Top Five Domain Name Selection Criteria

When it comes to picking a domain name for a business website, there are a number of criteria that can be used to measure candidates. Picking an appropriate domain name is important as the domain name is central to a company’s online identity. A deliberate and well thought out domain name can have lasting benefits for a business such as building a positive brand and generating repeat traffic. Once a domain name is registered, a business is immediately invested in that domain name since it will exist in web links that drive search engine rankings, directories that drive web traffic, included on business cards, signage and other promotional materials. This article provides the top five criteria to be applied when selecting and registering a strategic domain name for a business website.

The first criteria, which can also be viewed as a prerequisite, is to find a domain name that is available. Since domain names unambiguously identify a business online much like a phone number does offline, domain names must be unique. Many of the shorter, more desirable domain names are already in use and have a great deal of worth. These include Insurance.com, Business.com, Cooking.com and Diet.com There are lots of free tools provided by domain name registrants and web hosting companies to determine if the desired domain name is available and to suggest variations when the desired domain is already taken. It is also good practice for companies to search the online US trademark database to ensure that a potential domain name is not a registered trademark for some other business. Believe it or not, there are known instances where businesses had to surrender domain names they registered which were later discovered to violate trademarks of other companies, even though the trademark owners had not previously registered the domain name.

The second domain name selection criteria is to find a name that is related to the business name, the brand or industry. If the business has an established brand identity, then the choice of domain name should be the brand name, if available. Some of the largest ecommerce sites fall into this category, namely Amazon.com, ebay.com and craigslist.org. Their domain names are their brand names which were established over the years. However, if a business is new and does not yet have an established, widely-recognized brand identity, the domain name selected can benefit if related to the business focus. Examples of this kind of domain name include PRWeb.com, EzineArticles.com and emarketer.com, though it is unclear to the author whether these currently well-established brands were built before or after their domain names were registered. Either way, a prospective visitor can look at these domain names and get an idea of the business focus of the registered owner. Having a domain name aligned with business focus can also assist with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and increase visitors referred to the business website from search engines.

The third domain name selection criteria is based on the old adage, “less is more.” In other words, it is best to select a domain name that is as short as possible while taking into account the other selection criteria. Many suggest that ten characters or less is ideal. This can be quite a challenge with so many domain names already registered and in use over the last decade and a half. To make matters worse, many investors registered domain names for the sole purpose of markuping them and reselling them prior to their use. This practice, known as domain name parking, is based on speculation of high demand and motivated buyers for certain domain names. That said, there are still plenty of available domain names that are ten characters or less for those willing to be creative. Having a short domain name benefits the website address by reducing the number of misspellings, making it easier to remember and able to fit on business cards, stationery and signage.

The fourth domain name selection criteria is to register.com suffixes whenever possible. Most Internet users assume that commercial entities will have domain names that end in.com as opposed to.net,.biz,.tv,.us,.info, etc. Many looking for the website of a well-known company or brand will add “www.” to the company or brand name, then append “.com” to the end in attempts to navigate directly to the website of interest. Some businesses will select a popular brand or company name as their domain name “root” but register it with one a non-.com suffix since the.com domain name is already registered by the brand owner. While this approach may yield “free” traffic, conversion rates of visitors to customers will be very low as these visitors will usually abandon the website feeling misled. The same principle applies to selecting a domain name using a misspelled brand or company name.

The fifth and final domain name selection criteria is what I call “The 3Rs” – easy to Recite, Recognize and Recall. Random strings of numbers and letters make good system passwords, but horrible domain names. They are difficult to remember and nearly impossible to guess. This applies to acronyms that represent unknown brands. This is especially relevant when providing a website address to radio audiences or presentation listeners. A good domain name will enable advertisers and presenters to recite a website address to potential clients and customers who will hear and recognize the website address, then recall that address next time they are online. Domain names with word components that can be spelled in multiple ways such as “ad”, “add”, “two”, “to”, “too” should be avoided as listeners will be prone to misspell the website address when attempting to reach the business online.

Carefully selecting and registering a strategic domain name is an important step in launching an online business identity. Businesses will benefit from selecting wisely as domain names, once registered, will quickly find their way into countless materials, partner links and search engine indices that become expensive to update if changes are required. Applying these top five domain name selection criteria will enhance online identity, increase website traffic and make it easier for customers and prospects to connect with your business.

Top 7 Questions About Registering Domain Names

When it comes to domain registration, there are some questions you need to ask to ensure a successful registration. Here are some basics to guide you in purchasing your domain name for business.

What is a domain name?

Some people still get confused on the difference between URLs and domain names. Domains enable business owners to establish themselves online with a unique name. URLs on the other hand, are the addresses one gives to a browser.

A domain name contains a top-level domain, or TLD, which is located at the end – such as.com,.net, and.org. There are a wide variety of TLDs available aside from these, including country-specific names, and there are more new domains being introduced all the time. Some examples include .asia, .design, .info and more.

What is the registration cost?

Prices of domains differ between registrars, with special offers and different packages you can choose from affecting their price. Make sure you research the best service for your needs. Compare prices and check what you get with each purchase to make sure you’re getting the best value from your transactions.

Where do I purchase a domain name?

All registrars essentially have the same access to the domains you need, but service and benefits are some things you need to take a closer look into.

Should I just go for the cheapest pricing?

Although low prices are very attractive, they aren’t necessarily the only things you should look at when registering your domain. Keep in mind that although many vendors offer very affordable prices for a year-long registration, there can sometimes be hidden fees. Also, prices will get higher with add-ons and after the first year.

Is domain privacy necessary?

Registering a domain requires a Whois.com listing, a rule set by ICANN (the organisation responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of the internet namespaces). There, your contact details are visible to the public. Many spammers use such directories to compile lists of people to target with offers and scams, leaving you vulnerable to spam emails and phone calls.

Many domain vendors offer privacy features, where instead of your contact information, a proxy will be listed to avoid spam. We recommend you use this service to ensure your private information isn’t easily found online.

What are some other things I need to take note of?

It’s very important that you renew your domain to avoid having it snatched up by somebody else. Many people forget to renew their domains, and lose them to others who can either refuse to sell or ask for much higher prices. This results in loss of business and contact with customers.

Once the expiry date looms close, you will be notified, so make sure that you renew your domain on time. Different registrars have policies on grace periods and fees so make sure to look into that, too.

I’ve registered my domain – what’s next?

The company where you registered may offer web hosting services so you should look into it to make sure it has what you need for your website.

If your domain provider doesn’t offer web hosting you can take advantage of it somewhere else.

The same advice applies to website builder, through which you can create your website.

These top questions on how to register domain names and their answers will help you in your own registration journey. Remember that the most important thing is to find a registrar that fits what you’re looking for and you’re all set.