Selection of a Domain Name

Challenges in the Selection of a Domain Name
Decisions, decisions.  Someone has said “they can make anything other than a decision”.  There are some decisions that you clearly don’t want to rush and the choice of a “Domain Name” may be one of those decisions.  I don’t mean you prevaricate for days or weeks but you do need to consider your choice of name very carefully.

 

Selection of a Domain Name for an Existing Local Business.
If you have a business name, are a local business and the “Domain Name” is available then choice of name is probably straightforward.  However, if your desired choice of name is not available then the search for an alternative is where a “choice” becomes important.  Hence you may want to consider alternative names and “mull” over them or even discuss them with third parties to use them as a sounding board for possible choices.

Alternative Domain Name

 

Selection of a Domain Name to appeal to a Wider Market.
For other types of business enterprise  where your Internet Site my be your main or only “shop window”  then the name selected may not be as obvious or straightforward.  It may also be the situation that a  Local Bricks and Mortar Business has the objective to promote their products/services to a wider market/audience.

In these instances name selection and the implications can have long term consequences to traffic and business viability, especially if you are working on a limited budget (which will be the case for the vast majority of people reading this post).  What I am really saying here is that most people will not have large sums of money to promote a Business Name or Business Domain Name via a huge advertising budget.  Therefore the name selected needs to be suggestive of the service supplied so that “search engines” (i.e. Google) will pick it up.

 

 

Summary “Must Have” of a Domain Name.
In my post “What is a Domain Name” I have went into detail on the characteristics of name selection.  I will not repeat all the detail contained in that post but summarise the main points below.

Must Have of Domain Name

1. Make it easy to type. Therefore it should not be complicated, but be memorable hence it is easy to type.
2. Name should be short; maximum length is recommended as 10 letters, however the shorter the better i.e. “Skype”
3. Keywords will become important (will be discussed later), so the name should lend itself to being a keyword or becoming a keyword.
4. Maybe “area specific” depending on the business – see my post on Domain Name Extensions where I go into great detail on their implications and importance.
5. At all times try to ensure a Domain Name uses letters only – avoid numbers and hyphens. Remember the “KISS” principle (Keep it Simple Stupid).
6. Ideally the name should be Memorable or suggestive of service/product promoted.
7. Use an Appropriate Domain Name Extension.
8. If you are going to use Social Media such a Twitter/YouTube etc you should check if your Domain Name is available as an address.  CHECKUSERNAMES is a Free Web site that will check the availability of any proposed Domain Name on 160 Social Media Networks.

 

Key Words in the context of a  Domain Name.
You need to understand what a “Keyword” is and “file” its importance in the back of your mind for constant reference.  I am not going to provide you in this post with a comprehensive “paper” on Keywords but I will highlight their importance and necessary features.

Keywords are ideas and topics that tell a person or electronic search tool what your content is about.  In terms of Search Engine Optimisation (S.E.O.), they’re the words, phrases and terms that searchers enter into search engines (i.e Google).  On a Web page — all the images, video, copy, etc. — down to simple words and phrases, are your primary keywords.

S.E.O.

While the content of your Web page is vitally important in respect of “Keywords” in our case we want to focus particularly on the Domain Name as a “Keyword”.

 

Why are keywords important in respect of a Domain Name?
Keywords are important because they are the connection between what people are searching for and the content of the Web Site you are providing to fill that need. Your goal in ranking on search engines is to drive organic traffic to your site from the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).  The keywords you choose to target (i.e. the ones you choose to include in your content) will determine what kind of traffic you get.

So, you may be asking yourself; what has all this to do with my Selection of a Domain Name?  Think about this a moment!  For most people starting out on a limited Budget their Domain Name will be their “Most Important Keyword” .  The more relevant to the service/product you are supplying/promoting that your Domain Name is, the more likely it is to be referenced and picked up by a Search Engine.  Keywords are as much about your audience as they are about your content.

Keywords for Domain Name

If you take as an example the present page you are reading and the Domain Name “MyProDomain”.  The name “MyProDomain” was purposely selected because it contained the word “Domain” which was what the blog was going to be about.  However, it was not possible to purchase “Domain.com” so a compromise name had to be sourced.  Eventually after searching various alternatives the name “Domain” was prefixed with “Mypro”.

The expectation is that over time anyone seeking information on Domain Names will turn up on the Search Engines “MyProDomain”.  O.K. granted, it would be better and more effective for Search Engine Optimisation if the prefix “Mypro” was not part of the name, but this is an example of the compromises and improvisations that are a regular part of suitable name selection on a limited budget.

