Choosing a Domain Name: Overcoming the Challenges
Although many businesses and brands enjoy the easy and clear choice of a domain name, others can discover that choosing an effective domain name can prove to be challenging. WalMart.com for example is a no-brainer for Wal Mart. MJ’s Custom Embroidery and Baby Gifts on the other hand must find a creative and likely abbreviated solution.
What To Choose?
A few rules of thumb are choosing a domain name that is easy to remember, is as brief as possible and one that suits your business model. MJsCustomEmbroideryandBabyGifts.com – while it rolls off the tongue quite nicely – is clearly way too long and cumbersome for potential customers and existing clients to remember. MJs.com would be a better choice, however without the apostrophe “s” the choice could lead to confusion. (Domain names can only use letters, numbers, and dashes. Spaces and symbols are not allowed and domain names are not case sensitive.) I’ve experienced confusion from clients for years having a simple dash in one of my own domains.
I’ve experienced confusion from clients for years having a simple dash in one of my own domains.
Another important element to consider is choosing a keyword friendly domain name. EmbroiderybyMJ.com for example outfits the business name and includes the keyword embroidery. Though bear in mind, Google has announced changes to be implemented in 2011 that will change their algorithm to rank pages with keyword heavy domain names differently than they have in days past, a penalty we must deal with as a result of others who have abused the system. Having said that, will Bing, Yahoo! and others follow Googles lead? It has been my observation over the years that the answer would be yes. And in short time.
Despite that little glimpse into the future of SEO and domain name keywords, I am still confident that a keyword friendly domain name is a wise choice. Should the Guru’s of search engine algorithms decide that keyword friendly domain names lose the ranking boost they once had, you’re still getting a name that reflects your business and what you do. I would advise however to play the keyword game with the search engines on the safe side and keep it simple. EmbroiderybyMJ.com tells the story with a quick keyword and identity, as opposed to EmbroideryInMichiganbyMJ.com which might trigger any of the algorithm changes we’re being warned about.
I Can’t Decide!
If your particular situation demands it, consider purchasing multiple domain names. With domains running as low as $7 per year the investment could be more affordable and effective than you’d think. EmbroiderybyMJ.com doesn’t state anything about the baby gifts, so why not pick up BabyGiftsbyMJ.com as well? You can purchase as many domains as you’d like and direct all of them to the same web site, or point them to specific pages within your web site to effectively drive traffic to your desired landing pages based on their interest.
The Dot Com Question
Is a .com domain necessary? The simple answer is no. EmbroiderybyMJ.net would work just as well as EmbroiderybyMJ.com. On the other hand, how many people type in .com – or remember a domain name by .com – as a force of habit? And if the .com domain is not available, would your .net domain name be directing your potential customers to a competitor if they typed in .com? The smart move is obvious. Do your best to get a .com extension, and to avoid any future issues with a competitor why not grab the .net domain as well.
Short story: In early 2010 I discovered a web site through Twitter that was using mydartshirt.com (I have mydartshirts.com and enjoy top level rankings and high traffic from the darts community worldwide). Had it occurred to me that might happen, I would have purchased that domain years ago and avoided having to contact them and make the arrangements for them to cease and desist. As I mentioned previously, as low cost as domains are taking the steps to cover yourself with a few of them is smart business.
Where To Start
Your first step is to visit WhoIs. There you can type in domain names you’ve considered and check for their availability. If your choice is not available, you can then begin trying other choices or modifying the choice you’re attempting to use. A great tool to use during this process is the Keyword-Rich Domain Suggestion Tool. This tool allows you to enter keywords and get results and suggestions that can make the process faster as well as offer domain names you may not have thought of.