Your domain name is the navigator for your business’s digital footprint.
By Monica Pitts
Your domain name has a set of records in it that tells the Internet where to send visitors when they type your domain into a browser. These records are called IP addresses. Sticking with the map analogy, think of your domain name like your street address, and your IP address like your longitude and latitude. The domain name is the shortcut to the longitude and latitude.
It’s important to get a good one, because we’ve all dealt with bad ones, spelling them on repeat on the phone, giving up and sending an email with a link instead. If you’re currently stuck doing this, it is a sign your domain name sucks. Let’s change that.
1. Get the right extension.
There are several domain name extensions you can use, .net, .com, .org, .us, each are suited for different types of businesses. If you can have the .com you should have the .com. Most people automatically assume you’re using .com.
The .net extension is mostly reserved for technology and internet companies.
Before you choose a .us or .us.com make sure your hosting company will accept that domain, many do not.
2. Your domain name should be as close to your company name as possible.
It needs to make sense for your business. Because you’re paying to advertise your company.
You can certainly buy a domain name that describes what you do, for example ‘asphaltdriveways.com’, but you should also own your business name and both should direct to the same website.
Most of your customers won’t remember to go to ‘asphaltdriveways.com’, to get your contact information, they’ll look up your business name.
Don’t feel like you have to buy more than one. If your company name is nice and short, and you can get a .com, just go with that. But having more than one is good too.
3. A shorter name is better.
For the most part, the shorter the better. The last thing you want is a domain name that doesn’t fit on your business card.
If you have a long company name, you may want multiple domain names.
Buy a domain with your full name and then buy another with your nickname or an acronym you call your company. Then you can set up your email addresses at the shorter domain and save everyone the heartache of spelling out the long name on repeat.
4. Buy multiple domain names if your company name is spelled weird.
If your business name is hard to spell or if you have multiple names or division names you may need to purchase more than one domain.
One of our clients uses two names for different parts of their business but their clients think it’s all the same business because it resides under one roof. They have EyeDentity Eyewear, their optical business, and Williams and Associates Eyecare, the name under which the optometrists work. People search for their business as “Williams Eyewear”, “EyeDentity Eyecare” and a handful of other names. They are perfect candidates for multiple domains.
5. Check if your domain name is funny, but not in a good way.
Think about your domain name like a hashtag. A hashtag doesn’t work if you can’t read the individual words or if they make other words.
I have a funny example for this one, and it’s a company I love.
Delta Companies is an acquaintance of ours and their domain name is Delta Cos .com, deltacos.com, Del Tacos.com. I literally think of their business as del tacos.
Every time I see them, I say, “hey, you’re the del tacos folks!” They laugh about it too, so I feel like we can laugh about it with them. And I love tacos.
Before you buy a domain name, write it out so you can see it.
Have someone else read it too, to double check. You don’t want your domain name to say bad things. Del tacos is fun, but pen island is less fun, if you catch my drift. Don’t believe me? Just write it out on a piece of paper, all one word.
6. Sometimes you’ll need general and specific domain names.
Let’s say that you’ve gone through the whole process of choosing a domain name, and you really want to have JohnDoeAsphalt.com, but it isn’t available. Consider adding a location as long as it’s representative of where you do business. So, if you do business in Missouri, it’s okay to have JohnDoeAsphaltMo.com.
This works as long as JohnDoeAsphalt.com is not another company who provides the same services in your area. If the company whose domain you want does the same service as you, or they are near your area, you probably want something that differentiates you a little bit more.
In that case, you could do:
• John Doe Paving
• John Doe Driveways
• John Doe Pavers
Adjust the domain to make it work for you.
Where to register your awesome domain name.
To register a domain name for your organization you can use one of a number of different registrars across the internet. We prefer GoDaddy for domain names.
Though we don’t use them for any other services, the domain name functionality in their website is really easy to use.
We also have clients that use Network Solutions and Tucows. Or you can look at HostGator or Name.com. The list goes on and on. Most of them sell the same domains, so it doesn’t necessarily matter which one you use.
Now, go forth and confidently select an awesome domain name for your organization.
Monica Pitts is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of MayeCreate Design. She spends her days constructing a marriage of form and function; creating art with her design team to grow businesses through websites and online marketing. Monica considers herself an artist, marketer and web dork with the ability to speak geek and English.