The Importance Of The Domain Name On Your Business

The Importance Of The Domain Name On Your Business Featured

Choosing the right domain name for your business might seem like a trivial element to your online presence. The vast majority of your time will be spent on your logo, website design, CMS and content, and picking a domain name is often a matter of choosing the closest available name.

What is a domain name?

A domain name if the ‘easy to remember’ way of locating your website. A domain name is translated via DNS into the IP address of your website, usually at your hosting provider, and allows your customers to find you online.

Do I need one?

The simple answer is yes. Any business operating today should have a website (and therefore a domain name) even if all your website does is provide the contact details and address for your company, you still need one.

Increasingly people search online for a company, as opposed to word of mouth or the now outdated Yellow Pages. With an estimated 3.5 billion searches per day done via Google, you can’t afford to miss out on this huge audience.

Region

Domain names can be country specific e.g. co.uk or .co.fr and if you primarily operate in one country, you should pick the domain suffix for that country – ‘local’ is better when searching. Global businesses should aim for a .com domain, although it is increasingly hard to find an available .com now without resorting to unusual spellings or shortening.

Some tech companies have reached the stage where they base their entire company name around the availability of the .com domain names they could find. Others resort to adjusting the traditional spelling of names like Flickr.com or Digg.com.

New Top Level Domains (TLD’s)

In 2011 ICANN voted that the restrictions on existing generic top level domains (gTLD’s) were to be removed, opening the way for almost any domain suffix imaginable, subject to significant registration fees of course.

Currently you will be offered hundreds of options such as .co and .name and more recently even trade specific suffixes such as .dentist, .photography and even .ninja! I used to advise companies to buy multiple domains to help protect their brand – it was cheap enough to pick up .com and even .co in addition to .co.uk but there are simply too many now.

It’s hard to say how these new TLDs will pan out, but unless you absolutely cannot get near the name you want via the traditional domains, I would stay clear of some of the more ‘expressive’ ones!

Name Selection

Perhaps the most important part of the domain name is the bit that is ‘yours’ – the part before the suffix. It needs to be short and memorable – try and use your full company name as this will help you with being found via search engines, but if your company name is something like John Smith Plumbing Supplies Ltd you’re going to have to find something shorter or people will struggle to type in in correctly. I’ve seen abbreviations like jsps.com or even jsplumbing.com used successfully.

Conversely the more detail in your name, particularly including ‘keywords’ (plumbing in the previous example) will be better for you when people search online for you.

Many companies augment their company name purchase with what they believe people will actually search for. So a company named Trent Aggregates might buy trentaggregates.com and also gravelonline.com to increase their exposure. There are issues around pointing two domains at the same website, but that’s a separate matter.

Check for hidden meanings!

There are no capitals in domain names. On physical media you can capitalise words to make it easier to understand, but remember to check if your selection could be interpreted another way! Classic examples of people not doing enough research before buying include ChooseSpain.com (misread as ChoosesPain.com), TeachersTalk.com (misread as TeacherStalk.com) and of course TherapistFinder.com…

How to buy a domain name

Buying a domain name is done via a ‘registrar’ a company that deals with the domain governing body for each suffix directly – and make sure you pick one that lets you search across all suffixes and provides small variations too as this will help you find the closest available match e.g. hallaggregates.co.uk might be gone, but hallaggregatesuk.co.uk might be available.

This post was written by Rob Gordon, an IT geek, gadget lover and blogger. Rob has been using the internets since 1994 when the only streaming video was that coffee pot in Cambridge (rip).... Follow Rob on Twitter - @robgordon - about.me/robgordonuk