This post is by Giles Ellis, an experienced business coach and Director at GECA Chartered Accountants.
Domain names play a key role in how visitors to your website identify your business. This is precisely why you should spend sufficient time finding the domain name that best suits your brand. But finding a suitable name for your website is not always as simple as it looks: the name you want is already taken, the catchy four-letter domain is too costly, or you may just lack inspiration. Let’s look at how you can mount a successful search for the ideal domain.
Buying existing domain names
If you know the exact domain name you want, but someone else already owns it, you should begin by visiting their site to see what’s there. There is a chance that the current owner runs a similar business to yours and is fully utilising the domain; in this case, there is little chance of them selling it to you.
However, there are also many people who invest in domain names as others do in stocks and shares. They buy good names and either leave them idle or set up a generic landing page, often with a link for those interested in buying the name. In this case, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get your ideal name, though you may have to pay a premium price for it.
A third possibility is that the current owner hasn’t updated the site for a long time. They may have lost interest or their business may have closed, for example, but the site is still online. It’s definitely worth contacting the owner of a lapsed site to see if they will sell the name. You can find their details by checking the WHOIS information for the domain name: every domain must have a contact name and email address to retain registration.
It is important to understand that shorter names which can be easily pronounced are worth a lot more than long ones. Virtually all common English words have already been registered and demand extortionate prices as well, so you’ll need to be inventive – or willing to spend!
If your ideal domain name is unavailable or the price is too much for your budget, you can try looking for variations on the same name. This can be a long, arduous task, requiring hours of sitting in front of your computer, trying to come up with new ideas based on your business, then searching for them to see if they’re available. Thankfully, there’s a quicker alternative!
Online domain name generators, such as NameBoy or BustAName, create a large number of variants based around your chosen keywords, and they typically check availability as well. The advantages of using these tools are many:
- They help you find good names for your brand by using prefixes, suffixes and other keyword options
- They check domain name availability quickly, for all extensions
- They help you find ideas for names that you may not have considered
Remember, once you choose a domain name for your brand, it’s very difficult to move to a new one, so choose carefully. You should also be aware of wandering too far from your original idea: generators create so many different names that it’s easy to get distracted!
Exact match domains and slogans
The search engines used to give a significant ranking bonus to “exact match domains”. If your domain name matched your site’s keywords, the site ranked higher in search listings for those keywords. In other words, a site called “MakeMoneyOnline” (with any extension) which was built around the key phrase “make money online” ranked a lot better than a similar site with a different name. Recent changes have negated this ranking bonus.
If your business has a short tagline, you can also consider a longer domain name that still works well with your brand. Great examples are Nike’s “Just Do It” and Apple’s “Think Different”, both of which have been used as domain names to send more visitors to their main sites.
Whether you’re lucky enough to get the ideal domain name for your business or have to settle for a snappy alternative, always remember that your web address is an integral part of your business and brand. Treat it as an important investment in your future success.
If you’re ready to start thinking about using social media for your business, contact Giles Ellis – At GECA we’re family business accounting experts.