Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Domain NameCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/webhosting4india/8178404682

Having the right domain name is critical to the success of an online business. If you’re in the process of choosing a domain name or your website, read this article as it contains all you need to know to pick the right name for your online presence.

What is a domain name?

In a world of over 6 billion people, our names differentiate us from other people. It’s the same on the Internet (as we have so many websites but each is differentiated from the other by domain names). A domain name is one of the things you need to have a website running. The other two are web hosting and web design.

Why Get a Domain Name?

  • You have your own unique web address that you can send friends, family and prospects to. They can always associate you with the name.
  • You have your own virtual real estate (VRE) that you can sell anytime you want to.
  • Your site can climb higher in the search engines if you publish information that contains the keywords that visitors are searching with. You can get these keywords through keyword research tools. This is not to say a free sub-domain cannot get traffic through the search engines.
  • You can send and receive email through your unique address. Corresponding online through your own email address like you@your-name-of-choice.com instead of your Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail adds a lot of prestige and credibility to your online presence.

Tips for Choosing a Domain Name

  • Your domain name can be equated to your name in real life, so, make it exciting, memorable and brandable.
  • Your domain name should be short and easy-to-spell. I know it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get a two or three-word domain but tweak your domain name until you get a short and easy-to-spell name.
  • Your domain must be keyword-rich. It must contain words related to what you want to do on the website. For instance, if your website is going to be about motivation, find a way to put motivation in the domain name.
  • Beware of using numerals (people can see zero as the letter o) and slangs (such as 4 instead of four, 2 instead of to) in a domain name. Chances are, people would be confused and go to your competitor’s website.
  • Avoid domain names with brand names. I would never choose a domain name that has a brand name as because it amounts to a wasted effort when the brand owner asks you to drop the name or even takes you to court. I have read horror stories by bloggers who faced this kind of copyright troubles and all I’m saying is; steer clear of this.
  • People should be able to say what your website is about just from hearing the domain name. It should be clear and straight-to-the-point.
  • Avoid hyphenated domain names. People just won’t remember there are hyphens in your domain name and end up on your competitor’s website. Okay, try telling someone to go to del.icio.us over the phone.
  • Your domain name should have the .com extension. Most people see the .com as the default domain name extension, so, when you use other extensions (such as .org, .biz, .name, .me, etc), most people who would have visited your site end up visiting your competitor’s because he’s got the .com extension. I know you’re thinking what if the website is for a not-for-profit? That is a different matter altogether as I’m addressing domain name tips for commercial websites and not organizations or not-for-profits in this article. Just to show you the importance of this, I read somewhere that Darren Rowse, the popular blogger behind problogger.net had to cough out $5000 to purchase problogger.com to avoid losing traffic to a competitor.

Finding a Reliable Domain Registrar

If you’ve decided on the domain name to use, make sure you register with a reliable registrar. I got a bad taste of this very early in my Internet Business journey as I had a domain name taken over from me by the registrar. As I write, I no longer have access to the domain. In fact, I was recently asked to purchase it but I refused to!

So, learn from my mistake and go with domain registrars that are ICANN accredited. This would be boldly displayed on their site. ICANN stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. You can also use a registrar certified by an ICANN-accredited domain name registrar as a reseller if it’s a generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) – which can be found on the ICANN website.

You don’t want to wake up and discover your registration was illegal; so do the relevant checks. If it’s a country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), check to see that the registrar is certified by the country’s sponsoring organization if it’s a country. This can be found on the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) website.

Other things you should check out include their policies as regards domain renewals. Do they have a system of informing website owners their domain is due? Do they have a forgiveness policy whereby you can still renew a few days after the domain is expired?  Can they be trusted with your domain name? Are they an established business that will not collapse and disappear with domain registration records?

If you’re on a budget and want cheap domain registration, you can go for hosting packages that promise you free domain registration (but make sure you check how many years the domain is registered, when you’re required to renew and how much the renewal will cost). Also make sure you can control the domain, sort of. What I mean by this is; can you move the domain to a new registrar if you want to? Can you change the domain name server if their hosting is bad? Can you lay claim to owning the domain name? All these should be considered to avoid the troubles and heartaches that come with loosing a domain name you’ve spent a lot of energy, resources and time promoting. Don’t forget that the loss of a domain name equals the loss of that particular business you were doing with the domain.

If you ask me, I’d say I never host and register a domain name with the same company. I have two companies (one for hosting and the other for domain registration). I prefer to host and register my domain names separately; I just connect them together with the domain name server (DNS). That’s my preference; if you prefer to do both with the same company; I already told you the things to check out.

Summary and Action TakeAway

Now that you know the qualities of good domain names, it’s time to search for a domain name and register a solid online presence for yourself. Wish you the best as you do so. But always remember to keep your domain names simple and unique. There's no need to complicate matters. Read more tips for make money online beginners as well as tips for beginning bloggers.