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Business Social Media - Domain Name Guide

Jul 23, 2008
On the web, your name can (and is) your reality. However naming yourself online isn't that simple. Choosing a domain name for a business web presence is one of the most critical items in your promotional venture: your domain name will be the nexus of your business for months, years, or even decades.

There are a list of things you should consider before embarking down your online venture:

1) Define your brand. It is more than words, but will be flavored by them. Your business brand is an image of who you are. Ask your friends, family, and peers what your ideas inspire when the words are read.

2) The idea of a business brand is to be memorable, yet effective in communicating the purpose of your business. It is usually more effective to focus on communicating your purpose, rather than just developing your widget as a term.

3) If you can't get a com extension, choose again. There are plenty of other extension like net and info, but whatever case that is: you will need to also have the com extension or risk losing your brand before it has ever been established. (Businesses should register the com, net, info extensions for a business)

4) If you think of related names in the process, register them today. $10 today is a lot cheaper than the impossibility of getting it tomorrow.

5) Keep it short. A good domain name should be one to three words long. It should not include hyphens or any other characters that are out of place. Shorter domains are generally better for two basic reasons: they are easier to spell and remember.

6) Don't be scared of going long. Yes, I just said "keep it short", but having a long domain name has the benefit of saying exactly what you do. Long domains also pull some weight in keyword search results, so having "real estate" in a real estate domain helps a site rank for those terms.

7) Multiple Domains are Okay! So many businesses lock on to the idea of having one site to send readers to. While having focus is good, multiple domains and sites allows a company to have different presentations for different audiences. Multiple domains and sites can also allow a single business to have multiple results in search engines, which allows them to conquest the first page of search results on terms that drive results.

8) Recognize how you can misspell your own domain. If you have any words that do not carry clearly when spoken or are easy to misspell, register the misspelled version of the keywords. $10 for a misspelled version of your own site name is a very affordable way of preventing client loss or competitive problems in the future.

9) Buy alternate domain names today. At less that $10 a piece, alternate domain names can provide a very reliable way to promote your business and help protect your reputation. If you have any public figures in the business, make sure to spend the $10 to buy personal name domains (firstnamelastname) and any slogans or catch phrases.

10) Realize that your domains are being promoted to both humans and search robots. They each like slightly different things and you should create a strategy for having multiple domains and how they coordinate relevant traffic to your business.

Bonus point: If you are trying to use a new domain for competitive search engine ranking, register the domain for five years. Search engines give credit to the length of a registration to help identify if a new site is a spam site being used to manipulate the search results. By committing to a longer stay, you help establish your virtual reputation in the eyes of engines like Google and Yahoo.

Do not jump the gun! Remember that a domain choice has many different angles to it. It can easily be compared to choosing a real world location for your business: where will it be? what does the neighborhood say? who will see it? how long will you be using it?

If you are a small business, then $50 to $100 to secure a domain name for a few years may seem like a major investment. For larger companies, spending $500 to $1000 for a larger competitive search optimization and brand protection effort is a good investment (for instance, do you own yoursitesucks?)

Understanding that a good domain may mean the difference between five visitors a month or five thousand, greatly changes how your business functions online. With a well organized strategy behind multiple domains, different niche streams of visitors become easier to reach and increase the chance that they will convert into business results.
About the Author
Barry Hurd is President, author, speaker, and voice of 123 Social Media - Business Social Media and Promotion. He has a history of over fifteen years working on numerous innovative efforts with online business models: past projects have included NIKE, REI, TMP Worldwide, Monster.com, Verizon Superpages, Intuit, and RIS Media.
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