Choosing Small Business Website Names
Posted by Jim Degerstrom on: 2007-07-08 23:01:42
Self SEO > Domain Name Articles
I disagree with the comment made by some web developers that all the good domain names are taken. Search engine optimization, or seo, does not depend heavily on the www name you select. For my clients just starting out the decision choosing small business website names has never been an issue. It is a fact that all the 3 character and 4 character domain names with the key extensions are taken. Furthermore, I agree that a vast number of choice domain names are no longer available; however, the selection of a suitable www domain for your small business is possible if you remain flexible.
The real value in the name you choose from a search perspective is how easy it is to spell and remember. Of the two types of visitors to your site, the human visitors and search engines, the ability of a person to remember your domain name and spell it correctly to pass it on to others outweighs any SEO value. Search engines are robots and don't care.
Using words like "greatest", "best", or other exaggerated terms in your domain name is thought by some to be a disadvantage and penalized by search engines. Search algorithms change often and likewise that theory, and although you may not be penalized for using such words, consider the reaction of your human visitors. They may not stick around if they feel you boast without the content to back it up. For a serious small business commercial enterprise, my advice is avoiding adjectives in the domain name entirely.
In some cases new clients approach me to redesign an existing website, and it surprises me that some of the basics are overlooked. For example, a commercial enterprise in business for profit should not select a dot ORG domain simply because the dot COM was taken. This was the case from a conversation with a client interested in a site makeover. Their ORG version was online for two years with little or no backlinks or serious indexing from search engines. The mindset of getting one particular name should be reconsidered especially if it's your first online venture.
Here's a breakdown of the most desirable domain extensions and the usual purpose of each:
COM - Commercial for profit enterprise
INFO - Information only related website
NET - Companies providing internet services
ORG - Non-profit organizations
Certainly there are many more like BIZ, US, WS, and others which are all reasonable choices, but for your commercial small business my recommendation is always acquire a dot COM www domain name. The client mentioned earlier did not realize a dot ORG was intended for a non-commercial enterprise, and they decided the poor website SEO performance was something that justified getting a new dot COM. We easily found an available www domain using their company initials and one key word about their target market which is medical. Despite my advice that they keep the existing site and simply change the theme, they decided to just let it go when it expired.
My commercial site choice was my first and last name, and very unique at that. Using your name is okay, and expected if you're famous. There is, however, little or no value as far as keywords in my www domain to attract visitors, so is that a mistake for search engine optimization? Certainly not. The fact that I have collected more than 100 screenshots of generic phrases relative to my business that made Google page one is evidence the content, not the domain, is key.
Here's some advice to help you when choosing a new dot COM small business website domain name.
Start out with a list of about 10 domain names that you would like to have. Next, make a list of market related single word terms about what you do and the customer base you service. If your market is localized, consider geographical terms that relate to where you sell or provide services. Spend 30 minutes brainstorming to come up with the initial names and additional lists of single word terms. You may want another list of significant initials.
Next, search for "WhoIs" in Google to find free online services that keep a database of available domain names, and follow the link in the search results. Each database has a search box which allows you to input the domain name and extension. Begin with your first choice and work down the list and keep track of available names for review later. It may not be easy, so try combinations of the key terms as you continue to search, and keep in mind you want a domain name that is easy to spell and remember. By the time you're done you should have a half dozen or more available names, so take your time and select the best one, and then register the name immediately.
Tip: The domain name may not be significant for search engine optimization, but the length of your registration can be. My advice is registering domains for 2 years minimum, and 5 to 10 years if that's in your budget. Search engines consider that the length of your registration reflects your commitment to be online long term, so at today's prices 5 years is practical and should cost less than $50 USD.
There's nothing wrong with getting the dot COM domain name you want, and then registering the other major extensions that are available for the same name. If you are highly successful in your online venture, having the other extensions registered in your name prevents others from attempting to take advantage of your reputation by association. In conclusion, the concept that all the good domain names are taken is a myth. You may not get exactly what you want, but practical options are available with a little research and due diligence.
Jim Degerstrom writes small business advice based on 30 years in management, sales, and marketing, including GM or President of small companies in 5 states. He is proficient in website and graphic art design, and runs his online Small Business Resource Center
and offers advice on his Small Business Advice Blog
from Kissimmee, Florida USA.
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