Choosing your domain name is very important.
For the purposes of this article, your domain name and your URL are the same thing. The domain name is what people type into the address bar to find your website – i.e. www.BradPauquetteDesign.com is my domain name. Google’s domain name is www.Google.com.
The most popular endings for your domain name are .com, .org, .net and .info. Normally, .org is reserved for non-profit organizations. You don’t need to be a 501(c)3 organization to get one, it’s on the honor system. If your website’s primary intent is to do something other than make money (like serve a community or promote a cause), you can use .org. The other endings like .com, .net, and .info use to have special meanings, but now they’re basically interchangeable.
Your domain name can be any combination of numbers and letters. Some special characters, like hyphens, are allowed, but it’s generally a good idea to avoid them. Capitalized letters don’t matter – google.com and GoOgLe.com are the same thing. Whether you type in bradpauquettedesign.com or BradPauquetteDesign.com, you’ll get to the same address.
Whether you put the www. in front of the name or not doesn’t matter anymore in most situations. Most domain name providers make sure that you can use your name with or without www.
To search for available domain names, visit LunarPages.com.
There are three factors to consider when choosing a domain name:
1) Search Engine Keywords – try to put words into your domain name that customers will search for on Google.
2) Memorability – can customers easily remember your name? The shorter the better, and numbers can be confusing (is it 2dogbakery.com or twodogbakery.com).
3) Relevance to Your Company Name – make your domain name as close to your actual company name as possible.
Obviously, in most cases, you can’t satisfy all of these criteria. And in many cases, the domain names that you want the most are already taken.
When choosing which factors are most important to you, think about where you expect to get most of your business. I’ll use a fictitious plumbing company called Joe & Sons Plumbing, located in Westerville, Ohio as an example.
If you expect to get most of your business from search engines like Google or Bing, concentrate on number 1, search engine keywords, to make yourself more visible. If Joe & Sons Plumbing expects most of their business to come from search engines, something like “WestervilleOhioPlumber.com” would be a great choice. It’s not very similar to their actual business name and it’s a mouthful, but “Westerville Ohio Plumber” is something that lots of people will be typing into Google hoping to find a company like Joe & Sons Plumbing.
If you expect to get most of your business from traditional advertising like billboards, newspaper ads and sky-writing, #2 a memorable name, is most important. BestPlumber.com would be great. It’s short, to the point and easy to tell someone – there are no hard words to spell, and no numbers or hyphens to specify.
If you’re an established businesses and expect that most of your customers already know the name of your company, get as close to your actual name as possible. (Sears.com, Walmart.com, Lowes.com – customers are looking for their specific company, not a general category) If Joe & Sons Plumbing has been the only plumber in Westerville for 30 years, JoeandSonsPlumbing.com will work great even though it’s long.
Normally, your source of new customers won’t be as obvious as the above examples, and you’re going to have to search long and hard to find an available domain name you’re happy with. At the end of the day, Joe & Sons will probably end up with something like JoesWestervillePlumber.com – it contains the search engine terms “Westerville” and “Plumber”, it’s pretty easy to remember, and it’s relevant to the company’s actual name – you won’t be too surprised when the logo says Joe and Sons Plumbing on it.
If you need help finding a relevant domain name or setting up web hosting, please contact me for assistance today.