Picking the right domain name is an important step in developing a new business. Choose the right one and you could end up a household name. Choose the wrong one and your business could end up fizzling fast.
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With more than 250 million registered domain names, it more important than ever to choose one that stands out from the crowd, said Kellie Peterson, chief strategy officer for domain services, hosting and support provider Directnic.
"For businesses of all sizes, choosing the right domain name can feel as challenging as coming up with a company name, but it doesn't have to be [so difficult]," Peterson said.
To help you in the process, she offers four tips for picking the perfect domain name:
- Use correct spelling: This might come as a surprise when you think of the immense success companies like Flickr and Tumblr have enjoyed, but those are exceptions. After seeing Flickr's success, many startups followed suit by rushing to register domain names with dropped letters. But it's no coincidence that you haven't heard from any of those companies. Going the trendy route makes it difficult to convey the true spelling of your domain orally, and people tend to go directly to the correctly spelled site by habit. What if the correctly spelled version of the name you want is unavailable? You can use a new top-level domain (TLD), the part of the website after the "dot," and still have the domain you wanted. Choose something like .guru or .photography instead of .com.
- Shorter is better: There's a reason why three- and four-letter domain names get snatched up faster than others. These short names are easy to spell and often easier to remember. Plus, shorter names make for fewer typos. For example, you should use howtosave.com as opposed to how-to-save.com. However, it is more important that your short domain name is clear rather than short for the sake of being short. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that your domain name is easy to say on the phone. You want the person on the other end of the line to be able to remember exactly what to type into the search bar after the conversation.
- Be relevant and unique: Your domain name should give your customer a quick glimpse into what you do. When someone looks at or hears your domain name, they should be able to make a reasonable assumption about what they will find when they go to your website. For example, if your company sells surfboards and you're thinking of purchasing the domain h20ride.com, customers could misconstrue your domain as that of a drinking water company. So there is probably a better name out there for you. In addition to choosing a name that's relevant to what you do, pick a domain name that customers won't easily confuse with other businesses' names, or worse, that will infringe on another business' trademark. In order to avoid doing this, use the World Intellectual Property Organization's searchable database to check the name against other products or services to ensure that you're in the clear. You can also take an additional step by consulting an intellectual property attorney.
- Pay for the best: Don't be afraid to invest. If the perfect domain name exists, someone else has likely already registered it, so you might have to pony up some cash or go with an alternative. If you have the budget, consider approaching the registrant of the domain name directly. Or you can go through a domain name broker. Both independent and corporate brokers can guide you through the process. As a less expensive alternative, you can purchase a new top-level domain.
Originally published on Business News Daily.