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Choosing a Domain Name
by: Garland Coulson
Your web site address, or domain name, is an important part of your Internet branding and Internet marketing strategy. But most people give the choice of a domain name little thought, and just register their company name or the closest domain name they can get to their company name.
By doing this, they are missing some great Internet marketing opportunities.
Let's look at some of the choices you need to make and ways to make your domain name market harder for you.
Company Name vs. What People Search For
Let's look at a hypothetical business called Susan's Creations that makes gift baskets. (My apologies to any businesses that may actually have this name.)
In this example, Susan registers "susanscreations.com" as her domain name, .com being the most common suffix for domain names.
This domain name has the benefit of being easy to remember and would work well for people who already know about Susan's company and are searching for it by name.
But what if this is a new company and Susan's Creations is unknown? People will most likely search for "gift baskets", not for a company they've never heard of.
Many search engines will rank a web site higher if they have the key word people are searching for right in the domain name. So, in this case, a domain name like giftbaskets.com would rank higher when people search for "gift baskets" than a domain name like susanscreations.com.
For a company like Nike, nike.com would work better than runningshoes.com because Nike has spent millions of dollars and many years building up the brand name, Nike.
But for entrepreneurs, focusing on what you are selling instead of your company name might improve your chances of success. So in this case, Susan should probably look at a domain name like "giftbaskets.com."
Unfortunately, many common product names with the .com extension are already taken. So let's look at some alternatives.
Are you serving the world, your country, or your local town?
If your customers are country or town specific, you can use your domain name to help you be found easier when customers are looking for local products and services.
The most common domain names are as follows.
- .com - global commercial
- .org – global for organizations
- .net – global for networks
- .biz – global for business
Each country also has it's own geographic domain name suffix. Here are a few examples:
- Canada - .ca
- United States - .us
- Great Britain - .uk
- Australia - .au
- Germany - .de
So if you are a Canadian company with primarily Canadian clients, it would make sense to register a .ca name so that people know you are Canadian. This will also help you rank higher in the search engines when people are looking for country specific searches. So Susan might want to register giftbaskets.ca instead of giftbaskets.com.
For common names such as gift baskets, you'll probably find the .com name already gone and even the country name may be gone as well. You might be able to still use the phrase you need and target your geographic area even better by trying domain names such as:
By using the city, you will improve your ranking when people search for a phrase which includes the city such as "Vancouver gift baskets." Most people looking for local help will include the local city or town in the search.
Finding an alternate name
You can find out what alternate key words people are looking for in the search engines by using a service such as WordTracker. WordTracker will help you find alternative, high-traffic key words that you can then incorporate into your domain name.
1. Ease of use: Is the domain name short enough to remember or to be given over the phone? If Susan chooses a domain name like "susanscreationsgiftbaskets.com," you can see how people would find it difficult to remember or write down.
2. Hyphens: Some people register domain names with hyphens in them because the name they wanted is already registered, for example "gift-baskets.com." This can be effective, but too many hyphens make it hard to remember and you run the risk of people just typing in the name without hyphens and being directed to a competitor.
3. Vanity domain names: It might be a good idea to register your own personal name. I registered garlandcoulson.com so that it wouldn't be gone when I was ready to do something with it.
Where to register your domain name
Our recommended company for registering domain names is Dotster - Dotster will allow you to register .com domain names for $14.95 US per year and .ca domain names for about $20.00 US per year.
At these kinds of costs, you can afford to purchase a number of domain names to ensure they won't be gone when you are ready to launch additional Internet ventures.
A great domain name could be the start of a great Internet business!
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About The Author
Garland Coulson, "The E-Business Tutor" is an acclaimed speaker, author and coach in the field of Internet marketing for small business and home business. For more information, visit The E-Business Tutor web site at www.ebusinesstutor.com or call toll-free in North America at 1-866-413-0951.
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