Take a moment to think about your favorite brand. How long does it take you to find their company website? Is theirs the first name that comes up in a Google search? If it’s a well-known brand, they probably have an easy-to-find website with a memorable domain name.
Picking a domain name for your business – in essence, your digital home – is a lot like buying a physical home. You need to find the perfect fit and it has to be available.
While you might think you have the perfect name already picked out, chances are you’re going to have to get creative. As of the third quarter of 2019, there are already nearly 360 million registered domain names.
Why is a domain name so important? Simply put, it is the heart of your online identity. And while domain names can be changed at any time, doing so could have a negative impact on your brand and your SEO. Choose the best possible name from the start and stick with it.
To help you understand the ins and outs of purchasing and maintaining a domain name, we’ve put together a list of six tips to help you make an informed decision.
1. Choosing the best domain name.
Choosing a unique domain name is an important part of your online marketing strategy. Domain names should be unique and easy to remember so your customers and prospects can easily find you online.
Your domain name should reflect your core products or services. As many of the obvious names are already taken, it’s important to make sure your name stands out.
When choosing a domain:
- Keep it simple – Customers expect speed and convenience, especially when they’re searching for a product or service. Keep your domain name short and easy to type, remember and refer others to.
- Use common keywords in your domain name – Always consider SEO. Use your business’s main keyword phrase(s) in your domain name to help your site’s ranking on search engine results pages (or SERPs).
- Make it relevant to your business – Your domain name must be relevant to your products or services. At the same time, avoid locking yourself into a box if you’re considering expanding your offerings.
- It doesn’t have to be a “.com” – The most commonly used and recognized domain extension is .com. However, search engines treat other domain extensions, such as .net, .site or even .club, the same as .com. Create an exact match domain (a domain that includes the exact keywords you want to rank for) and the search engines are likely to rank it higher than a domain name that’s less descriptive.
2. Trademarking your domain name.
If your domain is the same as your brand name, trademark it to protect your business. Trademarks provide legal recourse if a person or business infringes on your brand.
3. Changing your domain name.
If your business is going through a rebranding or if you want to capitalize on SEO opportunities, domain name changes can be beneficial. You can change your domain name whenever you like, and most registrars offer a process to migrate from one domain name to another.
4. Renewing your domain.
Don’t forget to renew your domain. Domain names are rented rather than purchased. The more domain names a registrar has under its management, the greater the operating costs. ICANN, the international governing body of domain names, wants to ensure that businesses can accommodate for this inflation over time.
Most registrars offer automatic annual renewal for domains. Automated renewal ensures you don’t lose your preferred domain name and won’t have to worry about remembering to renew it every year.
5. Redirecting traffic to social media.
A redirect automatically takes a user from one URL to another. 301 redirects are typically used to make sure users end up in the right place. This redirect tactic may be used by a business that has purchased a domain name but doesn’t have a website set up. In this case, they could redirect their domain to a social media page.
While this strategy is a good solution for companies who don’t yet have a website to go with their domain, redirecting to social media isn’t a long-term solution. Having your own website enhances your brand’s credibility and allows for greater control over your content. Setting one up should be a priority.
6. Private registration.
The information listed on your domain name must be made publicly available per your registrar’s agreement with ICANN. Using false information violates the registration agreement and can lead to the termination of your domain registration.
Ensure your personal information remains private by purchasing private registration, which provides all the benefits of domain registration without exposing your personal information. When you purchase private domain registration services, the WHOIS directory will list your registrar’s name, postal address and phone number instead of yours, while still providing the full benefits of registration (though this can vary by registrar). This means you retain the ability to:
- Cancel, sell or transfer your domain registration.
- Turn off the privacy feature, so your registrant details are shown instead.
- Renew your domain registration upon expiration.
- Designate the name servers to which your domain points.
- Resolve claims arising out of a dispute involving your domain registration.