Choosing and registering a good domain name is an essential prerequisite to being successful in any online business venture. It is as important as putting a good name above a shop, it is the name that your business will be known by, one that hopefully people remember. You could of course choose to use your existing company name, but it is well worth thinking about using a more descriptive, or memorable name, and it is well worth taking great care in the choice.
The domain name is the name which goes before the .com or .co.uk of the Internet address of a web site. It is rather like a trademark, if you think of a good name, and it has not already been registered, then for a small annual fee you can register it and it becomes your exclusive address on the web, the address of your web site, and part of your e-mail address. This means that the choice of a good domain name for your online business is extremely important, a mistake made at this stage can cost you a lot of potential customers and be very difficult and expensive to change at a later date.
A good domain name should have thres properties, it should be memorable, descriptive and short. A memorable domain name is in essence a brand name, it should be a name that people will automatically think of in association with the products or services you are selling. But the name should also be descriptive, it should identify the key elements of your business.
Remember that unless you have a very large advertising and promotional budget it is no good trying to promote a domain name which is memorable but not descriptive. Domain names such as Yahoo, Amazon, Egg, Smile, Big Blue Dog, Ebay, etc. have no descriptive relationship to what they are selling. These are brand names backed by enormous advertising budgets, names which are ususlly designed for a global, multilingual market.
To find a good domain name the first stage is to go back to the business description created when we first defined the market niche which the online business would be operating in. This required the selection of a set of descriptive keywords which were used, in conjunction with a search engine or web directory, to find out how many other businesses were in the selected niche.
In that process the descriptive keywords were targeted to find the correct size of niche, we can reuse these same keywords to create a descriptive domain name. Thus in our example (Step 1) with Jimmy White’s fishing tackle shop we defined the target niche as being fly fishing, with the keywords being – ‘fishing’, ‘fly fishing’, ‘fishing lures’. From these we can create a sequence of possible domain names, such as:
Use English keywords if you are appealing to an English speaking or international market (over 85% of all web users understand English), otherwise use the language of the country at which the site is targeted
If you only intend to sell in your own country then use a national domain name extension, such as .co.uk for a British business, or .fr for a French business. However, if you intend to sell internationally then a .com domain name extension is the best choice, primarily because it is the default extension in most modern browsers.
Having created a list of descriptive domain names, pick out those which are easily memorable. Then check on their availability, starting with the best, if it is available register it immediately, in domain name registration it is a case of first come first served. When registering a name, in most cases you can do it through your hosting provider, or directly with one of the well known domain name registrars like GoDaddy.