How to find the right domain name for your business

Advice

How to find the right domain name for your business

A website is your business’s shopfront in the online mall that is the Internet. Choosing the right domain name is imperative to attracting new customers.

Anyone who is serious about their small business in 2012 should have some form of online presence. In the age of social media, the humble website has been unfairly overlooked but it has many utilities that a Facebook page or Twitter account cannot possibly replace. Your domain name (in layman’s terms, what comes after the ‘www’) is your calling card, the marker that points visitors in the direction of your content, and ultimately, your business. Here are some tips for ensuring that you choose the right one. 

Don't be tricky

Your trading name (not necessarily your registered business name) and your domain name are pretty much the same thing. If you are operating a one person professional or trade services business and your reputation is good, using your own name is a pretty good start.

Bruce Daly is a Sydney-based art Director and graphic designer who works on our Smarter Business Ideas magazine. We talked to him about how he went about putting up a folio site for himself.

“Seeing as I had spent 20 years in the publishing industry in Sydney and hadn't screwed anyone over too badly, using my own name seemed like a good idea,” he says.

He went with BruceDaly.com rather than BruceDaly.com.au as he didn't have the ABN, which is something you need to register an Australian domain name.

“Do not be tempted to come up with a cheesy fake name like ‘Super Galaxy Picard Enterprises Pty Limited’ unless you want to hide from Google,” he says. It’s hard enough to get your brand pushed up in search rankings as it is.“Only large well-known companies with unlimited marketing budgets can have wacky names like ‘Google’ or ‘Yahoo.’ Perhaps when I become an international brand I'll get to call myself ‘BrooHoo.’”

Link who you are with what you do

What Bruce missed out on was the opportunity to describe what he does or sells in the domain name. Something like BruceDalyArtDirection.com.au might have been preferable. Going in that direction can get a little cumbersome if you get too specific, like when your domain reads ‘BruceDalyRideonMowerRepairsandSales.com.’ Google will probably love it, but it's not going to look great on the business card.

Unless you are thinking of operating in places other than Australia, the .au name has a lot more credibility and tells people you have some sort of registered business rather than just a blog about cats or ride-on mowers.

“By all means grab the .com, .net or .biz extensions if you think your business name might get hijacked by someone else, but in most instances that isn't going to happen,” says Daly. “Really, someone else wants to pretend to be you?”

In this specific case, separating your business name from your domain name might be a good idea.

Sometimes you’re just too late for the party.
Bruce runs a microbusiness, which currently only employs two people and focuses on affordable web design. But his lessons can be applied to any small business. 

“After searching for endless versions of [buzzwords] like ‘affordable’, ‘cheap’, ‘easy’ and ‘quick,’ it became pretty obvious that every permutation of those words had already been registered,” he says.

“In the end I ended up registering DaltenMedia.com.au as that was the name of the company I had already set up to take care of the income from freelance work that my partner and I had coming in previously. Hey, at least it has the word media in it.”
     

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