Choosing A Domain
Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004
Intro To Domain Names
Each domain name consists of two parts - the Mid Level Domain (MLD), and the Top Level Domain (TLD). The Mid Level Domain is the Ford in Ford.com, the Concrete-Home in Concrete-Home.com. This part of the domain name can consist of up to 63 characters in .com, .net, or .org domains. Only letters, numbers, or hyphens are permitted; no underbars, exclamation marks or periods. The Top Level Domain refers to the .com, .net, or .org part of the web address. There are also country code Top Level Domains (ccTLD's) such as .ca for Canada, .fr for France, or .us for the United States. In most cases, you will need to reside in that particular country if you wish to purchase a ccTLD.
Choosing The Right Domain Name
Choosing the right domain name can be critical to the success of a website. Most Internet users remember websites by their domain names; your domain name can also affect the anchor text of inbound links; and your ranking in search engines. Let's take a few minutes to discuss the issues you must consider when choosing a domain.
Keyword or Branding?
Many of the most successful sites do not use keyword domains. These online businesses have chosen to go with a completely original domain, and brand it. A few examples are Yahoo!, Google, Amazon, Monster, and eBay. It's not that these large corporations don't know about search engine optimization; it's just that they are putting more emphasis on creating a brand name around their business.
A keyword domain is a domain chosen to take advantage of search engine traffic. By choosing a domain that matches a keyword search, we are able to rank higher for targeted keywords and thereby benefit from added traffic and more potential for sales. For example, if you were a Las Vegas realtor, you might want to target the search phrase Las Vegas Realty by choosing the domain Las-Vegas-Realty.com. Looking through the Las Vegas yellow pages, many real estate agents have websites, but most do not target any specific keywords. It appears most realtors are simply naming websites after themselves; e.g., our fictitious friend, John Doe, is a real estate agent with Acme Realty; he chose john-acme.com. I don't expect he will be benefiting from a lot of free search engine traffic.
Whether you choose a brandable domain or a keyword domain is a choice you must make, and a choice you should make in accordance with your business plan. If you have a large offline advertising budget and the budget necessary to brand your organization, I'd recommend a brandable domain. If, on the other hand, you're working on a shoe-string budget, choose a keyword domain and let the search engines bring the customers to you. You might want to read up on the benefits of keyword domains in this thread entitled Domain Names - Keyword Or Brandable.
Seven Quick Tips
1. Don't include a specific location, unless you serve only that location. Even if you do ship nationwide, you may never get the chance to let the consumer know that; consumers from other areas are not likely to click through from search engines if your domain includes a location.
2. Cut to the chase, keep it simple. The shorter the better. It's easier to remember.
3. Two minds are better than one. Make a visit to a webmaster forum and ask for suggestions. You'd be surprised by some of the great suggestions that you may find in a webmaster forum.
4. Buy your domain from 123 Cheap Domains. 123CheapDomains is owned by Jonathan Lee, a great guy whose staff provides great customer service.
5. Buy the variations. If you go buy BlueFind.com, why not also pick up BlueFind.net and other variation to protect your brand?
6. Don't pay the big bucks. Some domains have sold for millions - don't do it. Those dollars are more effectively spent building up a brand and advertising your products and/or services.
7. Keep it legit. Try to avoid .ws, .tv, .biz, etc. Most respect is given to .com, .net, or .org domains.
About The Author:
© John Scott 2003 Owner of internet-marketing-research.net and webmaster-forum.net.