 

Where do I find available Domain Names?
Well, you could go directly to a “domain registrar and web hosting company” such as GoDaddy or NameCheap to name two of the most common and popular  of literally numerous companies in this business.  However, in order to provide you with ideas and options and help let you see a wide variety of options and ideas I am advising that for the moment you consider tools that will provide you with both ideas and options.  These tools will also help you “brain storm” all sorts of ideas.

Brainstorm Ideas

 

Options for Searching and Suggesting Domain Names.

Searching for Domain Names

LeanDomainSearch
This online software simply asks you to input some text (i.e. a keyword) to a text box and after a few seconds provides literally hundreds if not thousands of available Domain Names which have your keyword as part of the name. The site focuses on “.com” Domain Names.  If you click on any of the suggested names it will offer to Register the Domain Name,  create an account with “WordPress.com”  and  also Blue Host.  At this stage I would not do anything until you consider my next Blog which will detail a series of Options.

NAMEMESH
Like the previous site this online software operates in a similar manner, but provides less names of available Domain Names, but does provide a variety of available Domain Name extensions.  The site also gives indications of “Premium Sites” and their likely sales value.  The site is set up to promote “BlueHost” a company which hosts Domains. My best advice is to have a look at the site, but as stated previously take no further action until you read my next Blog post.

Nameboy
Like the sites above you enter a “word or words” (keyword(s)) into a text box and are provided with a comprehensive list of suggested names although there is no indication of their extensions.  When you click on a name it takes you straight to “BlueHost” which as stated is a company which hosts Domains.  This would be my least favourite site of the three and appears to have been set up primarily to promote “BlueHost”.

 

Finally
If you have got this far then hopefully you have selected or finalised the selection of a suitable Domain Name which will rank well in a “Keyword” search.  At this stage when you know what name or a number of name options you may have, we then need to look at two other important matters – the cost of the Domain Name and the Hosting of the Domain Name.  These two items will be the content of the next Blog.

Do Not Give Up

Picking a Domain Name Extension

Picking a Domain Name is Simple but Not Simple

Some of you will realise the above heading is an “oxymoron”.  I will take the time and trouble to provide a definition of “oxymoron”.  Oxymoron is a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect. The common oxymoron phrase is a combination of an adjective proceeded by a noun with contrasting meanings, such as “cruel kindness,” or “living death”.

So why the English lesson when we are discussing “Picking a Domain Name”?  Well, the reality is that it is very easy to select a Domain Name; but (there is always a but) it is much harder and it requires a lot more thought and effort to get the correct or best fit Domain Name.  It would be fair to say it is almost impossible to get a perfect name but it is important to strive towards perfection.

Possibilities of Choice

 

Pre Domain Name Selection Considerations – Extensions

You may have noticed that there is a suffix added to all Domain Names.  Amazon uses suffixes such as “.com” to give Amazon.com or “.co.uk” to give Amazon.co.uk Other large companies do the same.

These suffixes are known as Domain Extensions.  Examples of Domain Extensions are “.com”; “.co.uk”; “.net”; “.org”; “.site”; etc , etc.  There are a huge variety of Domain Extensions and most (if not all) countries have their own extension.  So for example “.co.uk” tends to designate a United Kingdom extension while “.us” tends to be associated with the United States of America.

Domain Name Extensions

In reality in most cases if a Domain Name with any extension is available and you are willing to pay for the name and extension you can purchase it irrespective of where you live.  An example is the Web Site you are currently looking at where the url is https://myprodomain.com.   I am based in the United Kingdom but I have no problem purchasing an unrelated country domain extension name.  If you are based in the United States you could purchase a domain extension with “.co.uk” (this extension tends to designate a  United Kingdom site).

There is a hierarchy of Domain Extensions known as “Top Level Domains [T.L.D.]”.  The “.com” extension is known as a Top Level Domain Extension and “.com” extensions added to a Domain Name are usually more expensive to purchase than other extensions such as “.net” or “.org” etc, etc.

Do Domain Name Extensions Matter?

The “Law of the Situation” applies to this question.  This law states that “solutions to management problems should be governed by the demands of the situation and not by reference to any authority or principle”.

So, lets apply this law to a number of separate scenario:-

Your Business and Your Target Market is Local.
If you were a single site small business such as an automobile repair business, then you will be servicing a local market (probably within a 20 mile radius [32 kilometres]).  In this case your actual Domain Name will be much more important and relevant than your Domain Name extension.  If someone is looking for you on the Web to check the range of work  that  your automobile service provides they will probably apply one of two search criteria – Automobile repairs or they may search by Business name.  The use of any of these two criteria will result in the search engine (i.e. google) showing all the Automobile engineers in the local area or bringing up the Business name (if business name was search criteria).

