Close your eyes and picture this… (well, don’t really close your eyes or you’ll never read the rest of this article – just pretend to)
You’ve written your business plan. You have a great company name. You even have your marketing strategy all mapped out. Now it’s time to create your website. But first, you have to think about choosing a domain name…
The sound of brakes squealing… followed by a crash… followed by a fiery explosion!
Your eyes snap open! What the---? How could such a simple thing like a little ol’ domain name create a 43 car pileup on my superhighway to market dominance? Very easily… if you’re not careful. But let’s back up for a moment.
If you’ve never had one before, a domain name is the part of a website address that you choose. It comes after the “www.” and before the suffix (like “.com” or “.net”). It is the part of the website your visitors are going to remember (if you want them coming back to your site – and obviously you do or you would be reading our other blog, “Picking a Crummy Domain Name for the Business You Want to Run into the Ground”). For instance www.mybigfatpuppy.com could be owned by someone who loves their pet very much (and subsequently spoils it by allowing it to eat too much).
Once you’re happy with a possible domain name, you can register it on a yearly basis – provided the name is still available. Unfortunately, a lot of names, especially simple ones, are long gone. According to http://www.domaintools.com there are currently over 128,000,000 active domain names, and 140,000+ new names being registered every day, with the majority of these being “.com”.
What does that mean to you? Probably that your first one or two (or 100) choices may already be taken. If that’s the case, you have two options. 1.) Purchase the domain name you really want (if it’s for sale) and pay through the nose, or 2) Get creative and come up with another domain name that is available and still works for your business.
The perfect name for your website may be the name of your business. If your business name is Joe’s Bar, then www.joesbar.com would be a great domain name for you, but it’s so short and simple that it’s probably not going to be available - unless you want to pay a lot for it from someone who originally purchased it to resell to someone that really wants it, like yourself.
When you conduct your search, you may see that a domain like www.joesbar.org or www.joesbar.biz is available instead. While it may be tempting to purchase one of these names, we advise against it. It’s going to take a strong message to overcome most people’s instinct to go to joesbar.com instead. And you don’t to be sending your business to another site. If at all possible, stick with “.com”.
You might be tempted to go with a phonetic spelling like www.joezbar.com, but replacing the “s” with a “z” could just confuse everyone. You could also pick www.joesbar33761.com. And while it may be your actual zip code, there’s a good chance people will get the numbers wrong, especially since many of your regulars might reside in a different zip code – and forget about vacationers trying to remember your website. Unless you live in a highly touted zip code (like 90210) too many numbers result in too many possibilities for mistakes.
Instead, look at alternatives such as www.joesbarrocks.com (last time we checked it was available) or, if you live in St. Petersburg, www.stpetesbestbar.com (available too). Either of these two slogans, “Joe’s Bar Rocks” or “St. Pete’s Best Bar” could be used in your marketing campaign (T-shirts, etc) to solidify the domain name recognition, thus making it easier for your customers to remember your website.
Okay, maybe Joe’s Bar was too easy of an example. What if your business name is Hyunjin’s Phytonutrients? We’re pretty sure www.hyunjinsphytonutrients.com is available. We’re also pretty sure there’s going to be a high probability of someone misspelling that domain name (if they attempt to spell it at all). Make it easy for your customers to get to your site. Since phytonutrients refer to the nutrients found in plants, St. Pete Plants could describe your business and be much easier for your customers to remember (not to mention its potential to help rank you higher on search engines). And yes, www.stpeteplants.com was available at the time of writing this blog.
With a little creative thinking, you can still find a “.com” domain name that can work for you, as well as make it part of your marketing campaign. If you find your desired domain name is available, it’s wise to purchase it immediately. Remember, over 140,000 new domain names are registered daily. We’ve known people that have searched for a name, then waited a couple of days before purchasing it – only to find someone else nabbed the domain in that short period of time.
Don’t let a bad domain cause your business to skid out of control on the information super highway. Use the above tips to steer clear of pitfalls associated with choosing your website name.
If you would like further information about how a powerful web presence can help your business, please contact one of our friendly Captivation representatives today. See how we can reduce your operating expenses, increase your productivity and make your company more competitive.