You should think about registering a domain name before you actually do it. Many people come up with a catchy name, or feel the need to lock in their name, and rush out to buy a domain name. But there are several things to consider in your domain name. After all, your domain name is an extension of your business and your image—don't you want to project the right one?
These ten tips will help you to pick just the right domain name for you and/or your business.
1. The extension you select makes a statement to user about where you are and who you are aiming to attract. For example, .co.uk tells people you are operating out of the United Kingdom, and .ca tells them you are operating out of Canada. If that is important to you, then register accordingly. If you would rather give them impression of being a global company, or based in the US, then pick a .com name.
2. Use a reputable registration service. Unfortunately, some domain registration services are little more than a scam. They are only middlemen. You tell them the domain name you want, and they register it, for a fee higher than you would pay! In the worst case, they actually register the domain name using their information, so it becomes very difficult for you to do anything with your domain name.
Do some background research into the company before you register a domain with them.
3. Use keywords in your domain name. These will sometimes help search engines in ranking your website. For example, if you sell gourmet dog treats online and from your own store, but your business name is "Laura's Homemade Snacks," you might consider two domain names: one for your business name, and one for keywords. In this case you might select "gourmetdogtreats.com" as your domain name to represent to the search engines and searchers what you are about.
4. Short names are easier to spell correctly. What's easier to remember and type in: gourmetdogtreats.com, or laurashomemadeandgourmetdogsnacks.com?
5. Avoid trademarks from other companies. Companies have been known to sue website owners for copyright and trademark infringement, so be very careful if you try to play off an existing business. Make sure that you register a domain name in good faith, and think about the possibilities and connections that might exist between you and another business.
6. Avoid hyphens. Sometimes you must use hyphens because the straightforward name is gone. In that case, a better idea is to come up with a completely different name. The problem with hyphens is that users may end up visiting the wrong site. If you try to register gourmetdogtreats.com but it is already taken, you might choose to register gourmet-dog-treats.com instead. But you run the risk of someone trying to find you typing in the first address. This means you lose business. Better to try and register a name like homemadedogtreats.com instead.
7. Consider buying several different extensions so no one else can infringe on your success by registering a similar name. For example, if you register homemadedogtreats.com, you might also take .net and .org (with the same name), since these are the most popular extensions after .com. That way, no one can register homemadedogtreats.net and try to piggyback of your success.
8. Look for companies that offer telephone support. If you have trouble with your domain name, you need to be able to contact the company and talk to someone. If there is no phone contact, that may be a sign that you are not dealing with a reputable company.
9. Look for accreditations (i.e., ICANN). Reputable companies will seek out accreditations because they know it boosts their business image to be part of a group that enforces good business ethics and practices. Failure to have an accreditation does not necessarily mean the company is bad, but it could mean that. If the company you are looking at does not have an accreditation, make sure you check for other things like phone support, payment procedures, etc.
10. After you find a company you like, do a search on Google for "domain registration." Does your company of choice appear in the first couple of pages of results, or just via Adwords? If the latter, they may not have been around for a long time and may not be reputable. A legitimate company with a solid track record will be ranked in Google's search engine, especially within the first couple of pages. Beware of registration companies that you can only find in Adwords.
These ten tips will help you as you seek to register your domain name.
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