Monday, January 23, 2012

Choosing Domain Names

Choosing a domain name is important. Here are some things that I've learned and used about domain names myself and with our clients.

Some of our clients and others that we have talked to spend much time and energy thinking about domain name choices and trying to strategize using the perfect domain name.

People also are enamored with .com as the holy grail of domain name extensions, when .org, .net. and others will operate perfectly well.

What it comes down to in my experience is that the real value of a domain name is predominately related to marketing. In other words, what name do you want to promote on your business cards, advertising, websites, etc.

From a marketing point of view, the only reason .com may have more marketing push is because it has been the one that millions of people have focused on and so it is easy to remember, but that is more of a minor point than many make it out to be.

Many people try to use creative phrases, such as IFixMRight, MyPonieTail, and such and these are not helpful generally. There are several reasons. One is that these spellings are hard to remember. Would someone type Ifixthemright, I fixemright, or something else? MyPonieTail is a problem because it is an uncommon spelling of the word Pony. In addition, adding the word 'my' isn't helpful. Many times the reason these choices are what they are is because the common spellings have been taken.

Some might think these domain names are cute and help say what they do. Let's take MyPonieTail for example. Maybe it is a hair place. It could be a wig shop. It could be a lot of things. But, for the moment, let's say it is a wig shop and the owner is Carol. In my opinion, it would be far better to go with CarolsWigs than anything like MyPonieTail. The same would apply with a beauty shop.

Another issue is choosing something that is common. Sometimes people choose a name because of the human value it represents, such as, service, trust, trustworthy, value, integrity, hope, and so on. These words are so common that it means that you have to create so many pages on the web in order to even be found because there are so many businesses across the country with names that include those words. You're creating an almost insurmountable problem in coming up on page one of the search engines because of the volume of similar names out there. Far better to choose a unique name and show up immediately.

I will use our business Upward Trend as an example. Our business name is Upward Trend Management Services, LLC. We go by Upward Trend because that is the way most people remember our name. Upward Trend is a very common phrase and is an uphill battle to try to come up in the search engines. Fortunately, because we have a volume of clients, we have hundreds of pages on the web and after a year or so, we then showed up on page one when typing Upward Trend. If we were just a regular business, we might never show up on page one with a name like this.

We own, but we never use it. It goes to our website, but we never would give a name like this out for marketing because it is way too long. So we bought to use for marketing. Why .org? Because to get .com would have cost in excess of $5,000 from a speculator, and .net was already used, so we chose .org. Now, .org is normally used by organizations like non-profits and the like, but since it is widely used, we went for it anyway. Upward Trend is easy enough to remember and spell, but .org is not as memorable. No problem, all we do is accentuate the last part when we speak it. It has worked just fine.

With most of our clients, unless they insist otherwise, we choose at least one domain for them and often lightly encourage them to use that in marketing. For example, we have a client whose business name is West Coast Truck Equipment Inc. and they own the domain, Simple. It's just their name. But it is not simple to type and remember and having two t's together in the name makes it look wrong even after you've typed it. So, we suggested using something shorter and easier and they took us up on it. The one they now market with is The value of this is the shortness of it. was already taken, so we added the inc which is really easy and now it works way better for them. It fits better on their stickers and cards and such and it is easier for clients to deal with as well. Of course the other domain is still functioning. You can have as many domain names pointing to a site you would like, it is just that each one has an annual cost.

Some feel the need to have what they do and/or how they do it somehow in the domain name--sort of like a slogan domain name.,,, are some examples of this idea. These are not helpful really. It is also generally not helpful to include numbers and letters, such as,, or double meaning creative names like, for a tree service, and such. It is best to choose a domain that is easy to say, read, type and spell and use that in your promotion, and I recommend one that is unique if possible.

In summary, what is most important on the web for search engines is current, relevant content, and not domain names. So filling in your website with all the information you can will be most helpful. One the websites we build, you could have hundreds of pages of content, and much of it doesn't need to be in the navigation, but the more content that is on the site, the more content is searchable. Tell the world anything and everything that they could possibly ever want to know and then throw in a bunch just for the heck of it.

Terry Minion,

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