Master Of Your Domain: Choosing a Domain Name
If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to find your place online! And one of the very first things that you’ll have to do is establish your electronic address – your domain name. When you make a website, it must act as your storefront, your salespeople, your customer service desk, your news board, and so much more. You should treat your website just as you would treat any business, and so the ancient rule still applies: “the three most important aspects of opening a new business are location, location, and location”.
So how do you pick a domain name? There’s no fool-proof way, but we’ve compiled a list of some things you should think about here:
Domain names vs. business names
Although though your website or business and your domain name don’t necessarily need to be the same, making sure they’re similar is generally a good move. Think about how websites enter our speech, such as “Google”. Now consider how difficult it might be to find these sites if their domain names were nothing like their business name, for example if Google was found at “the-most-successful-search-engine-ever.info.”
Your domain name shouldn’t be too short or too long. It’s easy to see why you don’t want your domain name to be too long – not only do words in long domain names become difficult to read, but the domain names are also easily forgotten altogether. It may seem strange, but short names can sometimes be just as bad – especially if you use a long acronym that seems like a random collection of letters.
If the everyday web surfer was looking to buy a shirt and wanted to find info online, s/he probably would probably start at a search engine, such as google.com, and would type the name of a shop, or a kind of shop, and a location, such as “clothing store San Francisco”. S/he probably wouldn’t search for just “shirts” because s/he knows that the results won’t be what s/he’s looking for. When you’re creating your domain name, think about what your clients may type into search engine. If your domain name is made up of words that people type into their search engines, or keywords, you’re much more likely to appear near the top of their search results list, and more likely to get customers.
Ignoring the www., every domain name has two parts to it – the text before the ‘dot’, which is the main part of the domain name, and the extension after it. The extension you chose can work both for and against you. For example, imagine you’ve picked chooseadomain as your website name, but find the chooseadomain.com domain name isn’t available. You might register the chooseadomain.net domain name instead. This allows you to keep your original name, which is good, but you also run a certain risk of people typing in the more common .com suffix when they try to find your website. This can be a problem if the chooseadomain.com name belongs to one of your competitors. Consider all your options when you pick your extensions, and be sure that you specify your entire domain name when you talk about it – especially if you aren’t a .com.
|Extension||Who uses it|
|.com||Primarily commercial enterprises, but open to anyone|
|.net||Originally for Internet service providers|
|.mobi||Websites that are meant to be viewed on mobile devices, like cellphones or Blackberrys|
Once you’ve found a domain name, the next step is to make sure it’s not already registered by searching for it on Instant Domain Search. If it’s available, then just follow their link to a domain name registration and hosting site and you’ll have your very own domain in minutes!
For more advice (and great illustrations), see: How to Choose the Right Domain Name