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Choosing a domain name:

By Tony Murtagh
Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004

The Domain name, basically speaking, is that section of the Web Address, or URL (Uniform Resource Locator) that you find between the (www.) and the .com. You can have your own domain name ( TLD - Top Level Domain) i.e.. (www.yourname.com) or a virtual or secondary domain name i.e.. (www.yourname.webhost.com). In this case the main domain name is "webhost" who would probably be the name of the ISP (Internet Service Provider) who is hosting your site.

This, almost invariably indicates that you are getting your web hosting service free of charge. The web host is making money either by placing ads on your site, or, especially in the UK, (where one usually has to pay the phone company to access the Internet) taking a percentage of the actual call costs from the telephone company.

This is fine for a personal home page or a local club or society page (the first site I designed was for my local golf club and is (www.wsmgolfclub.fsnet.co.uk) - where the service provider is Freeserve, indicated by the "fsnet" part of the url.).

If however you are running a commercial site of any kind, you do need to have your own domain name. If you are obviously using a free hosting site, it does not say a great deal to your visitors and potential customers about the professionalism of your company. Furthermore, some of these free hosting domain names become rather long and therefore difficult to remember or to type in the search box without making a mistake.

There are many sites on the net that will tell you if your desired name is available and will register it for you. The one I use is Register.com and I find their service efficient and their prices competitive.

Short or Long Name ? You are now able to register a name up to 63 characters long and some people suggest that if you choose a long name packed with keywords it will help your search engine rankings.

Personally, I am not so sure about their benefit. Whilst there might be some advantage in gaining a higher search engine listing, I think that this is outweighed by the disadvantages. First, as Yahoo or Amazon have proved, a long name with lots of keywords isn't necessary for success! Neither name indicates what the sites do, but they are probably two of the best known sites both on and off the Internet - having a short, snappy, memorable name is far more important.

Conversely, if your name is too long, people will not remember it and therefore not come back to your site - buyallyourbookscdscomputergamesatcutpricesfromouronlineshopnow.com does not exactly trip off the tongue as well as Amazon.com!

Finally, on a purely practical point, when you are running your business, you will be amazed at how often you need to type in your web address - I am beginning to think that mine is too long and that is less than half the maximum allowed!

Unless you have the marketing budget of an Amazon though, I do agree that it is preferable to have your domain name related to your business so that people do know what your site is about before visiting it.

Is dot com important? Once you have decided on a name, your next task is to establish whether the name is still available as a .com . If it isn't, you could try .org, .net, .to, .tv etc. etc... - you are probably wondering what these letters represent. Well, in a nutshell, there are a few global domains, such as .com (denoting a company) .org - a charity or organisation - .gov - a government department and then there are country domains i.e.. .co.uk - United Kingdom - .tv - Tuvalu (where? - don't ask me!) - .to - Tonga - .cx - Christmas Islands and so on.

Whilst originally, each country was supposed to use its domain name for its own residents, many of the smaller countries such as Tuvalu and Tonga are selling the rights to their domain names - and who can blame them? If you were a manufacturer of televisions or a programme producer, wouldn't you like your domain to end in .tv?

Anyway, I digress, the point is that you can now get your own domain name registered with any of these domain endings. And if you are UK based, try All UK Domains. However, despite all the alternatives, I do believe that "dot com" has become part of the vocabulary, indicating any kind of web site, the same way as hoover has now become a verb, meaning to vacuum and a generic noun for all vacuum cleaners. So if you can, try and get a suitable "dot com " domain but if not, don't worry too much, as you can see, there are plenty of alternatives.

About the Author
Tony Murtagh has spent all his career involved in sales, sales management, marketing and PR. He was a UK National Sales Manger (Major Accounts) for a mobile communications company, had his own publishing company producing a monthly Business to Business magazine and has acted as a PR consultant for a number of small businesses. He is now sharing his wide experience of sales, marketing and promotion in his new web site: - (http://DevelopYourWebSiteAndYourself.com) and in a weekly e-ezine Aardvark Marketing, which you can subscribe to from the site, or mailto:AardvarkMarketing-subscribe@listbot.com