to Choose a Good Domain Name
How to Choose a Good Domain Name
In this digital age, your company's web site is your electronic
business card. A strong domain name is the key to your Internet
presence. It should be recognizable and relate to your business
name, brand, product, and/or activities. Make sure it fits on a
business card and is easy to remember whether seen in print or mentioned
over the phone.
Use the name people know you by. Don't abbreviate, unless the abbreviation
is your company's trademark. Ask your co-workers, your customers,
your friends, and your family what domain name they'd expect your
company to have.
Don't forget to include your domain name in your site's logo. And
put your domain name on all company promotional materials such as
business cards and stationary.
Conventional wisdom states that a good domain name is easy for
customers to remember, easy to spell, and short. That said, it's
increasingly difficult to secure short domain names among top level
domain names such as .com, .net and ,org. In these cases (and you
have 67 characters to choose from), it's preferable to choose a
meaningful statement such as Lawreferralservice.com" or Hotelreservationservice.com,"
rather than lrs.com or hrs.com
Give a Good Impression
We all know that first impressions can be crucial, so choose your
domain name carefully. Domain names often come without spaces, so
pay careful attention to the total package. For example, PatternsExchange
can look like patternsexchange.
Select Alternate Names
If your first domain name choice is not available, you can check
the "whois" information box for the domain name, contact
the person listed, and see if they're willing to sell it. If they
want to sell, they will likely charge more than the $24.95 registration
fee. An easier alternative is to register a variation of your first
For example, if your company name is Mrs Smith's Cookies, but mrssmithscookies.com
and the more obvious cookies.com are registered, try adding a small
letter such as "e" to indicate that it's an online business.
Or add the word online. Or add your location to attract local customers:
Alternatively, try registering a local domain name:
Use a little creativity, and you may find your alternative beats
your original choice. Once you've got a list of alternatives for
your online business, test them with your friends and colleagues
to see which ones they like best. Make sure these names can be easily
pronounced and spelled by your test audience. Then, rank them in
order of popularity.
Consider Spelling Mistakes
Consider mistakes people will make when typing your web site address
and how your domain name sounds when you have to read it over the
phone to a customer. Explaining special characters, abbreviations,
and spelling is awkward and doesn't make good business sense. Will
customers accidentally make spelling mistakes? Will they use the
plural form of a word instead of the singular form, or visa versa?
Make a list of possible mistakes, and register additional domain
names that incorporate these mistakes.
Register Multiple Versions of Your Name
Register all possible domain name variations related to your company
name. If your company's name is hard to spell, register common misspellings.
Register every domain people might use to find your company. It
only costs $24.95 a year to register each domain name, and that's
a small expense to keep a customer.
Take this example: Before America Online acquired Time Warner for
$178 billion, it registered at least 21 domain names that might
be useful to the new company, named AOL Time Warner, from AOLTW.com
to AmericaOnlineTimeWarner.com. Alternatively, web sites exist that
capitalize on misspellings using them as advertising vehicles and
diverting customers from your site.
Register Product Names
When users search the Internet for a particular product or service
they often search by product or service, rather than business name.
To increase the chances of having your site found, register extra
domain names that relate to your core business or products.
If you owned the hypothetical company name of Widgets & Widgets
co. but you sold an array of household products, you could register
generic domain names relating to all aspects of household goods.
You may be too late to snap up obvious domain names such as detergent.com
or vacuum.com, but a little creative thinking into alternatives
can be lucrative. These alternative domains can be easily linked
to your main web site.
Avoid Trademarked Names
Ensure someone else has not trademarked the name you register.
You cannot register names already registered as copyright (for example,
McDonalds). Like company names, domain names are unique and cannot
be duplicated. Avoid registering domain names that are similar to
your competition or to famous trademarks. Businesses have lost their
rights to registered domain names due to conflicts with existing
trademarks for off-line companies.
If your company is located in Canada, you can register a .ca domain
name even if your business activity includes export trade. If you
have an international presence, a top-level domain such as .com,
.net , or .org is more suitable. Many businesses choose to register
all three, and we suggest doing so. All three addresses can "point"
to the same e-mail account and web site.
Conversely, you might open a virtual office in another country.
For example, bread.com could also register bread.ca, which may "point"
towards the same site, attracting a larger audience. Don't forget
to check to see if a local presence is required in the country you
wish to register.
Use a metaphor
If your .dot com businesses does not have a name, the world is
your oyster. One Internet incubation company decided on the metaphor
campsix, referring to the final basecamp on the Everest climb rather
than a straight description of services. The name reflected the
difficulty and challenges of building an Internet company to the
scaling of Everest. Bear in mind that if your web site is the primary
tool for business, the company name must be the company URL.
About the Author
Shaun Cronrath is the
President & CEO of DomainPurpose.com (http://www.domainpurpose.com),
a domain name registration company offering all the major domain
extensions -- .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, .name, .ca, .us, .cn,
.eu, .de, .pro and more.