Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004
You have decided to expand or establish a business presence on the internet. Now you are faced with the difficult task of selecting a domain name that will be a business and advertising asset.
Before deciding on a domain name, it is imperative that you consider the legal aspect of domain ownership. Trademark law seriously impacts ownership of domains and should be considered before choosing which domain name to register or buy. Important laws have been passed which protect trademark owners and could result in litigation if the domain name that you choose violates the law or infringes on a company trademark. Before reading further, please review the Consumer Protection - Anti Cybersquatting Act of 1999 at (http://www.aipla.com/S.1255-ES.htm). Additionally, the United States Patent and Trademark Office: (http://www.uspto.gov) offers free trademark information and trademark search.
Now that you have taken the time to review the trademark information in the previous paragraph, I'll outline some of the important components of a great domain name.
The first aspect of a great domain name is simplicity. The number of people exploring the internet for the first time is growing at a phenomenal rate. These users represent a substantial potential market for any business. While a more experienced person may find even the most difficult address easy to find; someone who is new to the internet may be at best barely familiar with what a browser is, much less how to negotiate their way to a site with a hyphenated domain name or a domain name that is a challenge to spell correctly. Many of these "newbies" also have never spent much time using a keyboard. A user friendly domain name will help insure that your visitors actually arrive at your site. You will see, as you read further, that simplicity plays a critical role in selecting the right domain name.
Memorability also impacts the value and effectiveness of the domain name that you select. A memorable name is one that is both strong, in terms of the image it conveys in the mind of the user, and simple enough to not be confusing. A hypothetical example of this might be a domain name such as "EarthsGreatest.com." This domain clearly conveys the strength and size that any business hopes to be associated with, is memorable and easy to spell. On the other hand, a name such as "EzXistances.com" will in all likelihood, not be remembered accurately. The "ez" portion of the name may be spelled as "easy" by some users and the "Xistance" portion will also confuse the public. When you consider the amount of time and money that you may spend to advertise your website, it becomes clear that simplicity and memorability are crucial factors.
Your advertising budget should also play a role in the name you choose. Unless you are an established company with a recognizable name, chances are you will use a name that you will create and register or a name that you will buy on the resale market. Domain names that do not translate well in advertising, such as names that are confusing when heard on the radio, have the potential of being little more than money out the window. This leads us to the "generic" versus "non-generic" domain name issue.
Generic names tend to be words that are often described as "dictionary" words. These words offer the benefit of being "household" words in the minds of the public. Generic names are recognizable and versatile when used in ad campaigns and promotions. Many generic names almost sell themselves on the web. A generic name like "books.com" or "loans.com" is simply second nature to nearly every one seeking those products or services. This is why those names command such high prices on the resale market. In many instances, generic names require much less advertising dollars to promote and brand than a non-generic name would require. Often a generic name offers "more bang for the advertising buck."
Another important factor to consider is the length of the domain name that you select. Simply put, the best name is the shortest name that fits all of the important criteria here and whatever additional criteria that you deem relevant. There was a time when a great domain name was simple, memorable and consisted of one word. Unfortunately, one word names are rarely available to register and usually priced highly on the resale market. Two or even three word names that fit all of the above criteria often are great domain names. An example of this is the name "WirelessEscrows.com." It is simple, strong, memorable and not overly wordy. It also makes sense and is relevant to the escrow industry.
I recently heard someone say, "If you have to explain the name at all, it isn't a good name." In many instances that is very true. If you have to explain your domain name, who will be there to explain it to your potential customers? You won't be there to tell them that the name starts with the number "1" and not "one", or that they should remember to include the hyphen.
In summary, a great domain name is as short, simple and as memorable as possible and is one that makes sense. If only every other aspect of e-commerce could be so basic and uncomplicated. In this virtual environment, the only thing that resembles a brick structure is your domain name. Choose your domain name wisely. In the mind of your potential customer your domain name is the brick that represents all that your business is on the web. Combine this article with the factors that are important to you and go out and find a domain name worth feeling great about!
*The domain names mentioned here are for demonstrative purposes. At the time of publication (3/18/00), the domain "ezXistances.com" was not a registered domain name.
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