Purchase A Domain Name
So you've decided that you need a website for your business. Now it's time to purchase a domain name. Your domain name is your business' calling card, so make sure that it represents you well and is easy to remember.
- Choose a domain name that is easy to type
- Keep it Short
- Use the keywords that describe your business
- Target your local area
- Avoid numbers and hyphens
- Make it Catchy
- Make sure it's not trademarked or copyrighted
- Choose a domain extension that fits
- Purchase various domains and extensions
- Choose where you're going to buy the domain name
Not all domains are created equal and taking the time to pick the one that is right for you is essential to starting off on the right foot.
1. Choose a Domain Name that is easy to type
It's critical that your domain name is easy to type. If you're using slang or a misspelling it'll be harder for customers to find your website. The same is true for words that could be spelled differently. Think CleanersForU vs CleanersForYou or even CleanersFourYou, we're saying the same thing but unless you want to purchase all of these variations (and I wouldn't) then it's best to think of something better.
2. Keep it Short
Keep the domain name short. The longer the domain name, the more easily someone will mistype it when trying to get to your website. Domains can be from 1 to 63 characters and they can include a hyphen, but not at the end or beginning. If you want a four letter domain name, you're out of luck, as they've all been purchased already.
3. Use the keywords that describe your business
So we know that the domain is going to be at least five characters, but probably more. We know that it'll be shorter than 63 characters and it should be easy to type. Now pick the best keywords that describe your business. Say you're a carpet cleaner, you could go with CarpetCleaners, right? Well, not exactly. A number of domains will have already been purchased so you'll need to choose something a little more unique. Though at the time of this writing you could buy CarpetCleaners.com, it'll just cost you $99,999 plus the first year of registration. (Source: GoDaddy )
4. Target your Local Area
Targeting your local area with your domain name will help. Not only will it be easier to remember, it should be fairly easy to type for anyone living in the area. At the time of this writing, CarpetCleanersLakewood.com and CarpetCleanersColorado.com are both available. One allows you to target a specific city you may work with, the other the entire state. Both are great choices, and as a carpet cleaner that services the greater Denver area, I might actually pick up both.
5. Avoid numbers and hyphens
Just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should do something. In the case of buying a domain name, numbers and hyphens are legal characters to use. Going back to our earlier example, Cleaners4U could easily get our customers lost when trying to find us. And hyphens are just as dangerous. Carpet-Cleaners-Colorado.com is going to be a lot harder for people to remember than CarpetCleanersColorado.com.
6. Make it Catchy
CarpetCleanersColorado.com isn't catchy, but it's an available domain name and it covers your service area. So why does it need to be catchy? Rememberability! You want to stand out with your domain name and not seem so generic. Try adding a specific keyword for your service to the name. Does your carpet cleaning business offer steam cleaning, or maybe you consider yourself the doctor of carpet cleaning? There are so many ideas here, I'm sure you can think of something specific to you.
7. Make sure its not trademarked or copyrighted
Just because a domain name is available doesn't mean you should buy it. Wait, I've said this before. Buying a domain name doesn't protect you from trademarks or copyrights. Say for instance that GoDaddy.club was available, you couldn't purchase it and operate a business on the domain name as it's still protected under trademark law. You can check out if a name is covered by using the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. You'll want to remember these four things when it comes to domains and trademarks:
- If the name is identical to another business, it could be protected.
- Descriptive trademarks that are memorable through sales and marketing can be protected.
- If two or more trademarks can confuse customers about the product, service, or company they're dealing with, the first commercial trademark owner has priority.
- In the event of infringement, you may have to forfeit the domain name and pay the trademark owner damages.
Once you have found your domain name and purchased it, you'll want to trademark the name if you haven't already done that. Know that you can't buy a trademarked domain name with the intent to sell it to a trademark owner, that's cyber-squatting and it's illegal. Cyber-squatting is a form of extortion and is heavily protected under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA).
8. Choose a domain extension that fits
GoDaddy as a domain registrar has nearly 500 Top Level Domains (TLD's) to choose from and picking the right one can be easy. Most people and companies will opt for purchasing a .com. It's the most common and recognized. But that doesn't mean that your company or idea doesn't fit many of the other Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD's) that exist. In the example earlier, you could purchase ColoradoCarpet.cleaning and it would be a perfectly valid domain name to have and host your company website on. You're probably wondering if it'll have an impact on searches and the quick answer is, No. They aren't treated any differently than a .com or .org (Source: Google ).
There are extensions you may wish to avoid as they were highly used for SPAM and may affect the perception your audience has of you. These TLD's are, but not limited to, '.zip', '.review', '.biz', and '.info' (Source: SEMRush). All alternative TLD's aren't bad and many could make your domain name more meaningful.
9. Purchase various domains and extensions
Once you've purchased a domain name, it can be important to protect your brand. Consider purchasing multiple domain extensions (TLD's) to prevent competitors from registering them, as well as commonly misspelled versions of your domain name. This'll insure that you can direct all of your customers to your website. Don't worry about needing to build a website for each domain that you build, you can actually forward any additional domains to your primary website. Even if the extra domain(s) only send 1 additional person to your website per year, it'd be worth every penny.
10. Choose where you're going to buy the domain name
Choosing where you're going to buy your domain names is equally as important as what domain name you're going to purchase. To do this, you'll want to buy a domain name from a Domain Registrar. A Domain Registrar is a 3rd party company that has been given permission by the ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to modify the information stored in the central Registry. The Registry is a database that contains all the information about a domain name in one location. The information includes the owners name, address, and IP information for the domain. The Domain Name Registrar is also in charge of the tools and features available to you to keep the information about your domain up to date.
Not all Domain Name Registrars are created equal. Some may require you to buy the domain for a longer period and some won't support all domain extensions. Each Registrar also has the ability to sell you a domain along side other services like hosting or secure certificates, which could make the domain purchase free or super cheap.
Domains do expire and its best to have them on Auto-Renewal. If a domain does expire, it'll become available to the general public for purchase on a first-come first-service basis. If your domain expired, expect that you'll have some additional fee's to renew it unless you catch it fairly quickly after it has expired. Domains must be freely available to the public within 45 days of expiration, this is an ICANN rule and a Registrar cannot ignore it. Good registrars will notify you long before your domain expires and they'll keep notifying you after its expired. If your domain information is out of date, you could miss these but understand that it's your duty to keep the information on your domain up to date and a failure to do so could result in the loss of the domain before it even expires.
Personally, I choose GoDaddy for all of my Domain Registration needs. I find their management portal to be easy to use. They also notify me regularly about updating my domain information and about upcoming expirations. I also get my hosting from them and its really nice to have both my domain names and hosting in the same place whenever I need to do something with them. GoDaddy's policy on expiring domains really seems to be there to help those that have billing problems or have just plain lost the emails. They'll notify you within the 30 days before and 30 days after expiration, including 6 emails after expiration, then you can still renew your domain and re-secure it! (Source: GoDaddy)
I personally own over 50 domains and thought about each one from each of the perspectives above before purchasing them. I've never lost a domain I wanted to keep and always pay attention to emails I get on keeping their information up to date. Most of my domains are businesses that I'd love to some day create, some are just for fun. If you have any questions when you're ready to purchase a domain name, drop me a line , I'm here to help.