You’ve heard it, the key to a successful business is “location, location, location.” Now more than ever this is the case, given that we are a digitally connected, global society.
Gone are the days of flipping through stacks of Yellow Pages to find a repair shop. In 2015, we press a button on our smart phone and ask for whatever we are looking for. Within seconds, an array of choices are at our fingertips. What this also means for a business model that didn’t exist during the heyday of the Yellow Pages, is that it can now have a life of it’s own because of the internet.
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store on Main Street, or are operating an e-commerce on the information super highway, your business gets to be found in the world wide web where a domain name is registered every second.
Here are four tips to consider when determining a successful domain name for your business within today's internet:
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1. Your Domain Name Reflects Your Business Name
If you’re an established business that’s been around since the pre-internet revolution, or maybe just slow in getting up to speed, your domain name options may be limited.
However, if you’re now starting a company, then coming up with the right name is relative to your available domain name options. For maximum impact, or really any impact at all, your company name must first belong to you on the internet. So, before you make that business name official on paper, make it official on the World Wide Web.
According to Verisign, by the end of 2014 there were over 240 million registered domain names. Chances are that the domain name you want is already taken, therefore you’ll need to be flexible. Lean Domain Search allows you to explore various incarnations of your business' key words and learn what is currently available.
For example, a key word search of the word “hair” pulls up almost 2,000 various domain names with the word “hair” that are up for grabs. Some of these search sites can also inform you whether or not that same name is available on Twitter, another factor to consider before building a social media profile.
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As an entrepreneur and business owner, you want to think outside the box and be creative. When it comes to your domain name, being too creative can be counter intuitive. Avoid complicated spellings in honor of traditional grammar. After all, think about verbal communication with others; you don’t want to have to constantly tell people that your website name and business email address have the word “kids” spelled with “a Q and a Z.”
By staying consistent with simple words and spellings, you increase your reach and avoid typographical errors. “Short and to the point is ideal,” says Jahu Kopenen, CEO of Swap.com the largest online consignment store: “Today most people are accessing the internet through their mobile device. If your domain is short and easy to spell, customers will be able to connect to you immediately by inputting text on a phone and tablet sized keyboard or through voice recognition.”
3. .Com is Still King
When people refer to a tissue, they commonly refer to it as a Kleenex. However, Kleenex is a brand name, not the item itself. The same general concept applies to people’s perception of the internet. People overwhelming think in terms of “.com” despite there being a variety of extensions out there today ranging from “.attorney” to “.pizza” with many industries in between.
The “.com” was the first and the foremost, derived exactly 30 years ago to signify the commercial intent of the internet. Of all the Top Level Domains (TLD) registered, 75 percent of websites are domains ending with “.com.” It looks official, and positively affects your website's Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Unless you can register your domain name across the board with the top three, .com, .net and .org, move on and find another name. What good will it do you if your company has the .net name, while somebody else has the exact same name with the .com? Inevitably, your customers are going to wind up going to the wrong site.
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4. The Great Debate: Key Words Verses Branding
If you own a chain of local hot dog stands, having the words “hot dog” in your domain can be key. After all, if a customer is having a late night craving for hot dogs and asks Siri, “Where’s the nearest hot dog stand?” - the word “hot dog” helps them find you.
In an age where technology and culture have merged and evolved so rapidly, anything is possible. Rules are being broken and rewritten. There was a time when the experts said it was essential to have industry descriptive words in your domain name. According to this rationale, we should have all popularized a website with the name “Videos Online” instead of YouTube.
However, with just about every common word filling up domain names in a wide array of variations, companies are moving away from exact domain names and gravitating towards brandable websites. The words Tumblr, Zillow and Groupon in any other era would sound like utter nonsense. Today, they are common cultural references and billion dollar businesses.
For many, this is a complex issue with no immediate, right or wrong answers. It deserves careful consideration when weighing the options for naming your business.
Most of us aren’t setting out for total world domination, or to change the face of human culture forever via the internet. We’re just looking to stake our claim in the business world and for customers to come calling. That success will be determined by what we name our “location, location, location.”