selecting the right domain name
What you call your website can make or break the success of this online marketing tool.
It has to be catchy, but at the same time you have to consider search engine optimization, geo-targeted keywords, and top level domains. Yes, choosing the right name is tricky, but it is surely not beyond your reach. Here is what you need to know in order to pick a winner.
Browse the competition
Before committing to a name, make yourself a nice cup of coffee and spend some time online. Think of services and products you need and type in keywords for these. This will give you a pretty good idea of how search engines work. Also do a search for businesses that offer similar products to yours and see what names and sites are out there. Even if you have a pretty good idea of what you want your domain name to be, a little research can go a long way.
Keep it simple
Unless your target market is exclusively MENSA members, you are aiming for the lowest common denominator, because in the web world, simplicity equals memorability.
Leave out hyphens or meaningless numbers. If someone passes your website name to a friend, chances are they are not going to include these. Fishtank.com is definitely better than fish-tank345.com.
Go for easy words. If an eight-year-old can spell it, you are good to go. Healthyfeet.com will probably do better than fabulouspodiatrist.com. Difficult words get misspelt and your potential clients then might be misdirected.
Keep it relevant
Your domain name must reflect your product or service, otherwise it will pretty much be lost on the nation of googlers and yahooers out there. Try getting as many primary keywords in your domain name. People will be able to find you, and it can push you up in the SEO rankings (a whole other topic!) on Google and other popular search engines.
Pick the perfect ending
Compromise for .com: It is worth it to go for a top level domain name. If, after many sleepless nights, you have chosen that perfect name and you find that the .com version is already sold, rather sacrifice some more sleep and think up another name. Going for “.info” or “.biz” or another unknown ending drastically reduce your web prowess. People default to .com, and unconventional endings are hard to remember.
Local vs global: If you want to go global, there’s no point registering with a country specific domain. The simple fact is .com is the most common extension and it is favored by auto completion tools built into Internet browsers. If the ending is left off of the website name, some browsers will automatically fill in .com and search for that website address, making you miss marketing opportunities. HOWEVER, sometimes it pays to use a country specific domain. For instance, if your business is solely concentrated on the Cayman market, choosing “.com.ky” or “.ky” can actually improve your ranking with search engines, plus it shows your commitment to your chosen marketplace.
Involve your harshest critics
Ask your other half, friend, dog, lawyer, jogging partner, mom, dad, cousin, or uncle. They are going to be the one looking for the site, not you. Test your URL on them – let them say it out loud, make them write it out – see how easy it is for them to get it right.
The technical stuff
With the creative bit in the bag, there are some technical issues to consider, such as:
Registering your domain name: It can be as cheap as $2, but make sure you know what you get for your money. Check out www.GoDaddy.com; If you plan on using a professional, ask first, as many will register your domain name as part of the hosting package.
Get site monitoring: There are many monitoring vendors such as www.siteuptime.com and www.montastic.com that offer free and paid services – depending on what you need. These service providers essentially watch your website for you 24/7 and tell you when it is down, and also tracks how it performs.
If you find the big www and its accompanying lingo daunting, don’t feel like a caveman. While it’s easy to access the web, being really good on the web, does require some know-how. So, here is a final piece of advice, when in doubt, call in the professionals to help you take the virtual world by storm.