Auto Mechanic

In the scenario above as has been illustrated, the Domain Name extension is very much of secondary importance.  In most instances such as above the business will obtain a country Domain Name extension i.e. “.co.uk” (if available for the business name) or if the Domain Name which includes the Business Name is only available with another extension they will accept the other extension (i.e. “.net”; “.site”; etc, etc).  The point being made is that the Business Name being available is the priority over the desired extension being available.

 

Your Business is Local but Your Market is both Local and National
Let us assume you are a small retail business with a single shop selling meat products but specialising in different flavours of sausages.  You know there is a national market for these sausages within your own country (assume it is United Kingdom) and the European Union.  (The market will be restricted to these countries due to assumed food import/export regulations.)

In the example above your main market is local but you are also starting to build up a significant amount of your turnover from selling specialist flavoured sausages via the internet by post in special packaging.  To do this you had a Web Site developed with considerable thought given to both the Domain Name and Domain Name extension.

Butcher Shop Illustration

The first consideration was that the extension would be reflective of the country of origin (which would provide confidence to the consumer that these food products were coming from a country with well regulated food standards).  Therefore you wanted a name extension that had “.co.uk” or as a fall back “.com”.  No other Domain Name was considered appropriate taking into consideration the target market and the business objective and needs.

The trading name of the business was “Hoys the Butcher”.  On consideration the business name was considered too long and was also not available with any of the two extensions referred to.  A compromise was arrived at.  The Domain Name “HoysMeats” was available, as was also “.co.uk” therefore the Domain Name with the extension became “hoysmeats.co.uk”.

I may have laboured this example but I trust it illustrates the point in respect of the combination and importance of both the Domain Name and the Extension attached to the Domain Name in a local business with both a local and  a national market.

 

Your Business has the Potential to attract Customers from Many Countries
It is highly unlikely that any reader of this blog will be a Chief Executive of a major world wide business.  However, many of the readers will be seeking to build or have built for them Web Sites which will have a genuine world wide appeal or certainly will appeal to English speaking Countries and the  Consumers within these Countries.

Map of the World

Examples of the type of business I am referring to would be Internet Marketing,  especially where you are seeking to attract customers (i.e. pull marketing as opposed to push marketing).  Within Internet Marketing some sub-divisions would be:-

1)Affiliate Marketing (i.e. ClickBank, or JvZoo [marketing of digital products which are downloaded to the purchasers computer when a sale is made]);

2)Drop Shipping (marketing a physical product via your Web Site and getting a third party to deliver the product when a Sale is made – you never handle the product)

So, the question arises what Domain Name Extension should be used for this type of business which can draw customers from around the globe?

Well, within the Domain Name Extensions hierarchy the  Top Level Domain Extension is globally recognised as “.com”.  Hence the Web Site you are currently looking at has a “.com” Extension.  So before you finally select a Domain Name make sure if you are in this market that your ultimate Domain Name has available a “.com” extension.

 

Summary of Advice on Domain Name Extensions
Perhaps at this stage after reading all this detail about Extensions and the examples given you are wondering – how could you say so much about such a minor item?

Well, if you ask that question you have missed the point.  What is the point?  The point is the Domain Name Extension can be unimportant or important, depending on the Market you are operating in or intend to operate in.

Missed the Point

If you pay extra for a Domain Name Extension you do not need, then you are wasting money and obtaining no extra benefit by having a Top Level  Domain Name Extension.  If you try to save on money at the expense of an unsuitable Domain Name Extension your traffic will be less and your Business will suffer from lack of  traffic.  If  there is little traffic there will be few Sales

 

Do Not Give Up

What is a Domain Name?

Simple Answer to What is a Domain Name?
In its simplest terms a Domain Name is a “Website address”.  Well known examples of Domain Names are “google.com” ;  “bbc.co.uk” ; “youtube.com”; “amazon.com”.

Illustration of a Domain Name

 

Is a Domain Name a Big Deal?
Well to answer that question a little piece of history will be helpful.  In the United Kingdom the word  “Domain”  is used to refer to  “an area of territory owned or controlled by a particular ruler or government”.  A digital domain has similarities to this although there is no ownership of physical land or territory involved.

It is not unusual to hear  a “Domain Name” being referred to as being equivalent to “a piece of Digital Real Estate”.  This is a good  illustration of the potential and actual value of some “Domain Names” (please note these are the exception, not the rule – so do not get carried away!).

