I need a website built, but where do I start?
First things first, you need somewhere to put the website – this means a domain name, or URL. This is a very important step in getting your online presence off to a running start, one that is too often thought of as a simple step that you can easily ‘wing’ and just purchase something that will kind of do the job for cheap. After all, it’s only a place to put my website, right?
Wrong. Would you buy a top of the line, brand new, fully loaded Cadillac from an online dealership called SlappyDoosWhippinRides.com? Okay, so there might be a couple oddballs out there, but my point is, it sounds like a carnival ride and the vast majority of Cadillac purchasers probably won’t be shopping there. You need something that conveys your business with style that is straight to the point and easy to remember, like TheCadillacShop.com.
Take a little time and put some thought into your domain name. Don’t be a Slappy Doo!
1) Align with your business
This should be fairly obvious, but it still needs to be said. If you already have a business name, such as Book Builders Inc., your domain name should be bookbuilders.com or bookbuildersinc.com. This makes it easy for your customers to remember your name and also your website.
2) Make it easy
People gravitate toward convenience. It’s just the way people are. If your website is difficult to spell or type – avoid using slang words or shortening words like ‘you’ into ‘u’. This may make it more difficult for people to find you.
3) Short and simple
This goes right along with the previous step. The longer the domain name, the more people have to work to type in your domain. If it is more than three words – over 20 characters – users may feel exhausted having to type so much (I know, it’s ridiculous, but it’s true). There is a problem here that you may not be able to avoid – most of the 2-3 word domain names are already taken. This is where the next few steps come in handy to tailor your domain.
4) Use keywords (maybe)
This has been a common practice for a long time in choosing a domain name, but doesn’t hold as much power in regards to SEO as it once did. Since Google’s search engine updates from 2010 on, this has become less and less of a top consideration. Since Google is the powerhouse in Search, you may want to pay attention to what their objectives are – mainly that they’re moving toward ranking websites with relevant content and actual usefulness to web surfers. This means: your content matters more than your domain name.
NOTE: Use one if it fits with your business and looks good. Otherwise, don’t try too hard here.
5) Target locally
Example: If your business is called ‘Car Detailing’, and you detail cars in Denver, Colorado, chances are [http://www.cardetailing.com] is taken. Even so, you most likely only deal with local car drivers. This is a case where you would want to include your city in the domain name and choose [http://www.denvercardetailing.com]. This will help with local SEO and make it easier for customers in your area to find you.
6) Avoid hyphens and numbers if possible
This is a common mistake that can hinder searches for your website – it isn’t common knowledge to try a hyphen in a domain name and you may confuse people if your name is hyphenated, but there is another website that is not. Check out the two websites below and you’ll see exactly how this can go wrong.
Conversely, if michigansportsman.com is taken and you feel michigan-sportsman.com would still suit your needs, then make the purchase. Otherwise, try modifying the name a bit to still align with your business while avoiding the hyphen.
7) Make it memorable
This is probably the most important. Just like picking a business name that lets people remember you, picking a domain that sticks in people’s minds is imperative. Unless you only use your website as a point of reference and your actual business goes by word of mouth (actually happens a lot), then it isn’t as important.
8) Don’t purchase ‘later’
If you find a domain that you like and it is available DO NOT WAIT! There are domain poachers who actually wait for people to search for a domain and if it isn’t purchased right away, they’ll buy it and try to sell it to you for a lot more money than you’re probably willing to pay.