Web Design

Learn How to Choose a Right Domain Name

by YC Ng on May 9, 2011

Choosing a Right Domain NameDomain names are literally the addresses of the web. When someone needs to mail you something, they send it to your physical address. When someone wants to go to your website, they’ll type in your web address. The difference between a web address and a real address though is that your physical address probably isn’t part of your branding, and the odds are you don’t have a specific house and street number you want to use, that may very well already be taken by someone else! Welcome to the world of domain names!

Selecting a domain name is one of the most important steps to creating an effective website!

Your domain name is part of your branding. You want people to be able to remember what your website is if possible, and ideally you should own your businesses own name as a domain.

Unfortunately, that can be difficult since most .com domain names are already taken up. This is especially true if your business operates under a name that is fairly common overall. You might be the only Pest Control Sdn. Bhd. in your area, but that doesn’t mean that PestControl.com is going to be available (it isn’t, in case you were inclined to check!) So what do you do if yourbusinessname.com is unavailable? Well you have some options.

First, you can look to other extensions, .net is a popular alternative, or, if you can use your countries top-level-domain, i.e. .com.my for Malaysia, .com.sg for Singapore, .co.uk for Britain, .ca for Canada, etc. Often times names that are unavailable as .com will be up for grabs in these extensions.

Secondly, you can look to add descriptive words into your domain name. For instance if your business name is Apex, and you’re an automotive brake manufacturer, when you can’t get Apex.com, you can always try ApexAutomotive.com, ApexBrakes.com, etc. As long as the domain isn’t so long, or totally unrelated to your business, it’ll be ok.

There is also another domain option that any business that operates locally should explore. That option is domains based around local keywords. The reason these domains are worthwhile is that when a potential customer does a search in Google, the domain name is factored into the algorithm that decides which entries to show first. So for example, if a web user goes to Google and types in “Malaysia Property”, then the website with the domain name MalaysiaProperty.com will get a boost in the search rankings and will likely come up prominently. Both Google and Bing do clearly give an “exact match domain” bump when ranking websites that contain a searched for target keyword.

Besides, when browsing through the lists of links on search engine results pages, some studies have shown that people are far more likely to click links that contain the keyword they are searching for in the domain name. Many of these keyword rich, location specific domain names are readily available, and businesses that operate locally should always consider them for their web marketing efforts.

One important question that often comes up is what to do if a company’s name.com isn’t available, but is up for sale. How much is a domain worth and at what price is it worth it to buy? Well, that is a pretty tough question to answer because it depend on the age of the domain, no. of words, PageRank, whether it’s .com and many other factors. Just FYI, sex.com was sold last year for a whopping US$13 million!

One thing is for absolute certain though, domain names are going, and they’re going fast. Most short .com domains and most .com domains with common words are already gone, and many of the other extensions are quickly beginning to sell out. So if you don’t already have your domain name, you should probably seriously considering hitting the web and seeing what’s available, because if you wait too long, you might miss out on everything good and end up having to spend some serious cash in order to secure yourself a quality domain name for your businesses web efforts.

Even if your company name is the domain name, it is also a good idea to register other relevant keyword-rich domains pertaining to your products and services especially the domain fees are so affordable. It costs only US$10 per annum at GoDaddy for .com domain! This is like investing in “virtual real estate”. It will be helpful when you will want to develop specialized sites in future. This strategy also keeps these choice domain names out of the hands of future competitors, making it harder for them to enter your market.

In conclusion, the domain name is a key search engine algorithmic ranking factor - for the time being. However, it is likely to change soon, especially when Matt Cutts of Google has hinted in his recent video:

We give too much weight to keywords in domain and we will make some changes to the algorithm to adjust this.

Nevertheless, it’s still a sound strategy to pursue a domain that is catchy and includes a keyword. If a keyword focused domain is not possible, then consider something that is catchy and brandable.

Web DesignFor many people, the idea of having a website is mostly focused on its design, whether the design may entice customers to choose your company products and services, or just skimp away to the next available. This may be the idea that stayed in the minds of people who are accustomed to traditional marketing, since advertising through various media in the traditional ways will be displayed to capture the attention of the public quite explicitly.

Unlike traditional media, the world wide web is a vast space and there is no way that your website will be able to show itself to capture an audience with a creative design. The tool that you have to capture such an audience is in your site ranking, giving you more opportunity to actually get noticed by potential visitors, with words only.

1. Web Analytics

Google Analytics

Hence, the most important thing that you should have as you launch your new website is to install a web analytics. One free program that you may use is obviously Google Analytics, and it will give you the most important statistics that you may need to see how you may strategize so that your website will rank higher in the search engines. Other free software that you may use may incude GoStats and Footprint Analytics. Footprint Analytics actually gives real-time analytics about the web visitors who are currently active on the website. Most web hosting services already have some tracking capabilities already packaged within your purchase, so the only task is to understand how to use the statistics to your best advantage.

