Posted Monday, October 25, 2004
In this article, you'll discover a key element of your Web site and how you can use it to drive traffic to your site from offline sources. What is this "basic element" of your site, you ask? It's your domain name - your business' virtual address.
To figure out why a business' domain name is important to its Web site's offline promotions, a little background into domain names is in order. To begin with, there are two main classes of domain names, gTLDs (general Top Level Domains) and ccTLDs (country code Top Level Domains). The seven original gTLDs are .com, .net, .org, .mil, .edu, .gov, and .int. As of the writing of this article, seven new gTLDs are in the process of being launched by ICANN, the governing body of TLDs. They are .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro. The gTLDs were developed to represent specific types of entities, such as commercial organizations (.com), educational institutions (.edu), or cooperatives (.coop). The ccTLDs were developed to represent entities from specific regions, such as the United States (.us), France (.fr), or Japan (.jp).
In most cases, if you find the right registrar, you can register a domain name with any extension, no matter why you need the name or where you are based. Does this mean you should though? Unless you need to protect your intellectual property rights in a name, probably not. The best choice by far is a good solid "dot com". Why? Because people are familiar with it, and it's what people associate most with Internet addresses. This is very important in offline advertising, because if a potential customer sees your Web address, he or she will likely have to remember that address when it's time to pull up the old Web browser to visit the site. So generally speaking, a domain name ending in .com is most desirable for offline advertising.
Several other important issues to consider are the domain name length, use of hyphens in the domain name, and the name's overall "readability". The domain name length can have a direct impact on how effective that name is at driving traffic to a site. As you can probably imagine, the fewer the characters in a domain name, the better. The use of hyphens in a domain name can have a negative impact on a name's effectiveness, so they should be avoided if offline advertising is planned. A name's readability should also be taken into consideration when planning offline promotions. Do the words run together confusingly? Are the letters positioned in such a way that the name might be misread? If so, capitalization can be used in print to eliminate some of the confusion.
So what if you've already registered a name, and you find another name that you think would work better for offline advertising? That's simple. Register the new name, and get your host to set up an "alias" that will direct any traffic the new address receives to your existing Web site.
About the Author
Alan is the lead developer for InfoServe Media, LLC (http://www.infoservemedia.com/), a Web development company that specializes in Web site design, hosting, domain name registration, and promotion for small businesses.