How to Choose a Proper Domain Name: One of the First Steps of Starting an Online Business

Published on April 7th, 2013 by | Category: Website

Choosing a proper domain is one of the first steps of running an online business. Some people prefer to start their online business with free websites/blogs, but that is not a good idea at all. I got burned once because of this mistake. Therefore, if you are serious to start an online business, you have to register your own domain name. This is the first and most important thing you have to consider. In this article, I am not going to explain why you should register your own domain, because I am sure most people know it. While nowadays you can register a domain for $10-15 a year, which is almost nothing to be considered as an expense, why should you not to do it, and go through the hassle of spending your valuable time on the free websites or blogs?

So, if you are serious to start and promote an online business, choosing and registering a domain name is the first and one of the most important steps. It is much easier than what you think. You can easily choose a domain registration service like GoDaddy, sign up for an account with it and then search for a domain, choose a proper domain which is available to be registered by you, and register it. This is very easy to do, but, what is a proper domain name for a business, or an online business? This is what I am going to focus on, in this article.

Before you think about choosing a domain name, you have to decide about the nature of the online business you want to start. If you have not decided about the nature of the business, and you have not chosen a niche yet, then you have to do it first, and choose a domain name after that. It needs several articles to talk about choosing an online business and niche, in general. In this article, I am talking about choosing the domain names.

What Are the Most Important Factors You Have to Consider When Choosing a Domain Name?

Although choosing a domain name is highly dependent on the nature of the business, there are several general factors that you have to consider, no matter what kind of online business you have:

1. You Domain Name Should Be As Short As Possible

Long domain names are too hard to remember. You may say that nobody is supposed to remember your domain name, because whenever someone wants to refer to your site, he can easily google and find it. This is true, but still it is better to choose a short domain name. It has several advantages:

  • It is easier to memorize and remember a short domain name. Therefore, your website users, customers, subscribers and… can easily visit your website whenever they want, without having to refer to the list of their bookmarked sites.
  • When you have a short domain name, it is less likely to make a typo and going to a different site, while entering the website address in the browser address bar.
  • A short domain name looks and sounds more beautiful and professional than a long one.
  • When you have a short domain name, people can talk about your site on the other sites and discussion boards more easily. For example, now everybody knows this website as HowToee which is very easy to remember and talk. What if I had registered a domain like this: LearnToStartAnOnlineBusiness.com? I don’t think that people  would show any tendency to discuss about the site on the forums and other blogs.

Therefore, the shorter and simpler the domain name, the better.

2. A Domain Name That Describes the Business Is More Preferred

This is possible by having the main keyword/phrase in the domain name, while you are aware that you should not make the domain name too long and have too many words in it. For example, if your site/blog is supposed to be about swimming, a domain like HowToSwim.com would be perfect (if it was available of course). Although it is a short domain name, it describes the business properly and precisely. This will be a great domain name, however, it is somehow impossible to find such domain names available for registration, unless your business is very new, and it is not too competitive yet, and so it is still possible to find some free domain names with its related and on topic keywords/phrases. You have to spend some time and find the best possible choice. Sometimes I spend several hours to choose a proper keyword/phrase to register a domain name.

While looking for a free domain name to register, you find so many other options. For example, if you choose GoDaddy to search for the domain names, it always lists the for sale domains (premium domains), and also the domains that are listed on GoDaddy Auctions. Sometimes you are lucky enough to find a good domain name, which is short, descriptive and meaningful enough with a low and affordable price. However, keep in your mind that although a good domain name is very important, in most cases it does not worth to spend thousands of dollars on it. Maybe it was good in the past, but not anymore. For example, when I was searching for a domain for this website, and I used different derivatives of the “how to” phrase, I found out that howtohowto.com was available through GoDaddy auctions for $4000. I wanted to buy it, but then I asked myself why? Did I have to, or would it have an important role on the success of the site? The answer was no. The success of the website I wanted to create was dependent on the content of the site. Although howtohowto.com is a relatively good domain name, it did not worth to spend $4000 on it. I see that it is still available through GoDaddy auctions, and its price has gone up dramatically and is $8700 now. Even if it was $1000, still I would not buy it.

