Choosing a Good Domain Name

Posted by admin on Dec 31 2008 | 29 views | Domain Names



Your domain name is your address on the World Wide Web. The domain name isn’t much different than a street address. When properly entered it directs viewers to your internet presence. Back in the day one needed to type in www.yourdomain.com but these days the web is simplified and all one needs is what comes after the “www.” While the “www” is still present in the domain address, it is no longer necessary to type the extra key strokes. Your viewer types in the full phrase “http://yourdomain.com” and is whisked off to your site. By the way, the “http” stands for hypertext transfer protocol but that is just a bit of trivia that you really don’t need to know. The point here is that your domain name is your internet address–it is the locator for your company or organization. It is one of the most valuable tools in your website arsenal.

Domain names come in many varieties. They consist of up to 63 letters and/or numbers with no spaces (dashes and underlines are just fine). The top-level domain, the address you want people to point to includes an extension. The extension is the .com or .net or any other that appears directly after the domain name itself. Other popular extensions include .org, .edu, .biz, .info, .us, and .ws. Other extensions are available. I always suggest that when buying a domain name you control the top three extensions. Purchase a .com, a .net, and a .org and forward the .net and .org to the .com address. This protects you against someone undercutting your name. You only host the .com address but you control the other big names.

I always suggest some basic guidelines to my clients as we begin to choose a domain name.

  1. Keep it short and sweet
  2. Keep the name simple
  3. Your domain name choice should reflect your business

Keep it short and sweet The shorter your domain name is the better it is. I like to keep the domain name shorter than 20 characters. The one exception to this is if you choose the name of your business as the domain name, an option that is generally available but not always. By keeping the name short you lessen the possibilities of mistyping the name and losing visitors. Sweet names are easy to remember. If you have the best site in your industry and people can’t remember your domain name then you will have no visitors. Sweet names like Google, Yahoo, and eBay are examples of names that not only are easily remembered, they have become part of American English.

Keep your name simple I always urge people to avoid dashes and underlines. Avoid cute spelling unless, of course, you have outrageous branding–I’ll bet you don’t. Writewell is far better than ritewell if your site promotes better writing. The point here is that you want people to find you so follow the KISS rule–Keep it simple silly!

Your domain name choice should reflect your business If you sell widgets make sure that widgets is a part of your domain name. The same is true if you sell whirllygigs, or real estate, or mules. The point is that your domain name should, in some way, reflect the nature of your business. A photographer might choose something like sweetshots.com or photosbydesign.com as memorable domain names that reflect the photography business.

You don’t always need to come up with a new name as thousands of domain names expire every day. These names come available and there is no reason you can’t get one. There is also an active market for buying, selling and trading domain names. You might find just the one you need in that market as well. Most domain registrars have access to this marketplace and make it easy for you to shop the marketplace.

Finally, you cannot purchase a domain name that is trademarked. You can’t even have a part of your name reflect a trademark unless you have direct, explicit, written permission from the trademark holder. The best advice is to stay clear of that problem altogether.

Roger is a principal at RNS Design Group, an internet design firm specializing in small businesses and organizations. Through RNS Domains he offers Linux or Windows website hosting services, domain name registration and more.

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