Choosing a domain name for your new website

22 September 2016

Choosing a domain name is generally one of the first few important decisions that you need to take when you embark on your web business journey.

An appropriate domain name can be a significant factor in the success of your web business.

If you are starting a new business, then you need to decide:

  • Name: that appears before .com.au or .com; and
  • Domain: a top level domain such as .com or a country level domain such as .com.au);

Name: When choosing a name, ensure that it is short, memorable and preferably identifies the type of business you are in.

Ensure that your domain name is not too long or too complex.

If the name can be spelled in different ways (such as American and British styles in spelling), then register all the variants and re-direct them to the main site.

You only have the universe of available names to choose a domain name.

Make a list of names and run them through the whois database to check whether the name is available or not.

Check out www.whois.com and www.whois.com.au to check availability of a name.

Make a shortlist of available names and choose from among them.

Ensure that your domain name does not infringe the business name or company name of another business.

It would be a very costly setback if you lose your domain name after you have developed a business and a brand around it.

It is popularly believed that generic domain names that have key words or phrases of their industry or vertical have good SEO prospects for those keywords i.e., their websites are better ranked by search engines for those keywords.

Remember that having keywords in domain names is just one out of hundreds of factors that determine ranks of web pages, and domain name as a factor in search engine optimisation (SEO) is a separate topic in itself.

Domain: The domain can be .com.au for Australian businesses. You may also have a .com or .net or .biz TLD (top level domain) if it is available.

It is also possible to register multiple domain names and re-direct them to a single site.

This helps when your users are unsure of your domain TLD.

For example, if you have registered both .com and .com.au and have re-directed the first one to your main site, then you can advertise both domain names because a user can reach your site by typing either of the two domain names.

A few important issues are as follows:

Registering multiple domains

Register domain names of your business across the important domains.

For example, even if your website is located at www.yourbusinessname.com.au, you may register www.yourbusinessname.com, www.yourbusinessname.net and your www.yourbusinessname.net.au at the minimum.

This precludes domain squatters from misusing your domain name, diluting your brand and reputation and diverting your prospective visitors.

Secondly, even if your customers do not remember the correct domain, they are still re-directed to your site.

Local or global domain

If your business is local, then www.yourbusinessname.com.au should be the domain name where the site is located.

If you serve global customers, www.yourbusinessname.com would be preferable.

Many customers get an indication of the geographical scope of your business from your domain name and the correct use of TLD (country level TLD like .com.au for local business and .com for global business) guides them well.

Examples: Social Text located at www.socialtext.com is a global business operated out of Australia. University of Sydney is an Australian university located at www.sydney.edu.au.

Their domain names correctly indicate their scope.

Link your domain name strategy to your business strategy

Many export businesses would like to have a country domain such as .com.au to denote their location and benefit from the positive perceptions of the country.

This is an entirely valid strategy.

Decide on the basis on whether you’d like to be perceived as a local country business or a global business.

Price

Web developers often offer to register the domain name for you.

If you accept the offer, you may pay a huge premium for it.

Check the market prices at any of the domain registrar such as Godaddy or Crazydomains to get an idea of any premium you may be paying to a developer for doing a simple task of registering and maintaining a simple account.

Whose rights?

You never own a domain name, only license it for a given period.

If you fail to renew it, another party can register it after the end of your term.

If someone else has registered your domain name, ensure that it is registered in your name with your contact information.

The developer’s name should only be mentioned under technical contact of the domain, if at all.

Renew and maintain

Monitor the renewal of all domain names in your portfolio.

Generally, a domain needs to be renewed every year.

Subscribe to an alert message from the registering authority but have your own reminder to renew your domain name.

Your domain names are part of your business IP.

Account for them, maintain a list with renewal dates, and never lose your rights to them.

Review them as part of your branding review and include them in your branding strategy.

Domain name is at the heart of your web business. Ensure that:

  1. You have an attractive and marketable domain name that is also legally clear.
  2. It is protected and kept away from dispute by having a business name or company and trade name; and
  3. Maintained by ensuring that it is listed in your name and regularly renewed.

Hasnain Zaheer

Hasnain Zaheer, M. Mgt (Macquarie), CPM AMI, runs Simplogy, a growing digital strategy, digital business transformation and solutions firm that has done highly acclaimed work.

He is a Certified Practicing Marketer and has 12 years of experience in digital products & projects and providing digital services.

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