Choosing The Ideal Domain Name for Your Business
When choosing the ideal domain name for your business, there’s a lot to think about. With millions of websites on the internet, finding the best domain name for your company can be challenging. We’ve put together these tips to help you get a good one in a short amount of time and avoid the pitfalls that could leave you with a domain name headache.
For instance, it’s great to find a short domain that’s easy to remember and describes your business, but, much like the unicorn, it’s usually very difficult to find a short domain name that hasn’t been already bought. If it’s for sale, there’s a good chance it’ll cost a lot of money, and if your budget for starting a business is tight, you may not be able to afford that perfect domain name.
But before we go there, let’s talk about the extensions, i.e., .com, .net, .org – what’s best?
- .com stands for “commercial,” and is the most common extension in use today. It’s familiar and easy to remember. Regular businesses try to find domain names that fits them using the .com.
- .net means “network,” and it used to be for networked sites, but it’s gained in popularity behind .com because sometimes you can get your preferred domain name using the .net extension if the .com one isn’t available.
- .org is for “organization,” and is often used by non-profit agencies or other not-for-profit entities. If it’s important that your company not be confused as an organization, don’t buy a domain name using this extension.
Now that we have that out of the way, how can you find a good domain name for your business?
Where to Start to Find the Best Domain Name for Your Company
What many people may not think about when starting their search for the right domain is in the legal world. Depending upon your business, there may be trademark or patent issues with the domain name you want to use. Domain names are not intellectual property, but if you deliberately try to get a domain that is very similar to a trademarked brand for instance, don’t be surprised if that organization’s legal department contacts you. It’s tempting to try to get traffic based on a similar name, but if you get into a long legal battle that drains your finances and negatively impacts your company’s reputation, is it really worth it?
You can begin your search at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) trademark database. You can also just do a general search in any search engine to see if there’s already a business name or domain name that’s trademarked. If you haven’t chosen a business name or incorporated yet, you’ll also need to do a search on the state database where you’re incorporating to make sure you can get that name.
Choosing The Ideal Domain Name for Your Business – Check The Availability
You can always go to web hosting companies such as GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Bluehost, FatCow, or StartLogic to see if your preferred domain is available. Simply plug in your desired domain with the extension you want – .com, .net, .org, etc., and you’ll get results instantly.
Are you searching for expired domain names that fit your business? If you have your eye on an existing domain name, and can afford to wait, there are domain name services that will let you know when a domain is expiring. This doesn’t mean the current owner will let the name lapse, but you might want to make an offer to buy the name if it means that much to you. Network Solutions is a good place to start.
Make Sure the Domain Name You Choose Hasn’t Been Blacklisted or Penalized by Google
Google doesn’t publish or make available the list of banned or blacklisted domains. However, you can check the Wayback machine to see what kind of content the domain used to host. One of our SEO colleagues told us the story of a client who did a total rebranding that included getting a domain name that very accurately described their service. It cost a lot of money, and upon relaunch, the site failed to get any traffic. Eventually, one of the SEO personnel plugged the new domain name into the Wayback machine and discovered offensive content on the site in a previous iteration. It was safe to say the domain had a Google penalty on it.
Don’t Restrict Your Domain Name Geographically Unless You Have To!
If you’re confident your business will remain in one place for as long as you can imagine, and you’ll rely on physical visitors, it might make sense to include your city, but if you sell your products and services around the U.S. and/or the world, don’t include a location.
Is Choosing a Keyword Phrase That Describes Your Business as A Domain Name a Good Idea?
This is not a great idea, as Google has levied algorithmic penalties in the past against exact match domain/partial match domain (EMD/PMD) names. It might be better to choose a domain name that brands your business with the company name.
Our SEO colleagues tells us of yet another story about a person who wrote and sold an eBook online that dealt with cat litter box issues. She used a highly trafficked keyword phrase for the domain. All went well for about five years, with the site ranking consistently on page one for the phrase and associated words, but when Google came out with the EMD/PMD penalty, and the site lost 50% of its traffic and revenue. Two years later, the author gave up the ghost and shut the site down.
There are a lot of factors that influence getting the right domain name for your business. Think long and hard and be sure that the domain name you choose is one you can live with for as long as you operate your company. If you find you need some assistance, contact the SEO professionals at Kraus Marketing today!