What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to names for business websites, it could be everything. The domain you choose for your site, whether it’s just for a blog or for your business, is more than jut the ‘address’ people use to find it. It could be the first chance you have to make an impression on a potential reader or customer; or, if you’re thinking about search engine optimisation, it could even decide whether you rank towards the first page of the search results, or way back in the wastelands of page 14. Purchasing a domain name is a simple and inexpensive thing to do, but buying the right name for your website may take time and money if you really want to get it right.
Your Business Name & Your Brand
For the majority of people who buy a domain for their business, the name of the website will be the name of their company or brand – and in most cases this is all well and good, and relatively straightforward. But what if your brand is a relatively common word or phrase? What if there are other companies (albeit in a completely different industry) that share the same name as yours? If they got to the party first you may find that the perfect domain for your new business or blog is already taken. If you’re not too hung up on the name of your site, you could look around an find another domain that is available and that you’re equally happy with – but if you do want a particular name or phrase, all is not lost.
If your first choice domain name isn’t available, you basically have a couple of choices; you either try and buy the domain you want, or you choose a different domain. The first of these options can get expensive, as we’ll see later on, but if you’re prepared to be a bit creative, you could find an available domain that suits your needs. Look at combining your company and brand name is some way – it’s less likely that you have both of these in common with another business. Look at using hyphens in your domain. This is especially useful if you’re really attached to a phrase, but there are downsides to bear in mind.
Try and keep the number of hyphens to a minimum, and you probably don’t want to have more than two or three in your domain name. The whole point of having a brand-led domain is that its easy for people to remember, and tell other people about – if there are too many hyphens and it’s easy to get them in the wrong place, your domain might end up losing you more customers than it attracts. You can add a limited number of other characters into your domain name, like underscores for example, but as a general rule, hyphens are usually the only commonly accepted symbol for a website address.
As well as getting creative with how you arrange the words you want in your domain name, you can also widen your options by considering alternative domain extensions. There are dozens of different domain extensions (the part after the dot, like .com for example) and while there are some commonly accepted ‘top level domains’ (TLDs), if you’re prepared to look at the other TLDs that are available (particularly all the new ones that will soon be available), you might find that you can have your ideal website address after all. The most common international TLDs include .com, .net and .org, but if these aren’t available, there’s no reason why you couldn’t go for a .info or a .biz, or anything else for that matter. It was previously thought that the more common TLDs provided additional benefits for your website when it came to Search Engine Optimisation, but this seems to becoming less of a consideration as SEO becomes more sophisticated.
Buying a Domain
If the domain name you want has already been registered by someone else, you might be able to buy it from them, just as you might buy a business location in the real world – but be warned. Trading in domain names has become big business, and depending on the domain, and how popular it is likely to be, it could cost hundreds of thousands to get the domain you want.
If it’s owned by someone who registered it for themselves but simply hasn’t got round to using it, or doesn’t need it any more as their business has changed, you can always get in touch with them to see if they are prepared to sell it. If you’re able to negotiate a price you’re both happy with, transferring the domain from one organisation to another isn’t too difficult, and you can even use a service like escrow.com to make sure the process goes smoothly. If, on the other hand, the domain you want is being sold or auctioned by one of the big domain registrars like GoDaddy, you might have to compete with other bidders to secure your website name; and if it’s being offered for sale by an independent domain broker, the price may be even higher – but don’t be afraid to offer them less than they’re asking, as the domain is no good to them unless they can sell it.
So there you have it, some information and tips that, no matter what kind of website you’re looking to set up, should help you find the domain you’re looking for.