Registering or purchasing a domain name for your business, a comprehensive guide.
How to secure a good domain name for your business.
If you aren’t already sold that your business should have a page on the Internet, well frankly-it should. Assumingly, you are already convinced of this, as everyone around you, even the local hole-in-the-wall drycleaner has a website these days it seems. Well all websites start with a domain name, and getting a good one, and without being ripped off is a must. Here’s how:
First understand the difference between buying a domain name, and purchasing web hosting. The domain name is your address to access your website, you must get hosting to accompany it, but there is much more to be said about buying the domain name itself. Hosting is the actual space where your website is stored, and it is usually bought with the domain name, although you can certainly buy a domain name without having to get hosting. I won’t discuss hosting here.
Domain names, being very limited as there is only one of whatever name you want, suggests that you should purchase the name immediately even before you are ready to make your website, at least you will have reserved the name for yourself.
When making the decision of purchasing a domain name for your businesses website, don’t rule out the possibility of securing more then one domain name. Names can be had for cheap these days, under twenty dollars at all the major domain registrars for a yearly renewal.
Where to begin:
Start by securing the exact name of your business, preferably in.com format, and do what you can to get it-up to a point. If you are a pizza restaurant called Rick’s Pizza, surely you should check the availability of RicksPizza.com, this can be done with a WHOIS search-whois.net is good. But if someone owns it and is asking $8000 for it, you likely won’t see how to justify the price. The domain owner will be especially demanding if they are aware how badly you need the name, so if you make an offer think about how to go about this. More on this in a bit. But if getting your dream domain isn’t an option because of the price, instead you could try a different TLD-the domain ending- like RicksPizza.net, RicksPizza.biz. Dotcom is best however, so it is recommended that instead you may try adding a word to the.com version, like-OrderRicksPizza.com, etc.
Some general tips for “domain storming” a name, aim for the following:
Try to keep your name short: names can be up to 63 characters in length, and yours should be nowhere near that.
Be descriptive: Use relevant keywords if it makes sense, like “BuyMensPants.com” for example if you are a clothier.
Be catchy: If you want to make up a nonsense name even, try a web 2.0 name generator like: Dotomator.com. This worked for major webstart ups Joomla and Drupal for example
Avoid trademarks in your name, as you don’t need the liability.
Avoid hyphens in the name-unless happen to be doing business in Germany where they prefer this!
Avoid numerical digits in the domain, this is confusing when people hear the domain name-say over the radio-and assume “5-0” was “FiveZero”
Be sure it’s a name you don’t have to spell out for people. Flickr.com for example has had that problem since day one, spoken on the radio for example, no one knows it’s missing the “e”.
Consider misspellings: If your business is popular enough, or especially if it has a popular misspelling in the name, register different variations of how your name can be spelled. Note as a very mainstream example that googel.com links to Google.com because they recognized the lost traffic they’d have received otherwise to people who cant spell “Google.”
You may want to consider purchasing more then one domain to take advantage of domain forwarding-where one domain points to another. So again, if you are “Ricks Pizza”, don’t just get “RicksPizza.com” maybe get “OrderHotPizza.com” as well. People might type such terms into a search engine or even directly into the URL bar, and having those particular names forwarded to your main website would be very beneficial. Web registrars, where you register your name can certainly help you with that.
The single most important tip for securing a domain is to make sure the domain name has an auto-renewal, otherwise you can loose your domain to public auction and have to pay big to get your own name back, don’t let this happen to you by keeping your name locked at it’s registrar, and with auto-renewal set and a healthy credit card on file.