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Guide to Choosing a Domain Name for Your Business Website

A million small details go into the founding of a business. One that seems to cause a disproportionate amount of angst for entrepreneurs is finding the perfect name. It should be easy to pronounce and remember. More importantly, it should be available online for you to register as a domain name.

What is a Domain?

Let’s start with the basics. A domain is your address on the internet and it’s one of the most critical aspects of your online success. Domain names help to build brand recognition in the same way your business’ name or products can. In fact, a well-chosen domain address will increase your business’ website traffic and in turn, impact your bottom line positively.

Choosing a Domain Name for Your Website

Here’s a quick question for you: How many registered domain names are out there currently? Worldwide, we’re currently sitting at over six billion registered domains. It’s a saturated market, meaning you’ll have to factor availability alongside brand recognition and user appeal. Here are some tips to help clarify your decision.

Do Your Research

The world of digital marketing revolves around research. From analytics, to Google AdWords and SEO, an entire industry has sprung up around online data and analytics. You can leverage this data to help you choose an effective domain name. Start by listing all the keywords relating to your business. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your target demographic. What are the terms they most search for relating to your industry? Two powerful tools to leverage to help delve into this subject are Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends.

Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner should form the cornerstone of your digital marketing efforts in the long-term but it’s useful in a variety of other ways. Take the core product or service you offer. Enter it into Google’s Keyword Planner and it will spit out hundreds of associated keywords relating to your industry. Use these to brainstorm potential domain names.

Google Trends

The second part of this research involves utilizing the data found in Google Trends. Once you’ve settled on some potential names, insert them into Google Trends to see whether searches are rising or falling in this area. Try to settle on a term that’s seeing rising demand online.

Keep it Simple

Your domain name doesn’t need to convey any complex ideas. In fact, if it’s long and complex you run the risk of customers mistyping or misspelling it. Avoid slang or words with multiple spellings. If you’re an accountant or a baker (for example) it might be worth incorporating those terms into your domain name for added visibility. Similarly, if you are running a local-specific business, it might be worth putting your city/town into your domain name.

Check Domain Name Availability

The next step is to assess whether your preferred domain is available. Using a website like Webnames (a Canadian registrar) and type the name you want into the search box. Make sure to check all of your top choices as well as variations of it. Considering how cheap it is to register a domain, it’s worth registering variations of your name and potential common misspellings and re-directing them towards your chosen domain. Redirecting is a simple process and do-able within the Webnames interface.

Picking the Correct Domain Extension

The good (and bad) news is that you have an almost infinite amount of domain name extensions to choose from. These are the letter combinations to the right of the domain name after the period (.com/.ca). Below is a list of some of the more common domain extensions you’ll see online.

  • .com is the most popular and important extension for those selling on the Internet, yet it is also the least available
  • .ca Short for “Canada” also available, .uk (United Kingdom), .nl (Netherlands) etc. These are country specific extensions
  • .biz Short for “business” – created as a supplement to .com addresses
  • .org Short for “organization” – designed for use by non-profit making organizations such as charities and clubs
  • .net Short for “network” – originally designed for use by Internet Service Providers
  • .edu Short for “education” – designed for educational organizations
  • .gov Short for “government” – designed for use by government
  • .info Short for “information” – unrestricted use

As a Canadian-based business, securing a .ca extension for your website is highly recommended. However, there’s nothing stopping you from securing multiple extensions and redirecting them to your main domain.

Registering Your Domain Name

You’ve done the hard work, registering your domain name is easy. To see a list of current registration authorities, visit the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The cost incurred for registering a domain name is dependent on the extension you choose but will likely average between $30 and $50 a year. This will usually be paid by a recurring credit card payment.

Find Out More

Ready to take your small business online? Small Business BC offers a selection of education in this area. Attend our Creating Your First Business Website seminar, or speak to our website expert as part of our Talk to an Expert series.

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