Choosing Domain Names for Your BusinessAuthor: John Pawlett
Let's say that you're creating a website for Barb's Specialty Pet Products. Should the domain name be barbsspecialtypetproducts.com?
Perhaps -- but don't stop there. Having the right domain name, or domain names, can bring more traffic to your site.
Why more than one domain name?
One domain is all you need to set up a website. But with more domains directing to your site, you can have these additional benefits:
- Bring site visitors who type variations of your domain name
- Acquire traffic that might otherwise go to your competition
- Harness the marketing power of keyword domains
Your primary domain name
If it's feasible, use your business or brand name in your primary domain. People will remember it and associate it with your business. Also consider the following factors when choosing your primary domain.
Domain name extensions
Should your primary domain end with .com, .net, or .biz, or with a country-specific extension such as .ca or .co.uk?
If your website is aimed at people in a specific country, having a country-specific domain can help:
- Site visitors will recognize right away that the business has a presence in the country of the extension. They may therefore be more comfortable buying from you.
- Some country-specific search results include sites with the relevant country-specific domain extension even if the site isn't hosted in that country.
On the other hand, if you're targeting an international audience, a country-specific domain could work against you. People from outside the country of the extension may be less inclined to buy if the business looks foreign to them.
If you want to attract both people within your country and those in other countries, have both. Each domain could direct to the same site, with each audience seeing the domain intended for them. For country-specific search results, the primary domain should be the country-specific one.
Chances are that the .com domain you want is already taken. If you use the .net or .biz version, you risk having potential site visitors go to your .com competition instead. Be sure to use the full domain name on all promotional material to reduce this risk.
Domain name length
A short domain is easier to remember, it has less risk of being mistyped, and it'll fit easily on your business cards and correspondence.
Conversely, if a short name doesn't represent your business, it's more difficult for people to remember. The short names you like may already be taken anyway.
If your business name is up to three easy-to-spell words, it'll probably work as a domain name. For a longer business name, the initials or just one or two words may be easier than remembering a combination of words.
Secondary domain names
Secondary domains directing to your site are for online use:
- For people who type your primary domain name incorrectly
- For people who search for your products or services online
Typing and spelling variations
How many ways can people spell and type your business name?
Hyphens aren't recommended for your primary domain. When people tell others about your site, they're likely to omit the hyphens. They may also forget to type them.
For secondary domains, hyphens make long domains easier to read. Each word stands out when people see your domain. However, domains such as buy-keyword-product-now.com make some people view hyphenated domains, especially those with more than one hyphen, as spam-like.
Having the words in domains separated may help some search engines recognize keywords. With Google, though, hyphens don't make any difference.
Consider all of these variations for secondary domain names:
- With and without hyphens
- Different ways of spelling some words
- Singular and plural versions of nouns
- Extensions with .com and .net as well as a country-specific extension if relevant
What people search for
If you want to find the website for Time magazine, you might do a search for it, or you might try typing in time.com. If you do the latter, you'll find yourself at the Time site.
This type of search behavior extends to generic words too. Searching for dog collars? Try dogcollar.com, for example, and you'll be redirected to dogidcollar.com. Do you want life insurance? Lifeinsurance.com redirects to nmfn.com (and so does northwesternmutualfinancialnetwork.com).
While having keyword domain names may not draw a lot of site visitors, using them is a technique to consider.
How to use more than one domain
Set up your website with your primary domain, and use that domain on your correspondence and with your customers.
Point secondary domains to your site using URL forwarding (also called domain forwarding, domain redirect, or URL redirect). To have the secondary domain appear in the browser, use domain masking. You can set up these features when you log in to your account with your domain registrar (if your registrar offers these services).
With domains that are simply variations of your primary domain, you can expect additional traffic just from having set up these domains. With domains that contain keywords, you can get more from them by using them to list your site in online directories. When these domains appear in search results, searchers will see the keywords.
The next step
Once you decide on the available domains that you want, register them immediately. They might not be available tomorrow.
If you don't already have a business name, you'll find it easier to market your business online if you choose a primary domain and a business name together. If your first choice for a business name doesn't work well with any available domains, consider a business name that you can easily market with an available domain. Once you've registered that domain name and your business name, register secondary domains and put them to use.
Is it worth registering multiple domains for one site? That depends on your site, but any variations that you don't register will be available for competitors to register and use. If a domain is valuable to a competitor, it's valuable to you.
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