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

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