Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
You have the perfect business name. Your business license and permits have been obtained. And you paid a lawyer to finalize your business structure. All of your marketing materials have been designed and printed. Then, something unexpected happens: You discover that your perfect business domain name is taken.
In a perfect world, you would type in your business name on a domain registration website, and it would be available to purchase. But unfortunately, this is rarely what happens. There are hundreds of millions of registered domain names, and millions of names will be registered this year alone. Finding out that your perfect name is taken can be frustrating, but there are things you can do. This Balboa Capital blog article explains how to choose a domain name.
Your domain name can make or break you.
We all know that first impressions are essential in business. It only takes a few seconds for people to formulate their own opinions about your logo, storefront, and physical establishment. Well, the same holds with your domain name. A good one can make a positive first impression, boost your business’s online presence, and help generate clicks to your website. On the other hand, a name that is hard to understand or does not represent your brand might cause people to bypass your link and look at alternatives.
Keep it short and straightforward.
When creating a list of potential domain names for your business, there are best practices to follow. For starters, the length of your name is significant. A short name is easier to remember and type into web browsers, making users more likely to find your website. It also looks better on your business cards, letterhead, and other marketing materials because it takes less space. Digital marketing experts agree that a domain should be between 6 to 15 characters long.
A long or complicated name will be difficult for people to pronounce, remember and type. For example, if you have a domain name with 30 characters, you would have to repeat it many times for it to be remembered. Moreover, a long domain name will make your website URLs (landing pages, product pages, blog posts, etc.) long. Therefore, long URLs might not negatively affect your search engine optimization (SEO), but they are not as user-friendly.
Choose a top-level domain.
You have probably seen or heard the phrase “dot com.” This is the most widely used top-level domain (TLD) globally. A TLD is the ending of your domain name, such as .com, .net, or .biz. A .com address is the best option because it has the highest “digital property value” and can populate higher in search results. However, because .com domains are so popular, finding one still available to purchase can be challenging. You will notice this when looking for names online.
Check to see if the name is trademarked.
Just because a domain name is available does not mean you can use it without running into legal trouble. For example, a computer store that uses a domain name similar to apple.com, microsoft.com, or dell.com might receive a takedown notice. So, once you have narrowed down your list of available favorite options, make sure they do not have trademarks registered to the name. Then, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website or contact an intellectual property (IP) lawyer.
Once you get that out of the way, you should check to see if the domain name is available on the most popular social networks (if you do not already use social media for your business.) Having the same name across your website domain and social media helps build your brand and makes it easy for your customers and followers to find you online. You can visit each social network to see if your name is being used or use one of the free online tools that check for using your domain name and username online.
What to do before you register your domain.
You are approaching the finish line, but you need to do one more thing before pressing the “purchase” button on that domain name website: You need to be sold entirely on the domain. It sounds simple, but choosing a name is a big decision that will define and impact your small business now and into the future. So, if there is any hesitancy on your part, you should keep looking. After all, think of how much time, energy, and money it will take to change your domain name and company brand in the future.
It is time to start if you are happy with the name and it meets all your branding requirements. When purchasing your top choice from a registrar company/website hosting company, you have the option of adding an SSL certificate for security, custom email addresses that match your domain, privacy protection, and website hosting. In addition, you might be able to save money by reserving your domain name for multiple years.
Protect your domain name.
If you want to keep your domain from using another TLD, you can buy the domain’s .net, .biz, and .co versions and renew them yearly. Please note that there are more than 1,000 different TLDs available, but you only need to focus on the original TLDs, excluding .edu (education), .mil (military), and .gov (government).
Balboa Capital, a Division of Ameris Bank, is not affiliated with nor endorses the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.