What You Will Learn

- why you need a domain name
- why the right domain name is important to your business
- how to choose the most effective domain name for your business
- how to choose the best variations of your domain name (even if you already own a domain name)
- where to buy and host a domain name
- domain name terminology

Why Buy a Domain Name?

A memorable domain name is a valuable asset for your business. It will allow people to find your Web site more easily, but more importantly, it establishes you as a serious business owner, not a starving wannabe or even a shady character!

I’m always dismayed to see small businesses trying to establish themselves online with domain names that obviously came with a free hosting account. They have URL’s like geocities.com/seattletowing or members.shaw.ca/giftbaskets. URL’s like these immediately mark these businesses as “struggling, not likely to survive.”

If this is you, please go and buy a good domain name right away! People like to do business with companies they believe are successful. And on the Web, you can look successful quite easily. That’s how most of us started online. We looked successful long before we became successful, and nobody was any the wiser.

Probably the cheapest thing you will buy for your business is its domain name! Please don’t try to save $5.99 USD a year by using the URL provided by a free hosting account.

IMPORTANT: People think they can’t use their own domain name if they’re using free hosting space on their local ISP. This is not true! A domain name can be parked with the registrar and pointed at any other URL on the Internet.

Tip: Domain names are bought from domain name “registrars.” Later in this article I’ll tell you which registrars sell inexpensive domain names.

What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple when it comes to domain names. If you could choose any old domain name and have your Web site “smell as sweet,” there wouldn’t be people buying and selling domain names for thousands of dollars!

So, how do you choose the right domain name?

Let’s pretend our business is called Smith & Sons Towing Company and we’re located in Seattle, Washington, USA.

1. Always buy your full company/business name, if you can. The “&” sign cannot be used in domain names. We need to replace it with “and,” so we’ll buy smithandsonstowingcompany.com.

2. Then buy the nickname or short version you usually go by. In our case, smithandsonstowing.com. If we can get smithandsons.com, we will buy that, too, but it’s not likely we’ll find that still available.

Tip: Buy whatever versions of your company name that you can find as a .com. Don’t worry about any other extensions like .net or .org. If you can’t find your business name as a .com, then look for your country extension. Example: smithandsonstowing.ca, smithandsonstowing.co.uk.

If you are a charity, you can also buy the .org version. If you are a telecommunications company, you can also buy the .net version. Forget any other extensions like .biz, .info, etc.

If you can ONLY get the .org or .net versions of your company name, buy them, but be aware that this is not the best choice. Everyone types .com at the end of a domain name automatically. In our hypothetical case, customers may end up at a dead end or on someone else’s Web site if they type in smithandsonstowing.COM and we bought smithandsonstowing.NET!

3. Buy keyword-rich domain names. In addition to buying our company name, we need to help people find our Web site when they don’t know our business by name. One good option is to buy some keyword-rich domain names like seattletowingcompany.com and seattle-towing-company.com. If we buy both versions we can keep the competition from buying a similar domain name to ours. Also, search engines will read the version with hyphens as separate words, which will help drive traffic to our Web site.

But first, to find the best keyword-rich domain names we need to know what people are using to search for companies like ours. A free tool to use to locate this information is WordTracker.com.

When we do a search on “towing,” we get too many generic terms and too many other cities. When we do a search on “seattle towing,” we see that the top number of searches are actually for “towing seattle.” If we can scoop the domain names towingseattle.com and towing-seattle.com, we’ve done our business a great service. If we can’t, we’ll try to keep the same word order, but buy a longer domain name, like a1-towing-seattle.com or aaa-towing-seattle.com.

4. Buy domain names that come near the beginning of the alphabet. Why would we choose “A1″ or “AAA,” instead of “fast,” “best,” “cheap,” etc. as the first word in our keyword-rich domain name? Because, if we have the choice, we should try to get a domain name that falls as close to the beginning of the alphabet as possible. A1 and AAA both mean “best,” but they put us at the top of any towing directory online, whereas, “best” does not.

Note: Numbers come before all letters in an alphabetical directory listing. So 123towingcompany.com will be listed before aaatowingcompany.com.