However, there are some cases that it really does worth to spend money on a domain name. For example, I see that HowtoGetPregnant.com is for sale for $34,377.00. It looks too expensive, but it does worth the price. I tell you why:

If you refer to Google keyword tool, and enter How to Get Pregnant, and check the [Exact] at the left side of the page, you will see that this key phrase has a global monthly search of 1,000,000 which is amazing:

google keyword tool

Now, if you refer to google.com and search for this phrase, you will see that there are only 52,400,000 pages listed, which means How to Get Pregnant as a popular key phrase is not too competitive, and so it is not too hard for HowtoGetPregnant.com to be ranked on the first page, and even as the first link. Of course, in addition to the domain name, ranking depends on several different factors like the quality of the content of the site, back-links and…, but if designed and promoted properly, HowtoGetPregnant.com can easily be the most eligible site to be ranked as the first site on the Google search result page. It is a very strong domain name, with the a very popular, yet not a very competitive key phrase, short and meaningful enough, both for the search engines and internet users.

google search

Please don’t get me wrong. This domain is not mine, and I am not trying to convince you to buy it. It is possible that I buy it myself 🙂

Now, lets get back to the howtohowto.com and compare it with HowtoGetPregnant.comHowtohowto.com is too general. People will not google for “how to”. With having this domain, I am not going to be listed on the first search result page even for “how to” itself. If the domain was howto.com, I would be on the first page after few months, but not with howtohowto.com. The only advantage it has is that it looks like a cute and beautiful simple domain name. That is all. So does it worth to spend $7800, $4000, or even $1000 on it? Of course not. HowToee.com or similar domains can easily do the same thing. Maybe even HowToee.com is a better domain name that I registered for $10.

You have to be careful not to waste your money on this. If you find a premium domain name and it attracts your attention, you have to be careful, think twice, and ask for the more experienced people about it. Sometimes you spend lots of money on a domain name, but then you will realize that you have wasted your money. Happened to me several times, before I learn. Sometimes I easily allowed a domain that I had bought for hundreds of dollars, to be expired, because it did not even worth to renew it for $10 for another year. But I was lucky enough to find great domains too, and I have been able to recover my mistakes. I hear some people make terrible mistakes in buying domains. They pay thousands of dollars for worthless domain names, just because they are listed as premium domains on GoDaddy. That is pure stupidity. For example, I see that a worthless domain like Wtocom.com is for sale at the price of $21,788!!! Or HowtoVideo.org is $4,800 to buy. I would not spend even $10 to register a domain like Wtocom.com. Is there anything valuable in this domain, while I can register a similar domain like Dtocom.com for $12.99 which is of course a meaningless and worthless domain too (it is available to register. You can check and see it). In spite of this, I know that some people will be fooled, and will buy such a worthless domains like Wtocom.com.

Anyway!

The conclusion is that, if you can register a domain that describes the business while it is still short and meaningful enough, go for it. And while you are looking for a domain, if you find a good and strong premium domain with an affordable price, go for it. Otherwise, just choose a short and meaningful domain name and start your website.

The other thing is that, although it is better that the domain name describes the business, it is not a must. It is the website content that tells the search engines about the theme and topic of the site. If the domain helps the content in this, that is even better. If not, it is still ok, because the content is the main thing for the search engines. For example, a domain like SirLook.com can be focused on search engine optimization, or internet marketing, while there is no word in the domain name that describes such businesses. It is the content of the site that will categorize the site under a special sector, or will focus on a special niche. If the domain helps the site content in this, that is even better, but it doesn’t mean that we have to spend thousands of dollars just on the domain name.

3. Avoid Having Numbers and Hyphens In Your Domain Name

For example, do not register domains like work-at-home-business-opportunities.com, or blogging123.com.

Nowadays, it is a little hard to find 5 or 6 letters domain names, specially if you try to choose meaningful words. Most of them are already taken. Therefore, you are forced to try the longer names, or add numbers and hyphens to it. You’d better to search more and find a domain name without any hyphen and number. You can try a little longer domain names. It is still better than having hyphens or numbers in your domain names.

