You wouldn't think that choosing a domain name would prove to be a challenging task. After all, you have a unique business name such as, "John's Super Fast Plumbing Company" and you've verified that "johnssuperfastplumbingcompany.com" is available, so shouldn't you just go with that? But what about the end of the domain name? Should it be .com, .net, .tv, .biz, .us, or some other extension? Should you hyphenate it? Or maybe it should be more descriptive, like johns-fast-plumbing-in-your-city.com? This article will provide answers and helpful advice for selecting a domain name to serve your needs for years to come.
Branding & Domain Name Length
It probably goes without saying that your domain name should incorporate your business name in some way. After all, a domain name is part of the entire package of efforts that go into creating your company's brand. However, if you have a very long name you may want to consider using a shortened version for two reasons. First, it will be easier to remember, for your clients. Second, your domain name is going to be at the end of all the email addresses associated with it. How much fun would it be to type or write email@example.com all the time? So, to keep things simpler, in our example plumbing company's case, they might want to choose a domain name that is shorter, like johnsfastplumbing.com, or even simply johnsplumbing.com. If those two are already taken, you can always try adding a suffix (johnsplumbinginc.com) or a prefix (thefastplumber.com).
Domain URL Extension (.com, .biz, .us)
Choosing an extension for your domain name is an important consideration. While the less popular extensions such as .tv or .us may cost you less upfront, they will likely cost you more in the long run, due to their lack of popularity. The most globally known and accepted extension is .com, and therefore it is our first choice when recommending domain names to our clients. However, if a client is a nonprofit organization, it is desirable to also have the .org extension of their domain name. If you are in a highly competitive market and all of the variations of your domain name with the .com extension are taken, another popular choice in domain extension is .net.
Hyphenation in a Domain Name
Not unlike using an unpopular extension, using a hyphen when choosing a domain name will make it harder for people to remember and type correctly into their browser's address bar. There are exceptions to this rule, for example if you have a very short domain name in mind that only uses one hyphen, it may be worth purchasing the hyphenated domain name, if all of the other factors are desireable. In the example of the plumbing company, if johns-plumbing.com was an available domain name, it would be preferable to a long domain name, or a domain name using an unpopular extension.
Adding Localization to your Domain Name
One might think that adding localization to their domain name would improve their marketing by targeting a local area (e.g. johnsplumbingindianapolis.com). In some cases, it can, but it is important to be careful when using this tactic. Remember that your domain name is going to stick with you, no matter what city, or area, you are in. So for example if John moved to Atlanta, he'd have to change all of his business cards, brochures, and any other printed materials to have his new domain name (assuming that johnsplumbingatlanta.com was available). Or even if John decided he'd also like to include a neighboring city in his service area (e.g. Chicago) his domain name might drive away the potential customers in the new area. While John could certainly try to choose a domain name with his new area included, it would be important that he not simply duplicate his previous site and attach the new domain to it. Doing so could result in penalties from search sites such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, which would knock him down in search engine rankings. If you want to add localization to your site (and we recommend you do!) there are many other options besides having it in your domain name.
With that said, let's go over the instances where adding localization would be helpful. This time, instead of John being an independant company, let's assume he is simply one franchise owner of a larger corporation called "John's Super Fast Plumbing." In this case, there could be a company franchise in several cities across the country, but he wants to be specific to Indianapolis. In this case, it's entirely appropriate to add the city name to his domain. Another instance of appropriate localization to a domain name is with local clubs. People don't tend to do searches for clubs in other cities - they want to be part of a club that they'll attend in-person, such as a bridge club, an aviation club, a gaming club, an equestrian club, etc. Having the city in your domain name can be extremely helpful in this situation, because domain name is an important ranking factor in search engines. So for example, Indianapolisbridgeclub.com would be an appropriate and useful domain name for a bridge club whose primary audience is in the Indianapolis area.
Registering Your Domain Name
Once you've picked out your domain name, it's important to buy it as soon as you're ready. Organizations across the US are creating businesses and selecting domain names every day. If you're pretty sure about your domain name, go ahead and buy it. The worst case scenario is that you don't use it, and end up wasting $15-25 for nothing. We often use the services of Godaddy or Network Solutions to register domain names, and have found both companies to be straighforward and easy to work with. However, if you're unsure about the process of choosing or registering a domain name, we're here to help. Give us a call and we'll gladly handle your domain registering and ensure that you're notified well in advance of its expiration date, so you never have to worry about losing it.