Besides visitors analytics, you may wish to have the RSS Feed Analytics as well. If you want to improve on the reach and quality of the feed you are putting to your visitors, you will need data to support your decisions. It will be wise to install an RSS Feed Analytics such as Feedburner to track which feed attracts and which do not, and how to promote them. However, do not be eager to show your counters too early, since it will be bad publicity if visitors see that the counter for a particular feed is at zero.

2. Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools

The second thing that you should do is to set up a Google and Bing Webmaster Tools Accounts, as both may monitor data about your site and message it back to you easily. These tools help you understand where you stand in the search engine’s perspective, and they will reveal to you those important data that will help you strategize to be in their good books. Although they may not be very accurate, nevertheless these tools will improve through time and it is wise to have them ready by then.

3. Crawl Simulation

A third thing that you should do, and not miss out, is to run a crawl simulation of your site. This is important, just to avoid broken links, missing titles, improper redirects, and perhaps other problems such as files blocked by robots.txt, etc that may hinder your progress. There are several free tools to help with this, such as Xenu and GSiteCrawler. This is actually a step that all site builders and developers should execute, so that there will not be any problems later as your visitor base starts building up, because visitors are likely distracted and leave your site if they find that a link does not work. They can always go elsewhere.

4. Browser Compatibility Test

If there is anything that you should think about when it comes to design of a website is its compatibility with different browsers and devices. The most common browsers are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari. Since there are also a lot of devices and gadgets in the market, you might wish to ensure that your website has a version which is compatible to these gadgets. For example, a common complain is that the iPad is not able to see flash content, and page loading on these handy devices may be a bit too slow. Some designers will propose to create pages quite similar to your website specially for smart phone and other non-computer logins, and you may see the example in facebook.

5. Actions Tracking

Event Tracking

There is also a need to expand your analysis to actions taken by your visitors especially when they put your content into their social media, either by tweeting your content to others or letting others know that they “like” your content on Facebook. It is important to at least track how many visitors took these actions which will contribute positively to your site, and you may track this by using Google Analytics’ Event Tracking. You may discover that most of your visitors like your content and repost them on Facebook, and a lot of your traffic comes from there even though you have always thought that your visitors come from twitter. It makes a difference, as you may then strategize to concentrate on Facebook instead.

Your website should also have some ways to measure its success or failure, based on some key metrics. The quantitative measures will be the proof of whether what you are doing is bringing your business on the right track or does it actually need a particular focus. This measure should be set up before you launch your site, so that you will already have a way to gather reliable statistics and document them for further analysis of your website consistently.

6. Brand Tracking

Google AlertYou may want to keep track of those websites that make a mention of your name in their content. But how do you know there is such a backlink? You may wish to use the Google Alerts, which is free. It is not the most perfect tool, but it is better than none.

You may also want to keep track by setting up a series of queries that can run on a regular basis, perhaps even automated. It may include the mention of your brand name in a series of combination for

as the most basic of all, and even for Facebook if you wish to, since Facebook surpassed Google as the site with the most visitors and it has its own search capability with Bing.

7. List Building

List BuildingBefore you launch your website, it will be good to ensure that you have a feedback form that will enable an email sign-up or subscription, if you have not already done so. This is not just an “automatic must have” item, but it is useful to capture your audience email address for use later on to promote new content, product and offerings. Use different things to entice your audience, the most common being a free newsletter or ebook. The significance of this is to build a database of your visitors that will become an asset for your business.

8. Social Media

Social MediaWhen we talk about website, social media will always be in the picture. It will be useful for you to create an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Profiles, YouTube and Flickr. Each has a different niche, with Facebook being the biggest social network site that you may find. You may create a profile on Facebook or a commercial Page. Either way, Facebook is the fastest way to reach out to your customers when you have a new promotion that will involve some beautiful advertisements, and a huge following.

There are many more social media site, but these are the few worth spending your time on. One thing which you need to take note is that you may need to customize your bio in the various social media so that it attracts the different groups of users within that media itself. If you have a Facebook account, you may wish to portray your products as fun and fresh, and if you have LinkedIn, you may wish to project the image of serious professionalism. Whatever network you register with, be sure to link it back to your main website so that it will drive the traffic up in search engines.

9. Keywords for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization

If you have not known it yet, you probably did not get the best advice for websites. We are talking about keywords, and it will be important for you to determine your keywords by doing a good research about them first. However, do not undermine search engines intelligence. You should never spam your keywords with those that are not related to your business just because these words draw high traffic in the search engines. Get keywords that are useful and relevant instead.

More tips about how to select the right keywords for your SEO plan.

 

Your website, once you launch it, is indeed a product of its own that will require marketing and maintenance, not just a tool for your clients to see and forget.

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