4. Try to Register .com Domains

.com domains are the most preferred ones. Try to do your best to find a suitable .com domain. However, there are a few things that you have to consider:

  • If you have a local business, and your customers are local customers, then it is strongly recommended to choose the  related localized extensions. For example, if you have a Canadian business, you should register a .ca domain. Google trusts and ranks local businesses’ websites faster than .com websites. You can then register your business at Google Local and add your website address to your listing. It is free. If you do so, in addition to the organic listing you will have on Google search result page, you will have a special listing on Google maps, and you will receive loads of targeted traffic for free. Free targeted traffic is MONEY!
  • If you have a non-profit organization, then you can register a .org domain, although a .com domain still works for such an organization too.
  • If you could not find a good .com domain, but the same name is available with a .net or .org domain, you can go for it, but it is not recommended. You can still search for a good .com domain. There is no limit. If a keyword/phrase doesn’t work, try another one. Each business has too many related keywords/phrases.
  • Forget about the domains like .info, .biz, .ws and exotic extensions like that. Although some of them work and are ranked by the search engines sometimes, but nobody knows what will happen in future. For example it is possible that Google suddenly decides to remove .info domains from its index, and if this happens, thousands of hours of hard work can go down the drain. I have proofs for what I say. Google was used to disregard .info domains. It is a while that I see them on Google search result pages more frequently. However, it doesn’t mean that now Google has fallen in love with these domains. It is possible that they become totally banned next month. It is the same with .biz domains. When you don’t know what will happen, and when you have no control on the search engines like Google, then it is better not to do anything that can cause problems in future. I have never registered any .info or .biz domain.

5. See the Future Now

What do I mean by that? If you want to start an online business seriously, you have to see the future and the time that your site/blog will become popular. When you have chosen a domain name and you are about to register it for your online business, ask yourself does the domain deserve to be used as the domain and address of a popular and well-known site/blog, or I will have to change it in future. Some domain names are ok to start, but they do not look professional if the website becomes popular. For example, the howtohowto.com domain I already talked about. It is good to start, but it doesn’t look good to work as the address of a popular website. I think HowToee.com looks better and more professional.

If you want to start a blog which is not focused on any special business and niche, then it is recommended to use your first and last name for the domain name. For example, JohnSmith.com.

If your blog is focused on a special niche, and you have not been able to find a good .com domain name with the related keywords/phrases, you can still use your first and last name to register a domain name for it. The reason is that, one day your blog will become popular (of course if you keep on working on it and promoting it seriously), and people will know you as the owner and writer of this popular blog, and also as an expert in that niche. Your name will become a popular key phrase in that niche. Then your blog will look much more professional when the domain carries your name, because it not only says that it is you who promote the blog, but it also emphasizes that you are an expert in that sector, and will help more people know you and refer to you and your blog.

6. Don’t Worry If You Don’t Like the Domain You Have Registered

It is recommended to do your best to choose the best possible domain name for your online business, as one of the most important initial steps in starting an online business. However, if you made a mistake, or you came to this conclusion later that you do not like the domain, or it doesn’t look suitable and professional, you can easily register/buy another domain name, and redirect the old domain to the new one through an htaccess file (Redirect 301 command). The redirect 301 command tells the search engines that the old domain is permanently redirected to the new one. Therefore, search engines will easily and automatically update their index within a few days, and the old links will be substituted by the new links. Additionally, whenever someone enters your old domain name in the internet browser address bar, or clicks on its links on the other sites, the htaccess file redirects him to the new website in less than a few milliseconds. Therefore, you can easily switch to the new domain name at any time, without having to be worried about losing any of your website visitors, traffic, and even search engine ranking.

While you are working under one domain name, you can always look for better ideas. If you find a great opportunity to buy a good domain name with a cheap price, go for it and switch to it, but if it is a really great opportunity, otherwise it doesn’t worth the time and money you have to spend on it.

If you have been able to register a good domain name, then just focus on promoting the site, and do not spend any more time and money on the domain name (unless you want to run a new website and business under a different domain name).

Ok! 🙂

Do you want to run an online business, and you are thinking about the domain name?

Or you already have a business and you want to create a website for it, and so, you need to register a domain?

As it is explained above, domain name is very important for an online and also offline business. A good domain name chosen properly and professionally can boost your business dramatically. If you are at the stage of domain registration for your business and you need help, you can leave comments and ask for advice. Even if you are confident enough that you are choosing the right domain name, still you’d better to ask for the professionals advice and opinion.

What is your business about and what are the related keywords/phrases? Have you found them? Are there any good domain name with the related keywords/phrases available to register?

Let us help you with that 🙂

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