A reader sent in the following question recently in regards to website domain names:
"I'm setting up a small consulting business, and I need to have a website. I tried to get the dotcom domain name for my business, but it's already taken by some kid who wants to charge me $50,000 for it. I can get the dot-biz or the dot-us domain name, but I'm worried that using these other domains won't give me the marketing presence I want for this business. For example, will it be more difficult for search engines to find me if I'm a dot-biz as opposed to a dotcom?"
It was never easy to get the right web domain name for your business, but these days it's next to impossible. Just about every word in the English language with a dotcom after it has been taken, mostly by speculators like this kid who buy up hundreds of names and sell them at a huge profit.
There are a couple of ways you can get around this problem, but Catherine Seda , internet marketing expert and author of Pay-Per-Click, a five-hour DVD program on search engine advertising, doesn't think you should use a dot-biz or dot-us name. "Always go for a dotcom if you're a business, because people continue to assume dotcom equals a business," Seda advises. "You'll miss branding and business potential if you use any other domain extension (sometimes referred to as a domain suffix)."
So what should this reader do since the domain he really wants is taken? Seda advises that he should consider adding a search engine keyword to it. "This can also help your site's free rankings in the search engines," Seda explains. "For example, if you own a wedding dress shop and your company's name is 'Bella,' then buy www.BellaWeddingDresses.com."
OK, but what if there are a gazillion people out there named Bella selling wedding dresses? Now it's time for some difficult choices. There are three things your website domain name needs to be:
- It has to be short enough to type so people don't get writer's cramp each time they go online looking for you. I have to believe that if I wanted to set up a website with the domain name www.cliffennicotheworldsgreatestsmallbusinesscolumnistwho - yesisalawyerbytrainingbutwhoisareallygreatguyonceyougettoknowhim.com, I wouldn't have much competition for the name, but most folks would give up looking for me before they would start typing all that.
- It has to be easy to remember. If you have the choice between www.xtixibieiciir.com and www.cliffsantiques.com, go with the latter.
- According to Seda (and me), it really has to be a dotcom.
So if your name is Larry, you want to sell bicycles, and www.larrysbicycles.com is already taken as a domain name, how about www.larrythebicycleguy.com or www.larryontwowheels.com? People love it when you throw a little whimsy into your domain name--and that makes it doubly easy to remember.
When all else fails, remember that your domain name (in fact, I would say this is true of your business name as well) doesn't have to have anything to do with the products or services you're selling. Think about it:
- What does "Monster.com" have to do with looking for a job online?
- What does "Amazon.com" have to do with buying books and other stuff online?
- What does "Google" or "eBay" or "Little Caesars" have to do with online search, online auctions or pizza?
If you have the choice between a long and convoluted domain name that accurately describes what you do in your business and a name that's cool and easy to remember but has nothing whatsoever to do with your business, I'd go with the latter if I were you.
One more thing: If your business takes off and becomes successful, it'll be a lot easier to trademark your name and build a national or international brand around it if it doesn't describe the business you're in.