Image of a Physical Domain

 

What Exactly Does a Domain Name Do?
I am sure all of us who live in a house/property or static home of some type, receive post  or mail (for those of you in the U.S.A.), or more recently parcels of deliveries from Amazon etc.   To receive this post/mail and/or deliveries the deliverer of the items needs a reference to know where to leave the delivery.  This reference point will be known as the postal/mailing address of the recipient.

The Domain Name is the electronic equivalent to a physical postal address in respect of finding a particular Web Site.  You cannot put a Web Site on the World Wide Web without a Domain Name.  The Domain Name is the Official Name or Address of your Web site.

Most references on computers take place with the use of numbers and no doubt numbers could have been used to identify Web Sites.  However,  just think about this for a moment.  What is easier to remember – a number perhaps running to 8 or 9 digits or if possible a short text?  Obviously most people find it easier to remember text, especially if the text has an underlying meaning.  Hence Domain Names are designated via text although you could use numbers, but using numbers is not recommended for the reasons previously stated.

The words used to identify a Web Site are known as the Domain Name or URL address.  URL is an abbreviation for “Universal Resource Locator” and the URL or Domain Name provides the address of a World Wide Web (WWW) site.

World Wide Web example

 

Selection of a Domain Name
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Quote from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – English Writer 1564-1616).

In respect of the selection of a Domain Name the name is extremely important, especially if you are seeking to promote a business and already have a known brand name or business name i.e. Coca Cola (www.coca-cola.co.uk).  You will note that the url address used by Coca Cola is the exact same as their product name.  This is despite the fact that the product name pre-dated the Internet age by at least a century (Coca Cola originated circa 1886).

Coca Cola

There can be occasions when the Domain Name has a lesser importance.  An example would be where perhaps you are involved in actively promoting a single product offer to an established mailing list or via social media.  In this case you are driving an offer using  a mailing list or social media and are asking/encouraging the recipient of the email/social media site to click on a link to get details of the product/service being offered.  You are not relying on “searches” by a potential customer via a search engine (i.e. google) to find your product/service.  This type of marketing is known as push marketing as opposed to pull marketing where you are trying to attract the customer to your Web Site.

Push Marketing

 

Matters to consider when choosing a Domain Name
A number of recommended best practices apply especially when you are seeking to attract traffic and therefore potential customers.  As stated above you are seeking to attract this traffic via  “pull marketing”.

Having to Choose

  1.  A Domain Name should be as short as possible and no more that 10 letters.
  2. The name should be related to the business.  Think of the name “coca-cola” and the web site which has the same name.  If you trade as “Joes Tyres” then you should be looking for a name that has the words “Joes Tyres”.  Someone looking for your Web Site will always be inclined (especially in local markets) to look for the Web site under the name of the business i.e. “Joes Tyres”.
  3. A “short name” will also mean if your decide to use social media such a Twitter that you will be able to get a Twitter Account.  If you are going to use Twitter check out your Web Site name with its availability on Twitter.
  4. A Domain Name should pass the phone test.  If you were to give the name over the phone would the person at the other end of the phone be able to “pick up” what you have said and remember it?
  5. The name should be “Memorable”.  I have touched indirectly on this in the points above but I am explicitly stating that you need a name that is memorable, even if initially until the name becomes known the name provides no suggestion of the product/service.  Such names would be Amazon or Skype.  Neither name suggests the actual service the organisation provides but through time and large marketing campaigns and budgets they have become world wide brands.
  6. Yes, I know item 5 tends to contradict items 2 and 3.  As most of you will be working with limited funds to start with; advice at 2 and 3 plus must be “memorable” must trump the total of comment at 5.  The latter part of comment 5 can only be achieved where there are large marketing budgets or significant time periods in order to build momentum.  However in the past time and  momentum has achieved this.  Who would ever have associated the name “Apple” with computers?

 

Summary & Conclusion

Common Sense

Perhaps at this stage you are thinking to yourself  – What is the point of all this advice?  Perhaps you are thinking I have learnt very little or even nothing.  Perhaps you say all this is common sense.

Well if the previous paragraph reflects your opinion then you must also ask the question:- Why do so many people make such a  “hash” when selecting a “Domain Name”?  You must also consider your context for the purpose of Name Selection.  Are you a “push marketer” or a “pull marketer” or a combination of both.

The application of the information provided above will greatly assist you in the avoidance of common errors and in the next post I will progress matters a little further into the next steps of the journey.

Do Not Give Up