Choosing your domain name is a no-brainer, right? Not so fast. Your domain name, or URL, can have vast consequences in both the online and offline marketing arena. Long or difficult to spell domain names can be the death toll for any website, long before its even been given a chance at success. Short or clever domain names can make people remember where to go more easily, while keyword domain names can often bring in unintentional, yet quality, traffic as people type in whatever.com.
If you already operate a successful business it's important that you purchase a domain name that will compliment any branding strategy that you have already put in place. The most obvious thing to do is to get your business name as your URL, however if you're late getting into the game you may find that your business name is already taken by another similarly named business or by a domain name squatter, or possibly a future competitor. Purchasing a business name domain name isn't always the right way to go, and when left without that option, a keyword domain name might work just as well, if not better.
If you have not yet established your business, you may want to wait on deciding your business name until after you have found an available domain name that is suitable to your marketing efforts. The following are some things that you need to consider in regard to what domain name will best help you achieve your marketing interests.
Build Your Brand
Whether you like it or not, your domain name is an important part of your branding efforts. Your domain name goes on your letterhead, business card, printed materials; it must be spoken verbally over the phone, presented in email communications, and appears in the search results when your site ranks well on important keyword searches. Because of all this, your URL must be able to fit into your long-term branding strategy.
Keep it Short & Memorable
The best domain name is one that is relatively short and memorable. Long domain names or domains with hyphens are often just too cumbersome for someone to remember or even pass along to others. Are you better off telling a potential customer to visit debbies-hair-care-supplies.com or debshaircare.com?
Secure a .com
I strongly recommend purchasing a .com domain name as opposed to a .net, .info, .biz or anything else. If your chosen domain name is not available in a .com, keep looking until you find one that isn't taken. You'll find it worth the extra effort as .com domain names are by far the most common and most remembered. When telling a potential customer to go to your website, you may tell them to go to "mysite.net," but what they may actually hear is go to "mysite.com." If that happens, which is often the case, you'll be sending someone to a competitor rather than your own site.
Once you secure your .com domain name, you might also consider purchasing the .net and other extensions as well. Securing the alternate extensions, whenever possible, can be a great strategy to keep a competitor from purchasing and building a site with a similar name as yours.
Avoid getting stuck with a hyphenated domain name as your main website address. While it may be easier to read in print, it is very difficult to speak it. Try telling someone to go to "window dash coverings dot com" or "window hyphen coverings dot com." See what I mean? Most of the time people will type in windowcoverings.com which would again direct them to a potential competitor.
Spell Words Properly
It is usually not a good idea to use incorrectly spelled words in your domain name, even if you've done that to create a clever business name. The exception to this rule is if you have secured both the correctly spelled and incorrectly spelled URLs. You'll want to make sure you use proper redirects to send visitors from the correctly spelled URL to your main (misspelled) address.
Here is a quick example. Without using a search engine, find a website which would be verbalized as "On Site Graphics." Where did you end up? Did you find onsitegrafix.com? Most people probably won't, which clearly demonstrates why you want to use proper spellings of words in your domain, at the very least as a redirect to your real domain.
Before going out and buying the first domain name that comes to mind, take a step back so you can think it through first. While you can easily change your domain name before your site goes live, once you've begun the work of establishing your web presence changing a domain name is not quite a simple. The best possible domain name is one that is both a keyword domain and your business name such as outdoorsportinggoods.com.
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Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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