February 10th, 2017
The Hunt for the Perfect Domain Name
A lot of my clients in the door and window industry are just getting their business off the ground. Others are established, but contemplating rebranding. If this is you, pay special attention to this article. It could save you some grief in the future.
Selecting the perfect domain name is crucial because the cost of changing it in the future can be very painful. Not only will it be part of your company brand, the name can actually influence consumers and search engines. If you change it in the future, you may have to go back and update all your collateral material, and even worse, you could negate any search-engine influence that you built up over time.
Authors Note: This is an excerpt from my book 25 Website ‘Must Haves’ For Your Glass, Window, or Tint Shop. You’re welcome to download your copy here.
In a perfect world, you would just stick a “www” in front of your business name, throw a “dot-com” on the end, and you’re all set. Only one problem…. Your dream name… you know, the one that conveniently sounds like your business? It’s already taken.
It’s not that hard to figure out who owns the domain name that you want, and often it’s not being used for anything. If it isn’t already for sale, you can approach them to see if they would like to sell…. Just don’t expect any bargains.
Let’s assume that your first choice is out of reach
It’s time to get creative. The problem is that there is more to consider than you might think. After all, once you choose a domain name and start using it, it sets off an entire chain of commitment; collateral material, brand recognition, and a website that will be forever associated with it.
Better to invest the time and do it right the first time. Over the years, I’ve developed some very strong opinions on domain-name selection. There is a certain hierarchy of considerations…and compromises:
Is a good “Dot-Com” available? (probably not)
Generally, dot-com is better than dot-net, dot-biz, etc. Unless you are in one of the specialty industries such as dot-edu (schools and universities), or dot-gov (government agencies), you’re probably better going with a dot-com domain name if you can find one that makes sense.
The other domain extensions will most likely be perceived as the red-headed step-child….leftovers…a second choice. In some cases dot-org, or dot-info might even be better choices, but in general, a good dot-com domain is usually most desirable.
My Personal Hierarchy of Domain Name Selection
1. Shorter is better than longer
Shorter is easier to type, easier to remember and fits better on collateral material. At the end of the day, a memorable domain name trumps everything else. If you can’t get a good, short domain, try to make it easy to remember. Stringing additional words together that form a sentence (not a paragraph) may make it easier to remember, and have some additional search engine advantages (if your domain name is a popular search phrase).
2. Easy to spell
Face it, some words are just harder to spell than others. Unless someone is clicking on a link, they have to be able to type it in. Hard-to-spell domains leave a lot of room for error — perhaps even sending your customer to someone else’s website.
3. Avoid abbreviations and special characters
Did you know that SCVMA.org is the Southern California Veterinarian Association? Neither does anyone else. Using abbreviations, acronyms and special characters like dashes and hyphens also makes it harder to remember, and in my case it even taxes my typing skills.
- Exact Match Domains (EMDs) are domain names that match a popular search phrase. An example might be “BestWindowsMiamicom” This used to be a huge advantage in getting top ranking for that particular phrase in the search results. It’s no longer the silver bullet, but it still carries some weight, providing it is attached to a good website with worthwhile content.
- Slight modifications: If your primary domain is taken, try adding a word, or an abbreviation to the end. “PrecisionWindows.com” is long gone, but PrecisionWindowscom is a good compromise.
- Stemming:Note that people read from left to right, and by putting the abbreviation on the end, we are able to take advantage of a process called “stemming,” where we as human beings can visually pick out the full words and compensate for the abbreviation at the end. Also, OC has some cachet and recognition in our local area.
- Geo-target:“PrecisionWindows.com” may be gone, but what about PrecisionWindowsTX? The reference to Texas at the end can give it a bit of a local boost.
Domain Ownership Strategy
Keep track of ownership:
Often a business assigns the domain registration to an employee who eventually leaves the company and no one has the registration information to make changes, or even to renew it. This is surprisingly common. The domain should be assigned to standard aliases like email@example.com, and the records should be kept along with all the other important company info. If you have an IT department, it should be their responsibility.
Buying for Defense:
There is always a lot of debate about buying all the variations and combinations of your domain name. The rule of thumb is, if you can afford it…buy it! Why? Because anyone who is likely to buy a similar domain name as yours is likely to be a competitor of sorts. If you buy it first, you just took it off the market and gained a competitive advantage.
If you want to bounce some ideas off me about the pros and cons of a domain name you have in mind (or anything digital), feel free to lean on me if you want more information: firstname.lastname@example.org. I answer every email personally.