When a business decides to go online, one of the first questions that pop up usually pertains to the domain name to use. A domain name is a web address people use to locate websites online. A house without an address is a pretty difficult house to find. Likewise, a website without a domain name is practically a ghost-untraceable.
As Brendan from Umbrellar Cloud Hosting says, “Your web address is the first contact potential customers have with you.” Put simply, it’s how they find you. This further validates the influence of a domain name in your business’s online presence and success. And this article will help you explore the main aspects a domain name every businessperson should know about.
What Makes Up a Domain Name?
A domain name is made up of three parts: the top-level, second-level, and third-level domains.
- The Top-Level Domains (TLDs) are obviously the highest level of domain names and can be either generic top-level domains (gTLDs) like [dot]com, [dot]auto, and [dot]tokyo or country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like [dot]uk, [dot]nz, and [dot]us. Every full domain name ends with a TLD. Therefore, in www.example.blog, [dot]blog is the TLD.
- Under, and to the left of, the TLDs are the Second-Level Domains (SLDs), which website owners are allowed to create. When someone talks about creating a domain name for their business, the second-level domain is the focus. With TLDs, all you have is a big list of options to choose from. But with the second-level domains, you have the freedom to create the name you want. In www.example.blog, ‘example’ is the second-level domain.
- The Third-Level Domain is used to refer to a particular host server. While www (meaning world wide web) refers to a web server and is typically the default third-level domain, a company that has a file transfer protocol (FTL) server can use ftl.example.com and another that has an email server can use mail.example.com. It all depends on the function of the server. A server used for a support service can thus be designated ‘support’ and you would have support.example.com.
Learn more about the hierarchy of domain names here.
How to Choose Your Business Domain Name?
When choosing a domain name for your business, your focus should be on the TLD and SLD, how you can make them reflect your brand, and how your prospective website visitors will perceive your domain name. Here are some tips that can help you choose a great domain name for your company.
- Your Domain Name Has to Be Memorable
When a domain name is memorable, it’s easy to remember, particularly because it’s special or peculiar.
- If you don’t want to go for something short, which is easier to remember, then make sure that that long name you have chosen is catchy or unique enough to leave a mark on anyone that sees or hears it.
- When it’s easy to pronounce and spell, it’s equally easy to remember.
- If you want to use misspellings like Flickr and Tumblr did, go ahead. But to get people to identify with your brand online and begin to see the misspelt word in your domain as an actual word, be ready to put in as much marketing effort as Flickr and Tumblr did. Otherwise, you will end up losing much traffic to another domain using the correct spelling.
- Avoid numbers. They are for computers. Humans find words easier to remember.
- The hyphen just looks odd in a domain name, and no one enjoys typing it.
- Keywords Are Great If Available
Using a generic keyword or two in a domain is great when you are targeting type-in traffic or better search engine optimisation. But with domain investors having registered the bests of such keywords, fixating on using keywords in your domain might be a waste of time you can invest in leveraging other tips on how to choose a great domain. Many big companies of today don’t use generic keywords in their domains, yet their websites are thriving.
- A Branded Domain Name Is Perfect
Your domain name is your unique online address, your business’ online identity. Will seeing or mentioning this domain name make people think about my company? That’s the question you should ask yourself. Think about big companies like Google, Yahoo, Amazon… Their domain names are branded, and they are thriving.
- You might want to consider using your business name as your domain name. Most companies do that.
- Also, avoid using a domain name that is similar to that of a competitor.
- Is your business designed for a specific country? Use the country code top-level domain for that country. Otherwise, favour the [dot]com TLD.
- Since your domain name represents your brand online, trademark it to safeguard it from competitors and cybersquatters.
- Also check to verify that the domain name doesn’t infringe on any trademark or you risk losing years of efforts on the domain and, perhaps, thousands of dollars when a lawsuit comes and takes it away from you.
- If you have the resources, then register your domain name under other relevant gTLDs to protect your brand.
- Look into the History of Your Domain Name
This is very important, as you don’t know who has used the domain in the past and for what. Another question is: why did this person drop the domain name? This is a genuine cause for concern and shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it could be that the previous owner of the domain engaged in illegal or unethical online activities and has been blacklisted by Google. The last thing you want is to inherit whatever ugly past such a domain has. Here are tools for checking the history of domain names.
Other Things You Should Keep in Mind When Registering Your Domain Name
Register Your Domain in Your Name
Domain names number among the most valuable online assets. It’s no wonder many people are into the business of buying and selling domains. To ensure that your domain name is yours, register it on your own and in your name. Registering a domain is as simple as visiting a registrar’s website, checking the availability of your chosen domain, and checking out with your credit or debit card.
But if you must use someone else to register it, make sure the person registers it in your name and that they provide you with the login details of your domain account. Also, don’t hesitate to log in and change the username and password, and make sure that the email address used for the registration is yours. Otherwise, the person can log in anytime and transfer the domain to their own domain account. And you would be left with losing your years of work on the domain and settling for another domain name.
Always Lock Your Domains
After registering your domain, you will find an option to lock it. Please do. That way, no one can transfer your domain without you being notified via your email for verification.
Auto Renewal Is Good
There are many online tools for discovering domain names that are about to expire. Many domain investors use these tools. This means that when you fail to renew your domain registration on time, you risk domainers discovering that your domain has expired and thus registering it. You might end up paying thousands of dollars to recover the domain. Therefore, it may be wise to opt in for the auto-renewal option so you don’t have to worry about your domain expiring without you knowing.
There Is an Option for Domain Privacy
When you register a domain name, the registration details, including your name, phone number, email, and address are recorded publicly in the WHOIS database. This means that anyone can access your personal information simply by searching for your domain name on the WHOIS website. So spammer, scammers, and internet marketers can easily retrieve your info and send you malicious business offers.
For as little $15 or less, most domain registrars can help protect your privacy and thus save you and your business from potentials spammers and scammers by using dummy registration details on your domain’s WHOIS record.
By now, it’s already obvious to you that your domain name is, perhaps, your business’ most valuable asset. Therefore, choose wisely, and cherish and safeguard it.