- Think of easy to remember, short keywords, that describe your business. Typically, the best domain names are simply the name of the company or a shortened version. For example www.UnitedWay.org is an obvious for United Way, but www.UW.org is also very usable and shorter. But the website’s name does not have to be limited to your company’s name. You can also use a URL that describes the products and/or services that you specialize in. Try to keep it as simple as possible, so that customers can easily remember it. For example, when Caffe Capri wanted an online home for their trendy little Italian restaurant, Caffe Capri was not an available option. They also spell it uniquely, so that can bring its own challenges also. Instead of searching for a version of their company name, they found a good fit at www.ThePlaceForItalian.com.
- Use your native language, English for US-based businesses – For example, if you sell shoes, your prospects may not connect chaussures.com to what you do.
- Use geography to further personalize the name – Sometimes multiple companies may be using the same name, ACME Concrete. So if that’s your company name and ACMEconcrete.com is not available, you could try ACMEconcreteTX.com if you service the state or ACMEconcreteDFW.com if you service the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metro Area.
- If you can’t get the “.com” try other extensions – There are many other extensions available including .biz and .info, but for businesses a .net or a .us is still a good fit. Although all of those Top Level Domain (TLD) categories are open to business, personal, non-profits, and everything in between, .org is still a great choice for non-profits, clubs, and other associations.
- Try buying already owned domain names – There is a secondary market for domain names. Just because they are not available through the traditional registrars does not mean that cannot be purchased. So if your domain is owned, but not being used, try a secondary market company like www.Snap.com or look for a “this domain for sale” tag on the holding page. Purchasing names this way can cost anywhere from $60 if you get lucky, to over $1 million for top sellers. It all depends on the quality of the domain.
- No special characters allowed – Domain names have to be at least two characters long and cannot contain symbols such as “$”, “#”, “_” or “@”. You can however use a dash “-“ which can come in handy when you have letters than can run together like www.business-smarts.com
- Use WHOIS to find out who owns your most coveted names – Similar to the way a community tax roll shows who owns a piece of real estate, WHOIS shows who owns domain names. You can use this contact information to inquire about your ideal .com. Be aware that it is a seller’s market though. They might ask considerably higher than what you think it may be worth. But it is worth a shot for that right name.
- Make sure it can grow with you – If you know that your business model will grow, adapt, or otherwise change over the years, look for something that will be universal. For example Bohen Crane and Equipment Repair, LLC was not able to purchase www.Bohen.com. Next they looked at www.BohenCrane.com as that was their primary business model. But they were currently in the process of adding a new heavy equipment division. Knowing this change was already coming gave them the advantage to pick something that could grow with them over the years. The company also does work worldwide, so when they settled on www.Bohen.us, it was the perfect fit. Flexible as they grew and representative of their US headquarters, where most of their clients come from.
- Do not for get to renew! – All domain names expire. So be aware and set reminders on multiple calendars to check your domain at least once a year. Check the WHOIS information and make sure it is accurate. If you have a domain that you know you will have for a long time, protect it. You can register domains for up to 10 years. At around $10 per year, that is cheap insurance to make sure you do not lose it. It is key to your online business and can be unrecoverable if lost.
written by David Ohendalski