Your Domain Name and You

Ok, so your domain name is important; it’s quite important actually.  A domain name can tell a potential client a lot about your business, and that’s before they even head to your website.  A domain name will be where someone finds your website, where all of your emails come from, and will appear on every piece of marketing you do from when you get a domain up until… well… ever.

It looks like an easy enough process: go to a registrar, enter the domain name, and click the “purchase” button.  But you need to put a lot more thought into the process which they don’t explain on those websites.

Dot-what?

.com is still king.  It will be king for a long time until we are forced not to buy .com addresses any more

The first decision has to do with what extension you are using.  The extension is the part that occurs after the dot and is important because when choosing a domain name, the each extension has its own allowance for domain names separate from each other… for example company.com and company.ca can be owned by two different people and go to two different websites.  Extensions have also had an increase in options appear over the last few years.  But what one should you choose, and should you choose more than one?

The answer is that unless you have a specific reason not to, .com is still king.  It will be king for a long time until we are forced not to buy .com addresses any more, or it becomes too difficult to get a name that.  It doesn’t mean that any other extension cannot be used or you should feel worse about using them, but where you can, get .com secured.  .net is another extension which is accepted as common place and can be used if needed.

The reason .com is king is simply because people will default to that when remembering your address… tell a person that your site is company.co may turn into company.com in their memory over the course of the day.  This is why the new addresses such as .co will also not take over for .com for quite some time.

When to use another extension

Sometimes you just have to decide to use another domain name though.  Say your company is named something common like “A1” or “Triple A”, it’s going to be hard to get a domain name close to what you want based on the naming rules below, and it is at that point that using a1financial.co is better than using a1financialserviceslimited.com.  Just know that your potential client may accidentally look at whatever is at .com, so make sure it isn’t a direct competitor.

I want my domain to be short, easy to remember, and witty

Different people want different things from their domains.  Some people are positive that their city should be in a domain name.  Others stand by the idea that the sector of business they are in should be found somewhere in it. 

The short answer is that you should pick something that can be remembered at the end of a work day.  It doesn’t matter what else you choose, and you’ve already chosen a company name so hopefully you like it, but as long as it can be remembered then you have chosen a good domain name.  With that one rule aside, here are some helpful guidelines.

  • The shorter the better:  the shorter the domain name, the easier it is to remember.  If your name is direct international productions ltd, perhaps think about directint.com or directproductions.com
  • You don’t need to include extras: what you do, where you are, and how you do it doesn’t need to be in your domain name.  Google will find it in your website, so telling people where you are located in your domain name is unnecessary.
  • Make the domain something that you can verbally communicate to someone; they won’t always have your business card or an email in front of them, so you should be able to tell them your address over the phone or in person.
  • Write it down and then look at it.  Have someone else look at it too.  I am reminded of the famous (or infamous) website for a pen company called “Pen Island” that has the domain name www.penisland.net.  5 minutes with that domain name could have saved them this misfortune.
  • Make sure it cannot be spelled too many other ways.  I know that our name can go by chewymedia.com or chewiemedia.com, so we aren’t following all of the rules perfectly, but if you can make sure that you aren’t spelling out the name 5 times over the phone.

What’s wrong with my email?

Additionally, it also sends a subconscious message that you are serious about what you do

Alright, the domain name is purchased and you love it.  It’s short, easy to remember, doesn’t spell into anything unfortunate, and you aren’t repeating the spelling 5 times.  So why are you not using it every day?

Most people still use their old email addresses for business these days.  Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, internet service provider emails… you are advertising their businesses for free every time you send an email.  In business, perception is important, so why not leverage something like a professional company email address using your own domain name.  You don’t even need to get rid of your old AOL email either; just forward the email domain to your old email if you like; but please start giving out your new domain name based email address.  Using an email address with your domain name also helps drive a small amount of web traffic to your website in the form of curious email recipients.  Additionally, it also sends a subconscious message that you are serious about what you do; and it’s one of the easier things you will do with your domain name.

1 fish 2 fish, red… yeah ok

So do you have to choose just one?  The answer is no… please choose as many as you think you need.  There is no need to go over-board (no need to grab 100 domain names here), but by all means grab the .ca and .co of your domain at the same time; ensuring no one else can get accidental clicks is a good way to be and can prevent a competitor from snatching up a domain name.  Slogans, alternate spellings, and common errors if there are spelling errors are also a good idea; as is your trade name if you can get that too.  All of these domain names can be pointed to the same website, so there is no worry in how many you do get.

Take it seriously; but not too seriously.

A domain name can be serious business, but it should also be fun.  Getting a domain name is an exciting time; it’s like staking out your own plot of land in the frontier known as the internet.  It’s up to you to decide how you want to be viewed; and definitely should be taken into account when deciding branding strategies.