city in the domain name. If you are reaching an international audience this still may be attractive to an international audience in some cases – and not in others.

* If somebody else has trademarked the name in the domain that you buy it is possible they will be able through legal means take the website name from you even if you had totally good intentions when registering it. So do check if there are other people or companies using the business name. This could be really heartbreaking and financially devastating if you build your website for 5 years and then they come after the domain name. Even if you have your business name registered if someone else somewhere else has it trademarked it could lead to problems…or not.

* Remember you are building a brand and if you have to change the domain name after having it for a few years all the credit you are getting from Google for the links you have built to your website (a very time consuming and boring task) will be lost. And all the traffic that you were getting from other websites will be lost. All those customers who remember your the domain name you registered will now be lost sheep and may end up at your competitors websites. It is expensive and time consuming to move your website to a new domain. If your business is very dependant on web traffic it could send your business under if moving your website is to a new domain is not managed very well. So do put some time and thought into it - it is well worth it and will pay dividends!