So you’ve chosen your business name, maybe even registered it, and now you’re coming to Tech and Photo Essentials to get a start on your website and online presence. The first question we are going to ask you is, what domain do you want to use? This can be a loaded question – but hopefully the information here will help you make the best decision. You should always take your time to decide – we can start building your site without a domain, and add the domain before your website goes live.
Consult with family and friends so that you have a sounding board for how your domain name sounds and looks, and so that they can point out things you may not notice (like if your domain can be read a different way that might detract from your purpose). While you’re debating your options, keep our tips in mind:
Avoid spelling issues
There’s a LOT to be said for having a domain name you can just tell people, without needing to spell it every time. Especially if you’re also going to have email at your domain, because you often give an email address out verbally or over the phone. If you use words in your domain that can be spelled more than one way (for example, Crystal can also be spelled Cristal, Chrystal, Krystal, Kristal) then you open up the possibility of customers mistyping your web address. A person’s brain will see the word spelled the way they’re used to… even if it’s right in front of them. If you plan to buy up every domain that is a potential misspelling of yours, you can minimize this – but that gets expensive! Better to make sure there are no words in your domain that can be spelled in multiple ways.
Want a really good reason why this point is so important? Have you ever typed a web address incorrectly and ended up at a page full of spammy links? Links that at first glance seem to be related to what you’re looking for, but actually all link to scams or resellers or the like? This is commonplace – some individuals buy up “misspelled” domain names and “park” them for the sole purpose of catching those who mistype an address. The spam links on the page are auto-generated based on what was typed in the address bar. The fewer ways there are to spell your domain, the less likely it is your customers will end up at one of these parked ad pages.
Don’t make it too long
The obvious reason for this is, of course, the longer your web address the higher the chance of your customer making a typing error. But there’s more. This is my own personal opinion, but I believe really long domain names don’t look nice on your business cards or other literature – whether you’re displaying an email address or a website address, a shorter domain looks more professional. To me, a longer web address usually shows up when someone is using a free service for their site and they’re stuck as a subdomain of that service.
For myself, I would apply this tip to “extra” domains that you buy. In my opinion your main web address should be your business name, or derived from your business name. But you can register as many domains as you want and point them all to your one website. For example, if you were running an online store selling balloons, you might register balloonstore.com or balloonsonline.com or maybe buyballoons.com. These coincide with search terms people might enter when looking for sources of balloons, so pointing these domains to your site can increase your chances of being found through a Google search. You can also consider including your city or province in your extra domains for people searching for local sources of your product.
Avoid numbers, hyphens and other punctuation
Punctuation and numbers in a domain name are too often misunderstood — people who hear your website address don’t know if you’re using a numeral (5) or it’s spelled out (five) or they misplace or forget the hyphen, or replace the hyphen with an underscore. You can verbally clarify but speaking from experience, it’s annoying and time-consuming to have to do this every time you give out your web address or email address. If you need these in your domain, register several different variations to be safe. (ie. both balloon-store.com and balloon_store.com)
Use the right domain name extension
Extensions are suffixes, such as .COM or .NET, at the end of Web addresses. These can have specific uses, so make sure to choose one that works for your business. .COM is far and away the most popular, but here are some other top extensions and how they’re often used:
- .ca : a Canadian website
- .co : an abbreviation for company, commerce, and community
- .info : informational sites
- .net : technical, Internet infrastructure sites
- .org : non-commercial organizations and non-profits
- .biz : business or commercial use, like ecommerce sites
- .me : blogs, resumes or personal sites
If you’re worried about your online identity, you can register your domain with each and every extension. A good example of where this is useful: In the last few years the extension “.xxx” was introduced. Many businesses do not want adult content associated with their name so they will actually purchase the “.xxx” version of their domain to prevent that from happening. It’s also common for Canadian businesses to buy both “.com” and “.ca” so they can still get the customers that type in the wrong extension. If you buy more than one extension, you don’t need to build a separate website for each one. Just forward all of the additional domains to your primary website.
Protect your name and brand
As previously mentioned, to protect your brand, you can purchase various domain extensions, as well as misspelled versions or alternate spellings of your domain name. This prevents competitors from registering other versions and ensures your customers are directed to your website, even if they mistype it.