The domain name is an EXTREMELY important step in building a website. You only get this one chance, so think and plan ahead.
Ways to Register a Domain Name
There are two different ways to register your domain,
- With a domain registration company like Godaddy
- With a hosting company you use to host your website…which is always included in the cost of the hosting.
So why would you use a separate company to manage the domain?
The only reasons you would want to register your domain with a separate registrar would be to manage multiple domains OR to use their website builder services. The only domain management companies I would recommend for either of these services, would be Godaddy or Network Solutions.
If you plan on getting more domains, and possibly managing multiple websites at different hosting accounts, then a using a domain name management service like Godaddy makes sense.
If you are only really looking to build your own website using Wordpress, Do-it-Yourself or Professional web design, and will only be dealing with a couple of domains to point to your domain, then use the hosting service to register the name.
Finding the right Domain Name
Before you just jump in and think the acronym for your company will work fine (ex. Mike Smiths Legal Services in Miami Florida and registering MSLSMF.com), here are a few items you need to think about.
Google reads the words in the domain
Keywords and Phrases are what get you found in Search engines. The keywords can appear in the Title of the website, the Body copy and the words used in the DOMAIN!
If you want to get found for a keyword, (Realtor, Lawyer, Medical, Plumbing, Artist, Writer etc.) that word should be in your domain name. So in the example above, you might look for MSlegalServices.com, SmithsLegal.com or MiamiLegalServices.com
You DO NOT need to get every available extension for your domain. My recommendation is if you are a small business (for profit) you only need the .com. There are only about 6 primary Top Level Domains (TDL’s)
.com is short for Commercial and is more than likely what you are after.
.net is for Networking and Web Hosting companies. If you are not doing this, you dont need it.
.org is for Non-Profit or Trade Organizations
.edu is for schools
.mil is short for Military (probably not you)
.gov is short for Government and again, probably not you.
.us .biz .info .cc .tv .name .mobi .ws etc. are considered “generic” TDL’s and really nobody remembers them. Once you find a name, if you don’t go for the .com and someone else with a similar service has it, they will get your business.
For now, there are sill plenty of names out there, just pick on the has the .com available. When we start to see an industry shift to more of an acceptance of the second tier domains, I will come back and update this.
Finding the right name
So now you are ready to get a domain. I would recommend sitting down and writing out as many variation of the words as you can quickly think of. Try to keep it small, you don’t want to end up with one that is too difficult to type in, spell, or fit on a business card. Also remember that this domain will likely be your new business email address so if you have a big name and a long domain…you get the picture?
Don’t use hyphens if possible. If you grab great-products.com and there is already an existing website with great products.com that does essentially the same thing, they will get most of your direct traffic (when people just type the domain name in). Additionally, it is difficult to say, “best hyphen products dot com”.
Try a Generator
Using a domain generator lets you put in a primary keyword and secondary keyword and it will search for you. It will also give you an idea of what is still available. (Not sure how updated this is, so please check with NetSol for actual availability)
Remember to bounce the names off of a few good friends too. Make sure it sounds good, has your keywords and is a .com (unless you are hosting or non-profit)
Now you are ready to register a name
Once you come up with a list of domain names, head over to network solutions to find if it is available. The reason I use them, is they have the ability to search for multiple domains at once (put in 10 names then search).
Again only purchase through network solutions if you are going to use the builder there. Otherwise just head back over to your host and set up a hosting account.
If you have not done so already. Check for your personal name and see if its available. If it is, then get that too. Down the road, you will be able to use this for family, and or personal online identity management. You’ll be glad you did it.
Domain names are not case sensitive so remember when you right your domain anywhere to use an uppercase letter to distinguish the words. For example: ThisIsOurCompanyName.com vs thisisourcompanyname.com