From a small-business standpoint, the importance of a domain name – or a good domain name for that matter – simply cannot be overstated.
In fact, starting a small business by establishing a strong presence on the internet is extremely important, if not crucial!
A good domain name allows you to do just that: it lets your business to establish a strong online presence, which is essential for building your business’s authority online.
For businesses, the ideal and the most obvious choice is to get the same domain name as their company name. According to Roger Collins, president of Afternic, a domain name registrar: “The best names are usually the key words of the name of the company. For example, a pool company called Mermaid Pool Inc. would want Mermaid.com or Mermaidpool.com [as their domain name].”
However what most businesses fail to do is take other domain name best-practices into account.
The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that finding the URL you want has never been harder!
Indeed, with millions of websites out there on the internet, there is an extreme dearth or shortage of good domain names. Common words and phrases have all been taken up, and chances are that the dotcom domain name you want for your business will have been snapped-up by someone else already.
According to George DeCarlo, the vice president of marketing at Dotster, a domain-name registrar: “The first preference is to find a generic domain name that is directly tied to what they want to promote. If you find a domain name like that, you should register it immediately. The number of domain name possibilities is enormous, but the number of quality domain names is shrinking.”
Fear not! Here are a few set of tips and tricks that business owners can follow in order to land the domain name of their choice, and adhere to some of the best-practices involved in doing so:
1. Get creative: If the domain-name that you wanted has already been taken up, get creative and think of an interesting domain name for your business website. For instance a good domain name for a computer retailer could be CtrlAltDel.com, or something similar. Here’s another example: if Furniture.com is taken, try BuyFurniture.com or BestFurniture.com. Although being creative does not mean choosing a domain name that sounds too similar to another (e.g. Faesbuk.com, or Microosooft.com), or something that could potentially become a legal nightmare for you later on.
2. Check alternatives: I almost always tell everyone to go for a dotcom domain name, as it should always be the first preference. If however you simply cannot find the domain name that you want with a dotcom TLD, it might be a good idea to see if alternatives (aka. boutique extensions) like .org, .net, .biz or others are available. Snap them up instantly if they are!
3. Keep it short and precise: Ideally, domain names need to be short and precise. This is good from an SEO-perspective. For intance something short like iPhoneBuySell.com is better than BuyAndSellYouriPhonesOnThisWebsite.com. Besides, short domain names are easier to type AND easier to remember as well – which is crucial if you want your business to be found on the internet.
4. Get help: Websites such as Domainr and BustAName can be quite helpful here. Domainr, for instance, lets you enter a word (such as your business name), and provides you with a list of available domain names that look and sound innovative and creative (such as del.icio.us, last.fm, and domai.nr itself!). BustAName is also a great tool which will help you find domain names; basically, it lets you enter a multiple number of words (separated by spaces), and provides you suggestions by combining the words and looking up available domain names. Give them a try!
5. Use SnapNames: …to find (and get) taken or expired domain names! SnapNames is a great little service that lets you get the domain name of your choice through auctions, buy-it-now listings and private brokerage services. With the help of SnapNames, you have a much higher chance of scoring the domain name that you want.
6. WhoIs: Another thing you can do (IF you want to take a more direct approach than SnapNames) is check the WhoIs of the domain that you want, and directly get in touch with the owner via email – provided he’s made his contact details public. WhoIs, for those of you who dont know, is a database that stores the information of people who have registered domain names for instance. Go to any WhoIs Lookup website, enter the domain name that you want, and you’ll get the information that you’re looking for.
7. Adhere to SEO best-practices: Keep the following best-practices in consideration when choosing a business domain name:
- Your business domain should have at least one relevant keyword in it – ideally, this should be your primary keyword (eg. iPhonetech.com, FootballMania.com, HowToLoseWeight.com… you get the idea).
- Stick with a .com domain name, but alternative TLDs (.org and .biz for instance) are okay too.
- Keep the domain name precise, short and easy-to-remember.
- Keep it easy-to-spell.
- Make sure that the domain name is descriptive – should do an apt job of describing your business and its nature.
- Refrain from using hyphens and/or numbers in your domain name unless absolutely necessary.