If the recent mishaps of politicians not registering their domain names are any indication, registering your domain name is crucial. So how do you find a domain name that best suits your business? In this post, I’ll answer some of your domain registration questions to assist in finding a domain that best matches your business, and sets you up for success in online marketing.
Why You Need to Register Your Domain Name
Quite simply, you need to register your domain name to avoid someone else buying it and damaging your brand or reputation. Take the most recent example of Carly Fiorina. She announced her plans to run for President, but failed to register her domain name. Someone bought carlyfiorina.org and decided to use it to show the world how many people she laid off at Hewlett Packard. News media picked up the story and amplified it to expose her domain name blunder to millions.
You can avoid this mistake and give your business a consistent identity at the same time. Besides helping you avoid domain hijacking by unfriendly foes, registering your domain name will provide a critical component to your overall business identity. Since many people begin the purchase process via the web, you need to register a domain name to have a memorable address which reflects your brand AND makes it easy for customers to find you.
There are two basic pathways for finding a domain name, depending on whether or not you already have a business name.
You already have a business name
If you already have a business name, check the availability of your brand. If you’re a Webs user, go to the top of the site builder and click the ‘Dashboard’ link. Then, click the ‘Domains & Email’ tab and enter your brand name along with a top level domain (TLD) selector such as “.com.” If your domain name is available, the ‘Check Availability’ button will change to ‘Purchase Domain.’ Start domain name registration by clicking that button.
You should then check the availability of alternative TLDs such as “.net” and buy those to prevent someone from impersonating your brand. The Fiorina campaign owned carlyfiorina.com, but failed to secure the “.org” TLD. To go the extra mile, think of variations or misspellings of your brand and buy those as well to build a defensive domain arsenal.
If your business name is unavailable, see the next section.
You don’t have a business name (or domain is unavailable)
If you don’t already have a name picked out for your business, now is a great time to choose one! Take your time, be creative, and come up with a captivating moniker and logo that sum up the essence of your business.
As a first step, list key characteristics of your business: who you are, what you do, and what you offer. For example, let’s say your business is a coffee shop in Seattle. Your list might look like this:
- Who you are: Seattle-based coffee shop
- What you do: Provide fresh coffee and a welcoming experience to local patrons
- What you offer: Coffee, tea, and a local gathering place
Next, you’ll want to research how people search for these activities and offerings. Begin by searching for some of the keywords from your list to see what suggestions arise. Starting at Google (or search engine of choice), begin typing “Seattle coffee shop” or “coffee shop Seattle,” then observe suggestions. If you see your keywords show up, then you know you’ve hit on a popular search phrase.
Next, take these same terms and enter them into Google’s Keyword Planner to get an estimate of search volume.
Settle on a few of these keywords and determine if there’s a way to tie your brand to search phrases.
As an example, if your brand is “Jill’s Coffee” you might consider checking the availability of domain names like “jillseattlecoffee.com”, “jillscoffee.com”, or “jillscoffeeshop.com”.
If you get stuck coming up with ideas, try Estibot’s domain brainstorming tools. They offer nine tools specifically for domain brainstorming in addition to many other domain-related tools. In particular, their ‘Domain Idea Tool’ helps you generate domains based on keyword data and search results.
After you’ve narrowed down a couple domain name ideas, check availability using the instructions provided in the You already have a business name section of this post. Then buy your chosen domain name, additional TLDs, and variations.
With these techniques, you will be on your way to owning a domain name that matches your business and sets you up for online marketing success!