If you’re like many businesses, you understand the importance of having a dedicated website for your business. Having a place where your customers can find essential info about your products or services is a great way to generate leads and build awareness for your company.
If you’re thinking about putting together a website, you already know there’s a lot of planning you need to do. From putting together a budget to researching different platforms, to getting management’s approval, building a website can be a daunting process.
Part of this process is choosing a domain name for your website that accurately describes your business. As simple as it may seem, it’s an easy step to overlook and can have a severe impact on the success of your website. To get you started on the right foot, we put together a detailed guide.
What is a domain name?
For those of you who aren’t exactly sure what a domain name is, here’s a crash course. A domain name is simply the address a user types into the Universal Research Locator (URL) to access your website. Its used to uniquely identify a website and provide an easy to understand name users can recognize.
In basic terms, websites are simply files that are stored on computers across the internet. These files are accessed by IP addresses that are specific to each computer. These addresses are comprised of a long string of numbers and other characters that allow your computer to identify and access a website.
To make accessing websites easier for users across the web, domain names were created to help eliminate headaches and provide easy to recognize names for users. They follow a simple naming method and are registered to an owner or a company.
Common naming methods?
Domain names are made up of three main components that allow users and computers to accurately identify them during a search. As you know, most websites look something like “www.name.com”. With a traditional “www.” at the beginning, “name” in the middle, and “.com” at the end. Let’s break down what each of these mean and look at some common variations.
The mid-level domain of a website usually relates to the company name or owner. Like “name” it usually features an easily recognizable brand name that customers are familiar with. It comes before the machine name and is followed by the top-level domain.
Machine names allow computers to identify what specific source your website stems from. For almost all websites available today www is the most common form. It notifies the user that the website is available on the web and not just on a private computer server.
The top-level domain of your website signifies what type of website you have. There are three common forms that allow users to differentiate between commercial, government, and network sites.
“.gov” domains are reserved for government organizations like the military and other non-profit websites. Users are required to have special permission to register with this top-level domains and requires an approval process.
“.com” domains are used for commercial websites. Even if your website isn’t used for e-commerce or selling products directly to customers, changes are your domain will fall into this category. Common examples of sites with “.com” domains include small businesses, churches, manufacturers, and even most non-profit organizations.
“.edu” domains allow users to find schools on the web. Whether it’s your local elementary school or university, “.edu” names are used for schools and institutions.
Understanding the composition of domain names is the first step to choosing a domain name that’s best for your business. Most likely your domain name will include a traditional www. with your company name and a .com at the end. It’s as simple as that!
Tips & Tricks
So far we’ve gone over what a domain name is, and the nomenclature behind many of today’s URLs. To get you started on the right foot of choosing the perfect domain for your business, we’ve also put together our top tips & tricks.
Short & Sweet
Have you ever gone to www.ThisIsMyReallyLongWebsiteNameYouLove.com? Yeah, probably not. Why? Because its overly complicated, hard to understand, and even harder to memorize. To keep things easy for your customers, try limiting the mid-level domain of your site to something that’s easy to memorize and to the point. Some of our clients use the initials of their company name and even have names unique to their URL.
LLC, LLP, Inc
If the domain name of your company is already taken by someone else, sometimes branding it with legal nomenclature can help you create a custom domain. Adding LLC, LLP, or even Inc to the end of your brand name is a great way to distinguish yourself and let visitors know what kind of business you have.
Buy Multiple Domains
As crazy as it sounds, many businesses today buy multiple domain names that closely relate to the one they are using for their website. To prevent competitors and other companies from ranking with domain names that closely relate to theirs, companies are purchasing up domains that look strikingly similar to theirs and simply refrain from using them.
For instance, if your website is www.myname.com You might buy several variations of that name so that other users do not mistakenly or maliciously purchase these names and steal your organic traffic. Examples include:
Its highly unlikely this will happen but if you are forced to buy your domain name for a significant amount of money, you may want to take steps to secure it.
Registering Through A Provider
To have a domain name for your website, you need to search for and register your domain with a provider. Like the license plate on your car, not two domain names are allowed to be the same. To find out if the domain you are looking for is available, you can perform a simple search through a provider like GoDaddy.
After performing this search, the provider (GoDaddy in this case) will inform you if the domain is available and provide you will simple alternatives as well. Prices of domains range from a few dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the specific name. If your name is already taken you can arrange to buy it from the owner at a mutually agreed price.
Once you’ve found a domain name that fits your business, it needs to be registered with ICANN (The governing body of the internet). Many providers will take care of submitting this process for a simple fee, but if your provider does not or if you want to learn more, you can find a detailed list of steps here.
Choosing the perfect domain name for your business isn’t easy. From understanding different naming guidelines to ensuring proper registration, choosing the right domain name can have lasting effects on your business. We’ve helped dozens of clients build websites from scratch and navigate the treacherous process of choosing a domain.
If you’re building a website and aren’t sure where to start, Think VIG!