A Domain Name
Your web address, or Domain name is your online headquarters. Think of it as your street address on the web.
If you are choosing a domain name, remember the K.I.S.S. principle. Ideally, it should have the following characteristics:
- Descriptive – Can you determine the product or service a business provides, just by reading the domain name?
- AcmeWidgetCompany.com is more descriptive than tftgi.com (a company I once owned).
- Easy to communicate – Have you ever had someone give you their web address verbally? Hyphens and misspellings may seem like a good idea on paper, but are difficult to convey in conversation.
- Krazy-Kuts.com looks fine in print. But giving that URL or email address verbally may cause problems for some people.
- Easy to remember – words and phrases are easier to remember than strings of consonants and numbers
- Your domain name should not cause people to get tongue-tied just saying it out loud.
- Shorter is better
- How long should it be? Only as long as it needs to be. But not any longer.
Do You Need a Domain?
When was the last time you picked up the Yellow Pages and went in search of a business?
Whether to order a pizza or buy a pair of shoes, most people today simply pick up their phone, or open a browser on their desktop and look for the product or service they want online.
My wife is an executive with a multinational commercial real estate company. When adding vendors to accounts payable, they always check to make sure the business is legitimate. Can you guess what is the first step in that process?
To paraphrase an old saying:
Just because you have a website does not mean you will win the customer. But you will lose business if you do not.
A web presence, has become a necessity, if only to verify that you are an ongoing concern.
Choosing a TLD
Every domain name has two parts: The unique name you come up with, on the left side of the “dot” and the part on the right side of the “dot.” The part of your domain name that sits on the right hand side of the “dot” is the Top Level Domain (TLD).
With the rapid increase in the number of web sites, it’s no wonder “all the good .com’s are taken.” Fortunately, there are a lot more TLD’s available these days. From .cab to .tattoo, from .club to .store, there is a name that suits your needs.
Make sure that you consider how easy it is to remember, and spell, your domain. Long domain names that run together are easier on the eyes if you capitalize the words, like BobTheBuilder.Construction.
Another option to consider is a country code domain. However, you must be careful here. According to Google, your choice of TLD does not affect your search rankings, unless that TLD is a country code. If your website is a .uk it is probably in the United Kingdom. If your website is a .de it is most likely going to be in Germany. While .in means you are probably located in India.
HOWEVER… there is an exception to this as well. There are country code extensions that Google (and others) treat as “generic.” Which means they work just like a .com.
- .bz – assigned to Belize, often used as “business”
- .co – assigned to Columbia, often used as “company.”
- .io – assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory, also known as the Chagos Archipelago. Often used by tech companies because of the “input/output” computer reference.
- .me – assigned to Montanegro, often used for personal sites.
- .tv – assigned to the islands of Tuvalu, often used for video sites
- .ws – assigned to Samoa, often used for personal sites because it brings to mind “web site.”
For a continually updated list of generic country codes, see the Google Search Console help page on International targeting.
Do You Need a .com?
The short answer is no. However, you should carefully consider what is available before choosing.
If you simply must have a .com domain, then you still have some options:
- You can come up with a unique name (“groomingphydeaux.com”), a unique spelling (“krazykutshaircuttery.com”), or a twist on an existing domain (“aa-aardvark-taxi.com”). However, this tends to cause problems with being easy to communicate, and spell.
- Another solution is to shop for your domain name on the secondary market. What that means is, you will purchase your domain name from someone who has already registered that name, and has offered it for sale. However, shopping for domains on the secondary market can be an expensive proposition. So unless you have a plan to hit the ground running, and the capital required for acquisition, then it may not be the best alternative.
What About My Facebook Page?
On the other hand, you no longer own your content. Instead you become a “digital sharecropper.”
You are planting your flag on someone else’s property. That property is controlled by someone else, and they make the rules (Terms of Service), which can change at any time.
Most importantly, according to the Terms of Service (ToS), you do not own the content you post on a social media site.
The more content that users create, the more valuable Facebook becomes, and the higher their advertising rates. You receive attention for your posts and comments, while the social media site receives money.
“One of the fundamental economic characteristics of Web 2.0 is the distribution of production into the hands of the many, and the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few. It’s a sharecropping system, but the sharecroppers are generally happy because their interest lies in self-expression or socializing, not in making money.”
Digital Sharecropping, by Nicholas Carr
Read Copyblogger’s article on why Digital Sharecropping is the most dangerous threat to your content marketing strategy, by Sonia Simone.
Don’t Stop Using Social Media!
Social media provides the opportunity for a mutually beneficial partnership. Rather than discouraging their use, I want you to take full advantage of the benefits available from social media.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like, each provide a separate doorway to your own site and your sales funnel. If you act with this in mind, your business will thrive, even if your favorite social media sites shuts down.
How Do I Get My Own Domain?
Somewhere between three and five million domain names are registered every single day. And somebody has to keep track of it all. That somebody is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and numbers (ICANN). According to Wikipedia, ICANN “is a nonprofit organization that is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces of the Internet, ensuring the network’s stable and secure operation.”
However, you can’t just go to ICANN’s website and register your domain name. That is handled by companies that have been accredited by ICANN to act as registrars for the Top Level Domains.
Domain Name Registrars
A domain name registrar is a company that manages and tracks domain name registrations and their owners. Similar to the way the Superior Court Clerk records the real estate deeds in your county.
Remember those three to five million domains registered every day? Search for “register a domain name,” and you will see a results page full of ads and affiliate sites. In short, it’s a big business with a lot of players.
Which Registrar Should I Use?
Both of these have been fine companies to work with. Both have excellent customer service, as well as reasonable pricing.
In 2013, I switched largely from Godaddy to Namecheap. The sole reason for my switch was the interface. I prefer websites that are spartan and uncluttered like Namecheap.com.
If you have never registered a domain name before, I recommend Godaddy. Their customer service department is top notch, and they make it easy to purchase ancillary products with your domain name.