Online Basics

Finding the Right Domain Name

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Category: Online Basics , Choosing A Domain Name

Helpful Tips for Choosing a Domain Name for Your Web Site

You're ready to establish a new Web presence and you know the first step is to find a domain name. You probably want more than just a domain name you can live with – you want a domain name that means something to your business and to your customers. You want a domain name that is distinct from your competitors, but easy to find!

Although it may seem that all the good names are gone, you can still get a great name for your website by using a little creativity and by gaining a bit more knowledge. Here are some tips to help you find your way to a better – available – domain name for your website.

Make it memorable

Your first task is to come up with a unique domain name that is memorable and easy to spell. It's a good idea to find a name that uses descriptive words that are meaningful to your customers and relate to the content of your website. Brainstorm for a website name using both the names of your business and the names you use to advertise your products.

If you operate in a local business consider adding your city or state locality to your domain name. For example, "Bagels.com" maybe taken, but "Virginiabagels.com" or "DCbagels.com" may be available. Adding your locality to your domain name not only helps you get the name you want, but may also lead customers to your local business.

Pick the right extensions

Your domain name is made up of two parts: your "uniquename" followed by a "dot extension" or TLD (top level domain). Adding different TLD extensions to your name makes it an entirely new domain name registered to a different Web address.

Most business owners will register their domain name with one or all three of the most popular extensions: .com, .net, and .org, but because these are the most commonly used extensions, they also have the most registrations – meaning it can be difficult to get the "uniquename" you want using just .com, .net, and .org.

However, there are many other domain name extensions that could be appropriate to your Web site content including .info, .biz, .mobi, .tv, etc. There are also regional extensions, such as .us (USA), .ca (Canada), .co.uk (United Kingdom), .cn (China), etc., that may be appropriate for you depending on the location of your business.

Additionally, the combined ".us.com" extension can be a great way to get the domain name you truly want that is no longer available as a ".com" extension. The .us.com extension also tells your customers that your business resides in, or is focused within the United States.

Check your spelling

The characters that are available for use in your unique domain name are: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz-0123456789. Try to avoid confusion when choosing your domain name and resist the temptation for deliberate misspellings: '2' for 'to' and '4' for 'for', etc. You want your customers to easily remember and type in your name exactly as you've registered it.

Hyphens can be helpful, but you cannot use one to begin or end your domain name. Be warned, although the use of hyphens can be tempting to get the name you want, it is very easy for people to forget to type the hyphens and thereby end up at an entirely different Web site.

Test different name combinations

Once you have a shortlist of available name choices, test the response on your friends, relatives and clients. Can you easily pronounce the name over the phone? Can your "test group" say and spell the name correctly? Use the people you know to help you rule out names that are confusing or that get lost in translation.

Also, take a few minutes to search the Internet for websites with the same domain name you want to register, but with a different extension. For example, if you register a .net extension and the .com version of that name belongs to an embarrassing website or a competitor, how will you feel when your customers find the .com site by accident?

Register your domain name ASAP

Once you find the domain name you want – register it now! With over 100,000 domain names registered daily, the name you find today may not be available tomorrow. With the Internet business growing at such a rapid speed there is plenty of competition left for the remaining great names. It's worth registering all your top choices immediately.

Register variations and multiple extensions

"When you're starting a company, you can't register too many domains because it's far cheaper to buy a domain and never use it than to evict a squatter," states Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Truemors.com.

While registering your new domain name, consider all the various extensions and misspellings of that name and register those, too. For example, if you're registering janesbagels.com, you may want to protect your brand name by registering janesbagels.net, janesbagels.biz, etc.

You'll also want to own the most likely misspellings of your name so that if a customer accidentally types the wrong name into their browser they will still find your website. You don't need to host a Web site for each of the domains you register. Instead, you can set up Web forwarding which will automatically re-route traffic from each of the additional domains you purchase to your one Web site.

Don't give up!

If all else fails and you absolutely must have a domain name that is taken, there are a number of services available to help you obtain it from the current holder. For example, a domain registration company can help you place a certified offer to immediately purchase the name from the holder. Other options include placing a backorder to register the name if it expires, or using a keyword alert system that notifies you when domain names you want become available. Plus, many popular names are now showing up on domain auctions or on premium resale lists. In short, don't give up on that dream name if it's really the one you want!

Your domain name will establish how the world will think of you. It has to mean something to your customers and resonate with them so they'll return to your website again and again. You need a domain name you can display on your existing business materials, in your email, and through online marketing. The more exposure you give your website name the more easily it will be found and remembered.

As the pioneer in the domain name industry, Network Solutions® is dedicated to helping you find the right domain for your website. For additional assistance, place a free call to our customer service representatives at 888-642-9675.