Registering a domain name is the first step towards starting your online business or personal branding website. It may sound pretty straightforward, however, there are important factors you must consider in order to choose the domain name that is going to reflect your organisation’s brand and make a positive difference to your sales and popularity.
Avoid Trademarked Names
Do not register a domain name that has been copyrighted or one that is too similar to your competition or famous trademarks. Many businesses have lost their domain registry rights because of trademark conflicts with other businesses. To avoid trademark infringement, search your domain ideas on IPAustralia’s trademark database and AusRegistry. If the domain name you’re after is still available, these websites will also allow you to trademark your business/domain name.
Secure Alternate Names
Again, if you’re serious about creating a long term online business you should not rely on one domain name. Once you have secured your brand name or the generic equivalent as your domain, create a list of alternative domains that still relate to your business. You should be considering such things as:
- Singular and Pluralised versions (e.g puppy.com has also registered puppies.com)
- Common spelling mistakes (e.g Google has also registered Gogle.com and Gooogle.com)
- Including your location in the domain name to attract local customers
Register the possible alternatives of your domain name which others may type in or be drawn towards when searching for the product or service that you offer. This doesn’t mean you need to purchase all existing alternatives and misspelt domain names. Use your general knowledge, do some keyword research, and ask your friends and colleagues for advice. Check out Domains Bot or Instant Domain Search to look into the availability of particular domains and browse through some suggested alternatives.
Do Not Use Hyphens
Even if your brand name is hyphenated (e.g E-Web Marketing), try to avoid registering a domain name containing hyphens as it can be confused with a similar domain containing no hyphens, is irritating to type, and difficult to give out verbally.
Secure Top Level Extensions
The “.com.au” suffix is highly recognised and trusted by Australian consumers because your business will need have an ABN in order to register for a “.com.au” domain. If you can, register for your “.com.au” domain as well as the “.com” so that you are securing your website for top-level domains. If you’re serious about building a successful web brand over the long term you should also purchase other extensions such as “.net”, “.org”, etc and redirecting them all to your main top level domain. This way your competitors cannot register your domain name under alternative extensions to steal away your website traffic. Remember that when you’re running an online business, your competitors are just a click away!
Unless you have successfully branded your business offline with a brand name that purposefully includes slang such as “4” instead of “for”, do not register your main domain with numeral or abbreviation substitutions. From a usability point of view, these are harder to type, can make the domain look messy or too colloquial for your target market to relate to. The number ‘0’ can also often get confused with the letter ‘o’ and vice versa so try to avoid creating confusion.
Keep it Simple
If your domain name is unmemorable due to its length or spelling then your website may be losing its branding and marketing value. Domain names can be up to 67 characters long but remember that we live in a generation of tech-savvy but time-poor individuals so keep your domain name simple. Having that said, avoid a domain name that is too abbreviated as it can be difficult to remember and obscure. For example, it may be better to register “johnsgardening.com” rather than “johnsgardeningservicescompany.com” or “jgsc.com”.
Some of you may be thinking that the obvious domain choice for your business is www.yourcompanynamehere.com. This is a good starting point but be careful to not disorientate your users especially if your business name may not specifically reflect what you do.
Securing the generic equivalent of your product or service as opposed to just registering your brand name gives search engines a better idea of what your website is about and may help you generate ‘type in traffic’. Type in traffic is website visitors that land on your web site by entering in keywords or phrases in their browser address bar and adding the “.com” suffix at the end. For example, an individual that would like to buy a business card may type in “www.businesscards.com”.
Register Personal Names
If you’re a blogger, writer, consultant or you’re trying to establish yourself online, register your personal name as your domain address. You can either choose to use this as your primary domain or point it to your company website.
Search for Old Domains
Every website will need to engage in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in order to start ranking well in search engine results pages. An SEO tip when registering domains is to also look for old and expired domains which may no longer be in use but still have links pointing to them. If these links are related to your business you may want to consider registering the old domain and redirecting it toward your website to help improve your search engine visibility.
Test the Commercial Appeal
If you’re thinking of using a domain name that is completely unique, imagine your company on a billboard or hearing it mentioned in a radio advertisement. Could it work? Ask your friends and family for their opinions and suggestions and test how memorable the aforementioned domains are by asking them again.
Now that you know what to avoid when registering your domain name, get started now before someone else snaps it up!