Choosing The Best Domain Name
The domain name you choose essentially acts as the storefront for your online business. If it looks good people will naturally want to know more about the site that bears the name. If it looks strange, unintelligible or people think the site owner is just trying to be clever, then you could live to regret choosing a domain name that simply doesn't do its job properly.
Even though a domain name is basically just a single line of words and a relatively tiny part of a whole website, it carries with it a lot of weight. It can and should give people a good idea of what to expect when they enter your website. Don't forget that some people come across your website address in a variety of places - they might see it printed on your business card, in a newspaper, on a forum, in the signature line you have on your emails, and a hundred other places. You need to make sure that wherever they see it they will have a reasonable idea of what the subject matter of your site actually is.
So how do you go about choosing a good domain name?
First of all you need to consider what your site is about. If you are selling e-books then it's a good idea to have the word ?e-books' somewhere in your URL. If you run an information site about the weather, then make sure you have the word ?weather' somewhere in your URL. The point is obvious - you need to make sure your URL is relevant to your site if at all possible.
There are several reasons for this. Firstly it ensures that your website address more accurately represents your business. Secondly and perhaps even more importantly it will help your website perform better in the search engine results. Search engines can send you an awful lot of traffic if you know how to get ranked highly, and choosing the right - and relevant - domain name can help you enormously in this respect.
This is why you should think about incorporating keywords into your domain name if possible. For example, with the e-books website you may only specialize in selling e-books with resell rights. A quick spot of keyword research might reveal that thousands of people regularly look up the term ?e-books for resale' - which in turn would be an excellent name for a domain that would also bring in its own stream of traffic once your site is established.
While single word domain names are more difficult to get hold of than they used to be, some are still available and if you have a particularly strong word that describes your website perfectly then you might want to use it. You can usually get better results from using two or three well chosen words however, as they will still be quite easy to remember and people quite often search for specific phrases via the search engines rather than a single word.
Of course if you already have an established business - you might have a traditional shop in a shopping mall, or even a shop on eBay - then you will do better to keep your domain name exactly the same as your existing business name. People often look up a business name online and if your domain name matches it exactly they will find you even if they don't have your exact web address.
There is a lot of debate over whether you should use hyphens or not when you have more than one word in your proposed domain name. It's true that a domain name without hyphens is a lot easier to actually say to people, but sometimes it just doesn't look right on the page. Try writing down your preferred domain name with and without hyphens and see which one looks better.
You also need to consider whether you want your domain to end in .com, .net, .biz or one of a number of other possibilities. The dot com name is probably the most sought after, but if you only trade in your own country - such as the UK for example - then buying the relevant domain (in this case ending in .co.uk) will suffice.
When you have finally decided on the domain name you want, don't hang around - buy it straightaway. Thousands of domain names are being bought for every minute you delay, so don't run the risk that the domain name you have worked so hard to create disappears out from under you.
Finally, remember to keep a note of when your domain name comes up for renewal. Some people don't realize than you never actually buy a domain name - you are only renting it for a specific period of time, usually one or two years. If you forget to renew it before it expires someone else can quite legally jump in and buy it out from under you, effectively damaging your website along with it.
So make sure you renew your domain name in time.