So, you need to get your first domain name. It’s time to set up your first website and it’s an exciting time, but what should you consider before you buy your domain name?
1. Domain Names Are Mostly Cheap
They range from $1 and so any mistake doesn’t have to be a disaster. Domain names start costing a fortune when they are the sort of name that lots of people might want to have. An example could be something like businesscoach.com – if you could even get it, it would cost huge amounts. Mainly you want to buy your own name and/or your company name and as no-one else apart from you is likely to want it (no offence!) you shouldn’t have to pay much.
So don’t fret too much about getting it wrong first time round.
2. Domain Names Can Be Pointed To Each Other
If you do buy a domain name and print it all over everything and later on decide it’s not right and so buy a new one – you can redirect the original one to the new one so anyone who happens to find one of your old business cards in the fluff in the bottom of their handbag and types it into Google, will still end up at your website.
3. You Don’t Just Have To Have One Website
Websites are not the once in a lifetime investment for your business they used to be. You may have a website or blog for yourself, a brochure type website for your business and a website which is specifically about one of your products, services or a special project. You could also have specific lead generation and sales pages each with their own domain names. The most expensive domain names are often those made up of keywords – an example would be KentButcher – but it is unlikely it will be just sitting there for you to take.
4. Before You Decide On A Domain Name, How Will You Use It?
Is it too long to put onto a business card comfortably?
My first domain name was Stormchasersbusinesswebmarketing.com and the only way to get it onto a business card in a single line was to have the font so minuscule that a magnifying glass was needed by the average person to read it. Not a good move.
How does it work if it is also going to be your email address – firstname.lastname@example.org is exhausting to say and prone to people making typos as well as shortening it to ‘buswebmarketing’ even though no-one asked them to.
Stand up and say it out loud.
At some point you will need to do this – you’re in business! So, at business networking, when you appear on radio shows or need to tell someone over the telephone. Do you need to explain it? Say you pick a domain name like Www.gloves4you.com – just imagine saying this ‘so it’s the word gloves and then the number 4, you, the word you, you.com.’
It may have worked for Toys-R-Us, but they were the first and they had a massive advertising, branding, and publicity budget behind them.
Whilst we are talking about saying it out loud. Don’t be like the person who calls their dog ‘Snoopadoo’ cos they’re a cute puppy and then feels daft shouting it out in the park. You need to be proud of it, so just imagine announcing it in different situations.
Write it out by hand and print it out typewritten as well.
Our brains try and organise a group of letters we don’t immediately recognise into a word or grouping we do recognise. Do check you don’t include letter strings in your domain that spell out words you don’t want in there. The worst I’ve seen so far is ‘penis’. I’m not going to name and shame the owner of that domain so don’t ask me, just don’t do it yourself.
The best domain names are:
*Less than 9 characters
*Are made up of one or two words only
*Don’t have numbers or hyphens or other strange characters
*Are not acronyms – avoid these like the plague as people don’t remember them at all, or get the letters the wrong way round.
Are you going to use it in other places online?
If this is your main domain name for your online presence, you might want to think about if it’s available and how you could use it on other social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Each platform has it’s own restrictions in character length and other parameters. What you would like to use may already be gone. Knowem is a free service (there are paid elements, but you don’t really need them right now) and it lets you try out different names, see what’s available where so you can pick a name that you can use across all the major social media sites. This helps you keep consistent which helps your online branding and recognition no end.
5. Buy Your Own Name As A Domain Name
Even if you aren’t going to use it right now you should own it. It makes it easier to find you in the search engines and you could just put a simple one-page website with your contact details on it with links to your ongoing projects and company website. Buy it now before you become famous and someone else buys it and tries to sell it to you a premium price! If your own name has already been taken then don’t add hyphens, dashes and number in to get the next closest thing. No one can ever remember them and you’re back to explaining it all again. The best thing to do is stick something on the end of it – johnsmithonline.com johnsmithbutcher.com etc.
Check Legalities and Trademarks
You shouldn’t have a problem with your own name – although stranger things have happened.
This US website will check if the name you are planning on is trademarked already.
7. Get The .com?
If you can’t get the .com of the domain and it’s for a key part of your business, like your corporate website or your personal blog, then mostly the advice is to not get it. You should get the .co.uk (or the .us etc) as well as the .com and any others you feel you need such as the .org.
The extension you pick is very important, as it provides information about the type of business or website you are running. At the same time, the public has varying conceptions about different extensions. While most people trust “.com” extensions, they may be wary of “.biz” extensions.
The most popular and often preferred extension is the .com extension. Roughly 75% of websites have it.
Many web experts advise that if the .com is too expensive or is taken, you should probably try the .net or .org extensions – whichever is more appropriate. The .org extension is best used for nonprofit organisations. The .net extension is often used by companies that offer internet services.
Other popular extensions include .info .biz, and .us. The .info extension is best used for websites that offer information to the public, the .biz extension is best used for businesses, and the .us extension should be used by companies located in the United States.
Stay away from obscure extensions like .cheap or .camera.
8. If You Do Get It Wrong, There Is Usually A Solution
If you get your domain name, your website is built for you and launched onto your domain and guess what you hate it. It needn’t be a major issue. You can, of course, change the Titles and description and maybe get a new banner for the site and it looks like new and these things can generally be done quickly and simply.
That said if the branding and marketing material around your project is significant then even if you are able to redirect to a different domain, it could prove costly in terms of money and organisation.
9. Your Domain Will Need To Be Renewed
You buy your domain name for a specified period of time – usually 1,2 or 3 years. After that time it will need to be renewed. You should check how much it costs to renew. It is usually a bit more expensive to renew than it is to buy, but it shouldn’t be THAT more expensive. Before you buy from a particular seller, check how much it is to renew. There are loads of places you can buy the domain name from (they are called registrars) so if it seems costly to renew, try another site to buy from.
You can set your domain name to automatically renew (and payment will also be taken at the same time from your credit or debit card). You can ask for this to happen and then make a note to check closer the time and cancel the renewal if you’re no longer using that domain. There is nothing more frustrating in business than to lose your main domain name because someone else has bought it when you forgot to renew. There are domain name buyers who monitor expiring domains and buy them up so they can then sell them at a premium price to desperate business owners.
If you lose the domain name totally because you forget to renew, there is no redirection, you effectively need to start again.
10. Keep The Login Details To Your Domain Name Registrar Safe
You don’t need these details often but when you do then they are vital. You will need them to renew the domain or to point it to a different place.
It’s a really common problem that we are approached to help solve where a domain name has expired and the owner of the website can’t remember where they bought (which registrar) and their login details. We can unpick it but it can be avoided just by keeping the details safe.
Hopefully, you have enough to get yourself started. We have a domain store where you can go and explore and there is 24/7 support there for you, but give us a call on 01634 566321 BST 9-5 for a chat if you want more help.