Tip: If your domain name doesn’t start with a “A” or with a number, buy one that does. Then use that domain name as your business name for online directories you advertise in. This will put you at the top of the list alphabetically.

5. Buy the plural or singular of words in your domain name that people are likely to type incorrectly. So, if your company name is Adventure Cruise Company and your short domain name is adventureCRUISE.com, also buy adventureCRUISES.com!

6. Avoid confusing spelling in your domain name. Example: If your company name is Logic Computer Company, don’t spell “logic” with a zero instead of an “oh” in your domain name. If you cannot get your actual company name, choose a keyword-rich domain name instead.

7. Avoid odd hyphenation. Hyphenate all or none of the words in your domain name (buy both versions). In our case, a1towingseattle.com and a1-towing-seattle.com are both better domain names than a1-towingseattle.com. The only reason to buy domain names with odd hyphenation would be to keep the competition from buying them.

8. Look for short, memorable domain names. Short domain names are scarce, but not impossible to find. People will remember a short domain name better and they will make fewer mistakes when typing it. For instance, ablewebs.com is better than ablewebswebdesigncompany.com.

Tip: Visually, a long domain name is better when hyphenated: able-webs-web-design-company.com. If I had to buy a long domain name, I would buy it with and without hyphens, and I would use the hyphenated version on my business cards, letterhead, advertising, etc.

9. Capitalize the first letter of each word when you put your URL on any advertising media, including your email signature, classified ads, business cards, letterhead, etc. Example: A1TowingSeattle.com is easier to read than a1towingseattle.com.

10. Buy misspellings of your company name or keywords. For instance, if your company name is Debra’s Doughnuts, try to buy deborahsdoughnuts.com, debrasdonuts.com, etc. to cover all possible spellings of Debra and doughnuts.

Where Do I Buy My Domain Names?

Cheap Domain Names

To register a .com domain name, go to 1and1.com. You can get domain names there for $6.99 USD a year! My personal favourite registrar is GoDaddy.com. Domains are sometimes on sale, but their regular price is $9.99 USD. I like GoDaddy simply because their interface is easy to use. NameCheap.com sells domains at $9.69 USD. Moniker.com sells them at $8.02 USD.

There are ways to buy even cheaper domain names, but sometimes these sites can be confusing for the uninitiated. However, if you want to save a few bucks, try BustAName.com. They resell domain names from GoDaddy.com for $6.95 USD.

Country-specific Domain Names

Search online for “domain names [your country],” e.g., “domain names canada.” Then look for the lowest price. As I write this, Netfirms.ca has Canadian domain names for $9.95 CAD per year.

Where Do I Host My Domain Name?

Don’t automatically use the domain name registrar as your hosting company! Instead, do your homework and locate a hosting company with good customer service and a full complement of features included in their basic service. Look for a hosting company that offers cPanel, a common, easy-to-use administration interface.

Here are some quality hosting services. They’re all good, but HostGator has a great reputation in the Internet marketing community.

- HostGator.com
- Host4Profit.com
- 1and1.com
- IXHosting.com

What Do I Do With All These Domain Names?

Domain names can be “parked” free at most registrars and forwarded to your main domain name.

Check your registrar for the option called “Forwarding.” Most registrars offer this service free of charge. This is an important option, so check to make sure you don’t have to pay for it.

Redirect all your secondary domain names to your actual Web site (main domain name). For our example, if we use smithandsonstowing.com as our actual domain name, we will point a1-towing-seattle.com to it. If we prefer, we can even mask the parked domain name so that anyone using it will only see smithandsonstowing.com. They won’t see a1-towing-seattle.com at all once they arrive on our site.

Domain names are cheap. Use the rules above to buy the right domain names to protect your company name and your market niche online.

If you already own a domain name, make sure you have read this article thoroughly so you can go and buy the proper variations.

Andrea Wilson of Able Webs is a Web designer who specializes in custom XSitePro templates. You can find her at http://www.xsiteprodesigns.com

Author: Andrea Wilson
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Provided by: WordPress plugin Guest Blogger

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