There are many things that come to a web designer’s mind when it comes to designing a website. In addition, if he/she has total responsibility of the project, he/she has to give the site a catchy domain name too. Many people think this part isn’t important. If you fall in this category consider yourself very wrong. A domain name is as equally important as a company name, a Facebook page or the site itself. A catchy domain name will, most of the time, bring in more traffic whilst making your website more memorable among users.
Finding the perfect domain name for your site can be a sort of challenging experience in today’s worldwide web. Many of the domain names out there are either already in use or bought by another individual or company. These include the ones you just scribbled down on your notepad. Often you will find that web designers spend more time coming up with a domain name than actually designing a website.
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1. What’s your brand?
Most professionals agree that branding is one of the things that can make or break you in business. Every organization has a brand. This brand represents them in every essence: name, visual identity, color schemes and logo. However, this doesn’t mean that every company is branded. The difference between those that do and don’t is in their brand awareness.
A company that has invested in brand awareness usually relies heavily on their customer’s ability to recognize and remember their brand at relevant times. Brand awareness is basically about customers’ satisfaction and recognition of a product. It is the difference between Coca-Cola and some newbie no-name Cola company, the difference between Apple and an unknown Taipei-based tablet manufacturer, etc.
Ten years back, things were different. Today if you own a company and want it to have a powerful brand, knowledge of domain names should be at your fingertips. Your name speaks for you. It is your address. You don’t want people coming over and hating what they find.
2. The extension
Most people use either one of the following extensions: .com, .org and .net. Any one of these extensions is ideal for your business. An extension such as .tk might not be a smart move. Sometimes, your visitors can forget your site and try and guess the domain name while using those 3 extensions. I do this, my friends do this, heck, my mother too. The assumption is that any a business I am interested in would go for one of the extensions mentioned above. These 3 extensions are so popular that 90% of the time visitors expect any one of the 3 used on a certain website.
Some providers offer all 3 extensions at discounted prices. This purchasing option could give you great advantages in future. It is a smart move that will put you ahead of your competition.
Another advantage you will reap from using all 3 (or either of the 3) is that they are really affordable. There is also customer support easily available for all of them. People say it is more difficult to find a service provider that does not sell them than one who does.
It may sound like I am pushing you to go for these 3 and these 3 alone. That is not the case. WordPress co-founder, Matt Mullenweg, chose a smart domain name for himself: www.ma.tt. This is a Trinidad & Tobago domain, but you will find that it fits his name perfectly. If you too can work out some smart wizardry with your domain name, then go for it! However, keep in mind that most people who aren’t really familiar with the web don’t really know anything else apart from .NET, .COM, and .ORG.
You should give this section on extensions more thought. Choosing the domain name extension should an easy task that will bring you one step toward creating an even more powerful brand. But wait, there is more.
3. Where are you?
Aside from extensions, location is another aspect you may consider thinking about. This factor is dependent on your business and its goal. It is also dependent on your target audience and their behavior. A Danish organization, which targets only Danes, that has a website ending in .com leaves a lot for us to ponder on seeing as it would be more sensible to have a .dk extension instead. Every country has its own domain extension. Top Level Domains (TLDs) are not the only ones you can go for.
Those who use TLDs are individuals and local companies in the respective country. You can view a complete list of worldwide TLDs on Wikipedia. An obvious fact is that some of these TLDs require you to either have a permit of residence or a company registered in the respective country. Registering your domain name may not be as easy. But, you could always look into what tricks Matt pulled.
It is also a suitable option for those targeting non-English speaking such as Arabian or Asian countries; or Russia. These ones are called Internationalized Domain Names or IDNs. These should only be used to complement an address ending in .com or any other TLD. If you don’t do this, you will confuse your English-speaking visitors.
People usually decide to use hacks because they are your best bet to finding a domain name that suits your company then find that it is taken. This can be incredibly frustrating and is something you should expect during your name search. Finding the one’ for you is going to be challenging, but hacks can help.
5. Going to buy
You think you just found your domain name and you are ready to buy it, right? Wrong! One more step. It is time to ensure your domain name does not create any legal issues. Ensure you haven’t stolen it from another company running a similar business.
Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft is one of the most popular legal disputes concerning domain name infringement. 10 years ago Mike Rowe went head to head with the tech giant because the two domain names resonated with each other.
Applying for trademarks is something big companies do. A small business owner may consider brushing this off as it can blow up in your face very easily.
6. WHOIS services
A common mistake many people make is registering their domain names under the WHOIS privacy service. This can be very dangerous. When you make register under this service, your contact details are hidden. The fields that should be filled with your name are replaced with your provider’s name instead. This is dangerous because, according to policies, the details filled in are those of the OWNER of the domain.
This means that when your website gets hacked, you can’t prove this allegation.
A good domain name improves your users’ experience. It also makes it less likely that they will forget who you are.
An important thing to note would be that TLDs actually help your search engine indexing. A .com extension is likely to be indexed much quicker than an .ru extension. Pay attention to your domain name and choose something that is for your audience and not just for you.
How do you search for a domain? Has any of you paid for a domain via auction? Do you think a domain matters? Is there just one way of properly registering a domain? Leave all your comments below and let’s help each other navigate this domain ground.