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.

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