By = Kamanashish Roy on = December 7, 2010
Your domain name is your online brand
Selecting the right domain name for a new business is a tough job. After all, the domain name - or website address - is both your company’s location on the web and its online brand. Following a few simple steps can help you choose a domain name that will help you build a strong Web presence.
If you are about to buy a domain name for the first time, you may want to learn more about what's involved.
Consider including your most important keyword in your domain name
If you are entering an established market, including an important keyword in your domain name can help your site rank higher in searches for that keyword. That in turn can bring more new customers to your website.
If your product is so new that it doesn’t have an established market, you can go for a domain name that includes your product name or company name. Note that the Fizzy Fruit founders chose a domain name that describes their cutting-edge product.
Make sure your domain name bolsters your brand
If you go to the domain WholesaleAbsurdative.com, you expect to see that same name on the home page. If the logo and text leave out the “wholesale” and just say “Absurdative,” you could think you’ve arrived at a fake website. I'd go so far as to recommend that you register your business name after you have acquired your domain name.
Make sure your domain name doesn't undermine your brand. Look for "hidden" words within the domain name that people may accidentally read. If you own TruckersExpress.com, you probably don't want people to read it as TruckerSexPress.com. You'd be better off choosing TruckerExpress.com.
Keep it short and sweet
Unless you want to create a website that specializes in sarcasm, it’s a bad idea to register a domain name like ThisIsTheOnlyDomainNameWeCouldGet.com. People won’t remember it.
Sometimes people purchase domain names that are acronyms of a long name – say, for example, TITODNWCG.com. Unless your organization is well known by its initials – like ICANN, AARP or CIA – it’s a mistake to use a string of initials for your domain name. Even people who know your organization could have trouble remembering it, and potential customers probably won't.
Avoid hyphens in your domain name
Because it can be difficult to acquire exactly the domain name you want, people often use hyphens – for example, Wholesale-Absurdative.com. This isn't a problem if you take care to highlight those hyphens in your marketing communications, especially in your logo. Otherwise people will forget to type the hyphens and will land on a different website. I recommend you choose a domain name without hyphens.
Test your domain name over the phone
Your website and business can go viral - Web-speak for "spread like wildfire" - only if people can remember the domain name. Call some of your friends and tell them about the new website you’re planning to launch. Make sure you repeat your favored domain name a few times – but be subtle about it. After a few days, call these people back and ask them what the name of your website is. If people can’t remember the website name even after a hint or two, it’s not memorable.
Here’s another useful phone test: Call other friends, tell them your favored domain name once, and ask them to repeat it to you. You could even ask them to spell it. If they can pronounce it right and spell it, you have a memorable, easy-to-type domain name.
Domain name registration companies often suggest alternatives if your desired domain name isn’t available. For example, if you ask for Absurdative.com, they might suggest AbsurdativeOnline.com or TheAbsurdative.com. If you’re trying to develop a brand around your domain name, these are not good options.
An alternative like MyAbsurdative.com is a good choice if you are trying to develop a community around your business. It can give visitors the sense that your website was developed expressly for them and as a place to interact with other community members.
A great example of this is MyWOT.com, the domain name for Web of Trust. The site’s members review websites and caution each other about websites that operate scams or engage in other untrustworthy practices.
Domain names beyond .com
There are more than 200 top-level domains - the part after the dot - available to choose from. While .com is a safe choice for a business because it's so familiar, you may not be able to buy the most appropriate name for your business within the .com top-level domain.
You may want to consider other top-level domains that could add meaning to your domain name. Apart from safe choices like .biz, .net or .org, you could consider alternatives like:
- Absurdative.pro if your business is a professional firm
- Absurdative.travel if your business is related to travel
You can also consider a country code top-level domain (cc tld) that adds meaning to your domain name. One good example is .co, the code for Columbia. Not all country codes are available to just anyone, however; some are reserved for websites located in that country.
Buy alternative domain names and redirect them to your main site
It's a good idea to acquire all the common versions of your domain name to protect your brand. You don't want someone else buying Absurdative.net or Absurdative.biz and creating a site hosting something that could pollute your image, such as porn or hate speech.
You can also help people get to your website by [[ purchasing common misspellings of your domain name and redirecting them to your website. Wikipedia.org probably wishes they had Wikapedia.org and Wickipedia.org, for example.
If a well-known company already owns the .com name you want, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to buy any variant of that name. Most established companies protect their brand by purchasing all domain names that include their brand name. If your radio station is called Apple, and you want to buy Apple.fm, don’t hold your breath.
Do any domain names redirect to your website? Which domain names redirect to your competitors' websites? Check out the Redirectory to find out. You'll find the Redirectory on the AboutUs page for any website. Navigation for the report is in the left-hand sidebar.