A lot. It is, in fact, an entire industry. But first, what’s a domain name?
Your domain name is your address on the web. It contains, usually, two parts. The first is the name and the second is the extension. Both of these parts are equally important, although one of them is often overlooked. Let’s start with the name itself.
IBM, Nike, Apple. None of these companies likely had much discussion about what they were going to use for a domain name because each of those companies had 2 things going for them. First, each had a recognizable name. Second, each of them had a very short and simple name. So, you have to ask yourself, when coming up with your domain name… do either of these apply to me?
If your company’s name is recognizable, then you’re probably golden. If people know your company and people would recognize your name, then it makes sense to use your name. But what if your name is close to another company’s name? What if you’re “MacDonald’s Plumbing” and your main competitor, who most people know, is “MacDonald’s Plumbing and Heating”? Should you still try to register your business name as your domain?
Have you ever heard the term, Master of Your Domain? It means, are you on control of your world, and that’s the way you need to think about your domain name. Are you the biggest and the best in your field and do people recognize your name? If so, by all means, use your business name as your online identity. But if not, and that’s not a terrible thing, you need to think about creative ways to drive web traffic. In the above case, maybe you want to go with “thebestplumber” or “plumbing(insert community name here)”. The point is that the name of your business does not ALWAYS have to be the name of your domain. There are circumstances where it’s probably not a good idea. Here is an example.
Let’s say you are the proud owner of a successful pen company called Pen Island. Maybe penisland.com is NOT the best domain name for you. Sounds ridiculous, but this is in fact a real domain name owned by a real pen company. The point is that you always want to think about what your name REALLY says. What if someone misspells your name?
Many companies with hard to spell or often misspelled names will register some of the common errors as well, and point that name to your domain name. Here are some examples. If a company’s name was Jerry Smith Homes (a fake real estate agency I just made up. Any similarity to real people is entirely coincidental), they may decide to register JerrySmithHomes, GerrySmithHomes, GerrySmythHomes, JerrySmythHomes, etc. in an effort to ensure that anyone trying to find you, can find you. Misspell google the next time you’re typing it in and see what happens.
Now there’s the short part. Short and sweet is how you want to do it. Call it lazy or call it efficient, but you don’t want to make it difficult to get to you. Again, let’s look at some examples of what I mean. If the name of your company is John Johnson Super Fun Time Consultants (a ridiculous team building company that I just made up. Any similarity to real people is entirely coincidental, and also a little silly). When you’re registering your domain, you probably don’t want to use JohnJohnsonSuperFunTimeConsultants.com. You might want to go with JJFuntTime. Or, you may want to look at changing your business name. But the point is, it needs to be easy. Maybe you have a business name that is commonly misspelled. Maybe the name of your company is Synergistic Supplements. Point made? Great. On to extensions.
To .com or not to .com, that is the question. Do you want to be Apple.ca or Apple.com. Well, to be honest, you want to be both. Ideally, you want to register the common extensions of your domain name, for two reasons.
- Mistakes. Do you want your customers to HAVE to remember if you were .com or .ca or do you want to ensure that every possible variation of your name leads to you. All roads lead to you on the internet.
- Squatting. This is the ugly side of the internet. Many people will purchase names or variations of names in order to achieve an outcome for themselves. This happens in a couple of different ways. The first is when someone takes a common or popular domain name and registers the .com or .ca version for themselves and then places their own business on that site. It may be a similar industry, or entirely different, but the individual is counting on people trying to get to your site, but getting to theirs instead. This is also incredibly common where people will register SIMILAR domain names, such as waalmart.com, appple.com, or hewlettpacker.com. They’re counting on getting people to their sites using, essentially, false advertising. The second type of squatting is far more insidious. People will register domain names BEFORE you get there. For example, individuals will see that an emerging or existing company does not own their domain name, will purchase that domain name and then attempt to sell it to the actual company for a profit. Or, if you for some reason let your domain name expire, some people will snatch up that domain name and sell it back to the company for a tidy sum. (For those of you who watch the FX series, The League, Season 4 Episode 1 deals with this issue).
Don’t leave things to chance. If you want to make a name for yourself, make sure it’s a good name. You don’t ant to be wondering why no one is ordering products from your wonderful website which can be found at penisland.com.
Not sure what your domain name should be? At OneRedCat we help our clients find the right domain name and secure it so that they are driving web traffic to their site in a positive way. We can help.