How to Choose an Effective Domain Name for Your Small Business
The selection of a domain name for your company's website -- a process that can be more taxing than trying to name your company -- is one of the most important decisions you will make with regard to the full scope of your online marketing strategy. In the absence of a domain name that's simple, memorable, and pertinent to your business or your customers, the full potential of your website -- and possibly even your business -- may never be realized.
A Key Brand Communicator
What is the value of a strong domain name? According to Steve Dalton, director of business development for Golden Technologies, a prominent U.S.-based leader in website development and design, "Your digital address is as important now as any of your key brand communicators." Dalton, like others in online marketing and strategic business planning, agrees that a good domain name can go a long way in determining how you and your business are ultimately remembered.
Planning is Pivotal
"Small businesses, like any size business," Dalton says, "need to be mindful of choosing a domain name carefully. Key priorities should be focused on memorability and ease of verbally communicating the web address. How many times have you had to have someone spell and re-spell their website name because they chose one that didn’t sound natural? If the dot-com version of your name is not available, it’s highly important to check out what kind of company has the dot-com version. There are numerous stories of poor planning and research leading to a competitor or even worse having a name that resembles yours. Some of the examples are very embarrassing."
The Master of Your Domain
What is the formula for success when it comes to picking an effective domain name for your business? Most experts agree that for the sake of brand management and consistency, it's important to create a website address that incorporates the name of your company, organization, or product in some fashion. However, because domain names are in great demand and largely picked over, it's likely that your first choice will be unavailable. So when you return to the drawing board to hash out a new name that captures the nature or essence of your business, aim to meet the following criteria:
- The domain name must be original, personalized, and short.
- It should be easy to pronounce and spell.
- Keywords are essential for search engine optimization (if you own a towing company, "towing" should be in your domain).
- It should be free of "creative misspellings."
Closing The Deal on Your Dot-Com
Once you select the winning -- and available -- domain name, register the domain with a credible domain registrar (like Godaddy.com or Register.com). Since most non-premium domain names can be secured for one to ten years for as little as $10 annually, there's no great expense associated with most domain registrations. As a result, if your marketing budget allows, it may be wise to purchase multiple domains, all of which can be redirected to your primary domain. If, for example, you have a company or brand name that is easily misspelled, secure the alternate or incorrectly spelled domain, too. If you've ever visited www.gooogle.com (note the three O's) only to be swiftly redirected to www.google.com, you'll understand the value of this technique.
Domain Names Don't Do All The Work
Many small business owners new to the world of online marketing mistakenly believe that a clever, pertinent domain name will work wonders to generate big traffic and, subsequently, big business. Unfortunately, while the importance of securing a superior domain cannot possibly be understated, how you ultimately develop and utilize your chunk of digital real estate is just as important.
To learn more about developing a comprehensive online marketing plan, check out the Intuit Small Business Blog's Step By Step Guide to Online Success.
Michael Essany is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.