Thursday, November 29, 2007

Choosing a Domain Name

In the physical world, you can distinguish a business because of its structure, window displays, or signs. You can tell that a bank is a bank, or a clothing store is indeed a clothing store. In the Internet, however, it is an entirely different story altogether. Your domain name is the only clue to your online business.

You do not have visual clues: no location, no look, and no store design. Instead, users have to type in a word or a set of words to reach your site. Your prospective visitor has no way of knowing what your site is all about until she finds it and reads its contents. Who can ever tell that sells books? Or that Excite is a search engine?

Your domain name can spell your success on the Internet. A good domain name is the best asset you can ever have. It can make your business stand out in the crowd, or just float aimlessly in space. The need to provide immediate clues to an online business led to the prevalence of generic domain names. Generic names instantly provide the user with an idea of what a business is all about, what to expect and look for in a site. For instance, is a toy store. The temptation of the generic name has been so powerful; that some companies even paid ridiculously high prices to get the name they want. The domains and were both bought for $3 million each. was acquired for $1.75 million, while sold for $1.1 million.

However, generic names do not necessarily create the “buzz” that you’d like surrounding your website. Branding has always been about proper names: McDonald's did not name their store Hamburger. Hertz is not called Car Rental. FedEx is not Mail Carrier. Kodak is not Photographs. Google is not Search Engine. Microsoft is not Computer Software.

For better branding results, your domain name should stand out and be easy to remember. Consider the following tips when creating a domain name:

.. The domain name should be short
.. The domain name should be simple
.. It should be suggestive of your business category
.. It should be unique
.. It should be easy to interpret and pronounce
.. It should be personalized
.. It should not be difficult to spell
.. It should not be difficult to remember
Domain names can be registered through many different companies (known as "registrars") - a listing of these companies is available at You can register for domain names from 1 to 10 years in advance and prices can vary anywhere from $8 to $30 per

year for each registered domain. Most website hosting companies, as explained later, will handle the registration process for you, but make sure that you are properly listed as the owner of the domain when it is registered. If you have registered a domain name for a specific period, make sure you renew it in time. You’d be surprised at the number of cases, where website owners have lost their domain name to a competitor by not renewing it in time.

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