Your small business website is a great way to build your brand and attract new customers. However, getting people to your website is the result of a number of factors, which primarily rely on SEO to gain attention and search engine rankings. Even so, there is another level of consideration that comes into play in helping people get to your site: your domain name.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the name of your website. For example, when you came to our blog, you came to contentequalsmoney.com – that’s our domain name. When you start to dig into the technical details, the domain name is what allows web browsers to contact IP addresses and begin the process of transferring data from the server to the access point.
Since IP addresses are strings of numbers (and therefore much more difficult to remember reliably), domain names make it easy for people to access web addresses. For your small business, you want to select a domain name for your address that is just that: easy to remember so people can access your website.
How to select an effective domain name
Since a good domain name makes it easier for potential customers to find your site, you want to have a good one. Just like you thought about selecting your business name, you want to do the same with your domain. When choosing (or even updating) your domain name, consider the following factors:
- Availablity. Before going too far in your thinking about your domain name, know that you can only have it if it is available. If you are too generic, it is possible that someone else has already grasped your idea.
- Specific. One of the easiest ways to avoid the “someone else took my idea for a domain name” conundrum is to be specific. Let’s say you run an auto repair business. Including â€œauto repairâ€ in your area will help you a lot, especially when you combine it with your specific service area. As an added bonus, you will get an SEO boost because the keywords are in your domain name.
- Relevant. You also want to make sure that your domain name is relevant to your business as well. For example, this auto repair company would not benefit from including “bakery” in its field. Stick to your business for the best results.
- Memorable. Another great way to make your domain name accessible is to make sure it’s easy to remember. Anything that is too long or complex can mean that your potential customers won’t be able to find your site, even if they want to. To help you, avoid using abbreviations (“2” for “Ã “, “u” for “you”, etc.) and dashes. Keeping your domain on the shorter side is another smart move.
Another good thing to keep in mind is that you have a choice of which extension you should choose. In most cases, .com is your safest bet because it is the best known. You can also use .net and .org if the .com you want is not available, but you should stick to those three. Any other type is not as well known and ultimately adds nothing to the value of your site. Some of them can even cost a lot more than what you have to pay.
Best Practices for Buying Domain Names
After you find the perfect domain name, you will need to purchase it to use it. You can do this by going through a domain name registrar (see the list of accredited domain name registrars here) and paying your fees. After that, you are ready to use your domain name to launch your website!
Although this is a straightforward process, you will need to exercise some caution. Consider these best practices:
- Register as the owner of the domain name to avoid any complications with transfers of ownership.
- Don’t forget to renew your registration. Many websites offer registration for a period of one year. After that, you might lose your domain name if you don’t renew it before someone else gets it back. Set up automatic renewal or purchase multiple years of registration at a time to avoid this risk.
- Don’t pay too much. The average price for a domain name is around $ 10-20 per year. There is no reason for a small business to pay much more than that.
- Do not buy “for sale” domains. Even if the name is perfect, these kinds of sales are often much more difficult than they are worth.
- Don’t buy a domain without researching it first. Along with checking if it’s available, you also want to make sure that your potential domain name isn’t already associated with another company or brand. Depending on the level of influence of the other party, you could end up with attorney fees on your hands. You also want to avoid domain names that have already been banned from search engines.
When you follow the best practices for choosing and registering your domain name, you can have an effective way for customers to find your website. With this in place, you will have a great contribution to the marketing strategy of your small business.
For more information on bringing traffic to your website, tune in to our next entry in the Simple Tech series for small business owners: How to Measure Your PPC Campaign!