Why Should You Have Your Own Domain Name?

Why Should You Have Your Own Domain Name?

In 1989, I got my first account on a machine that was connected to the Internet, years before there was even a graphical Web browser, or even a Web, for that matter. Then, practically the only domain names in use belonged to colleges & universities, government agencies, the military, a few organizations concerned with the development of the Internet itself and a handful of big high-tech companies. I wrote home from college to tell my parents to "get ready, it's going to take over."

Now, fifteen years later, it has, and most companies of all sizes and shapes have websites, hundreds of millions of people have at least one e-mail address and people use the Internet to find out all kinds of information, from driving directions to weather forecasts to bank account balances.

So how do you set yourself or your business apart on the Net with a unique presence? There's one way - establish your own domain name, like "yourcompany.com". Registering a domain name used to be a daunting process; but now, there are companies set up for the purpose of taking care of the red-tape for you. Nowadays, it's as easy as deciding what name you want to claim, finding out if it's available (and that's automated!) and then registering it for yourself if it is. Then it's yours to keep as long as you (or the company you choose to handle it) renew your registration every year. Think about it. You can have the same email addresses for the rest of your life and even pass them down to your children or company. You are now in total control of never losing contact via your email addresses. (or something like this)

When you combine it with proper website and e-mail hosting, the establishment of your unique domain name gives you several advantages:

1) It increases your name recognition and allows your friends, family or customers to remember more easily how to find you and your site. It's a lot easier to remember www.example.com than it is to remember www.free-hosting.com/business/~example.

2) It gives you a more serious and professional "appearance" on the Net. Even if they allowed it and could handle the volume of traffic, hosting a busy commercial website on an individual's free web space or on a free server like GeoCities isn't very practical or professional.

3) It helps brand your image and adds a level of trust and integrity to your site. You don't want to be the attorney at the city club with an e-mail address like joelaw38@hotmail.com when everybody's passing out their business cards!

4) It helps people find you through search engines. Sites like Yahoo! and Google have taken on immense importance, and getting your site in users' search results is key to establishing new relationships with them. Many search engines only index the first page of a site with a domain name, and some refuse to list pages on free hosting sites at all!

5) Nobody else will get the name that you need. In the early days of the Web, people would register domain names later to be coveted by large corporations; and a few made lots of money selling their rights to those names before the practice was made illegal. But even now, anyone with a business similar to yours may lay claim to the perfect name and you'd have to settle for a less desirable choice.

6) It gives you a permanent "anchor" for your Internet identity. Even if you're not ready to establish a website, you can still register the name now and use it later. Most domain name registration services will allow you to "park" your domain for as long as you wish without really doing anything with it.

7) E-mail addresses hosted in association with your domain name will not change, even if you switch ISPs or temporarily lose your access during a move, for example.

Until fairly recently, all the great reasons to establish your own domain name were outweighed for an individual or small-business by the difficulty of actually doing it. That has changed, however, and finding a hosting provider who will set you up with your own domain, e-mail and a website is easy and inexpensive. It doesn't make any sense at all for a business, or even an individual, to go another day without taking this step forward. The Internet is here to stay - it's important to make sure that your Internet identity is too.

About the Author

Trevor Bauknight is a web designer and can be reached at trevor@tryid.com.