Anyone who has named their own child will understand the anguish involved in wading through the seemingly infinite assortment of syllables and sounds in a bid to find that perfect combination that will for evermore embody everything you hold dear. Naming your online business can be far worse. Not only can you not use the same name as anyone else – imagine here only being one Britney or Justin! – but, choose wrong and it can have a significant effect on whether a business grows up to be a proverbial doctor, or stays living at home until the age of 45.
What’s In A Domain?
While the reported $35m price tag for VacationRentals.com may have become the stuff of legend within the domain industry, from a business perspective, there would have been some very sound reasoning behind the figure paid. Undoubtedly, online business is booming. Almost 150 million domain names are currently in use and Google searches alone are estimated at around three billion … per day.
With many of us now having 24-hour web access through smartphones, tablets and desktops, any need/want/desire can be answered all-but instantly and competition to get this consumer attention is ferocious. So in an effort to stand out in a very large and noisy online crowd, how important is having ‘the right’ domain name and can it make or break a business?
While there’s no definitive answer, a well-chosen domain name can undoubtedly have an immediate impact on a new businesses and the wrong one can make it almost invisible. There will always be businesses that prosper when their domain is … open to interpretation. Is that ChildrensWear.co.uk or ChildrenSwear.co.uk?
Basic Rules Apply
- Keep it at home – For businesses operating in the UK, a .co.uk or the newer .uk suffix is important. Google.co.uk dominates UK searches and favours UK-specific sites over others. If you’re looking to go global with a business, having the internally recognised .com suffix is also a must. For those inspecting your business from afar, there may well be a negative connotation associated with having only a local suffix.
- Keep it short – At risk of stating the obvious, the easier a domain is to remember and spell correctly the better.
- Keep it simple – If it’s possible, register the company name as the main URL as this is what people who are looking for your business will try first. If the business produces products, invest in any product name domains in case these ever require their own standalone websites.
- Keep yourself to yourself – For writers, artists, photographers, etc where a personal reputation in a chosen industry is what draws customers, having a FirstNameLastName domain is the most ideal. With almost 130,000 domains being registered daily though, most common names will be taken. If so, look at adding the industry also or hyphenating the name if all else fails.
- Keep clear of Mrspellings – Any name which can easily be misspelled will divert and frustrate those looking for you. Online consumers are inherently impatient. If necessary look at buying common misspellings of the domain and pointing them to your main website.
What Are gTLDs & Do I Need To Know?
While the ‘bit after the dot’ has never made for great dinner party conversation, hundreds of new gTLDs or generic Top Level Domains have now become available which have the potential to shift how new online businesses are able to position themselves.
For a new business, the days of having to be creative to the point of confusion with a name in order to find an available domain are leaving fast. While the most familiar suffixes such as the .coms and .uks aren’t set to be thrown aside for the new shiny things anytime soon, gTLDs do represent a new level of opportunity for businesses which want to get creative with a website address. There is now the digital luxury of making businesses better reflect their location (.london), industry (.photography) or specialism … uh, (.guru).