Establish your business name online
By Stacey Hartman
For entrepreneurs just starting out, advice will come from everywhere. There are often conflicting options and information coming at you, from how to target your desired audience all the way down to the decor for your storefront.
However, there is one crucial bit of advice that shouldn’t be ignored, especially early on in the planning stages — registering your business domain name as soon as possible.
Getting a memorable domain is increasingly important, as it heavily shapes your online business identity. In many cases, your domain is your identity. With that in mind, let’s explore several considerations when selecting your business’s domain name.
Find your domain early
When you’re starting a new business, you can choose your business name and domain name at the same time. Choosing your digital identity early via your domain name helps to simplify the business naming process.
While choosing the operating name for your business has some slightly different considerations than a domain name alone would, it’s beneficial to choose both together.
Resist the temptation to put the domain registration process off until later. You’ll want to get your business name and domain name hammered out as early in the process as possible to avoid losing out on your perfect domain.
Domain names move fast, so you’ll need to move fast as well.
Once you have your business name selected, you’ll want to start formulating the domain that fits your business. There are plenty of pieces to the digital puzzle when it comes to finding that perfect domain, but there are a few specifics for entrepreneurs to call out:
- Length: Length matters when it comes to a business domain. Long, complicated, hard-to-type domains tend to turn users off. Shorter, easy to spell names are more memorable, so keep it simple.
- Memorability: You’ll also want to focus on keeping your domain memorable, as it’ll help you to stand out in an increasingly crowded digital marketplace. With an ever-expanding range of domain extensions available now, you’re no longer limited to the common domain extensions. Have fun and be creative.
- Research: Do some research before you register your name. Specifically, you will want to be sure that your great domain idea isn’t too close to another business name, as well as making sure that it’s not already trademarked or in use. During your research, keep in mind that domains are not case sensitive, so be sure that your desired domain doesn’t rely on specific letter casing to make sense.
Once you have some ideas in place, run the domains by your friends and family to see what they think. A domain might look great on paper, but could be misunderstood when said out loud. Or, you might not see a possible alternate (and potentially negative) way that your domain could be viewed by others.
Get more than one business domain
There are a ton of new domain extensions already on the market and more being added constantly, so we don’t recommend limiting yourself to a single domain.
From a brand security standpoint, purchasing the available variations of your business name can help keep your business name untarnished.
With that said, while it’s definitely not necessary to buy your domain in every single extension available, you’ll want to at least grab the usual group (.com, .org and .net) when you’re registering your primary domain. However, be aware that there are also geographic (.nyc, .us, .vegas, etc) and industry-specific (.shop, .online, .consulting, etc) domains that might also fit your company nicely.
Pro tip: Keep an eye out on future domain extension releases, just in case something awesome comes up in the future.
Another important consideration is to look into registering some of the misspellings of your domain.
Similar to why it’s important to buy multiple domain extensions for your business domain, having misspelled versions of your domain available for registration can open you up to bad actors taking advantage of users that accidentally misspell your domain. It’s easier to grab those domains now than to deal with the potential heartache of having your business exploited down the road.
You might not have the full picture on common ways that your domain is being misspelled right away, though, so it’s a helpful idea to get a quality analytics service running on your site as soon as possible (such as Google Analytics). Google Analytics can tell you what search terms people are using to get to your site and that might include misspellings of your name.
Cruise the domain aftermarket
With all of those other suggestions in mind, what if the domain that you’d finally settled on has already been registered? Game over, right? Not quite.
You can check to see if the domain is actually in use by visiting the domain to see if it has any content. If you’re not seeing a live website, chances are, the owner might just be holding the domain to sell it themselves.
But how can you see the owner for that domain? A quick GoDaddy’s Domain Broker Service can help you out. You’ll have access to your own experienced domain broker, who will contact the domain owner and try to negotiate a purchase on your behalf.
In the end, if the domain that you really had your heart set on isn’t available, don’t despair. Have some backup ideas ready, just in case. With a bit of creativity and brainstorming, you might just come up with something even better.
Now that you’ve got your perfect domain in your pocket, get out there and get your business growing!
Stacey Hartman has been with GoDaddy since 2007, working as a product professional throughout the company, specializing in Office 365, domains, SEO, and Local Business Listings. Outside of work, she enjoys playing with corgis, traveling, gaming, reading, and baking award-winning cheesecakes. Connect with Stacey on Twitter.