After you’ve spent some time pondering your new Web site and surfing the Internet looking for inspiration, it’s time to make your first financial investment. Once you’ve committed yourself to developing a Web site, you should get a domain name.
A domain name is simply the text you type into the address bar to get to a Web site, such as www.Amazon.com. Every business Web site should have a memorable domain name. Do not try to cheap out by using a “free” domain from your Internet provider. It’s unprofessional and the Web address will difficult for your customers to remember. After all, if your company name is Acme Widgets, www.myinternetprovider.com/~acmewidgets is pretty forgettable. It’s a lot better to spend the money and buy www.acmewidgets.com
Of course, now that the Internet has been around for a while, you can’t get a short, simple domain name like Amazon.com anymore. In fact, finding a domain name that isn’t already taken can be a bit of a challenge. To register a domain name, you need to visit a domain name registrar. My favorite is www.GoDaddy.com; we have all our domains registered there. We like GoDaddy because their customer service is good and it only costs about $8.00 or $9.00 to register a name for a year.
Before you get started at the domain registrar, it helps to have already brainstormed a few names or terms. If you have an unusual business name, the best thing is probably to just use your business name as your domain name. In our case, our company name uses fairly unusual words. Plus, we bought it more than 10 years ago, so getting LogicalExpressions.com was no problem.
However, if you are a self-employed editor named Jane Doe, the odds of you getting JaneDoe.com are virtually zero. In that case, you might try adding keywords that relate to your business. So you might check to see if JaneDoeEditing.com is taken. Or leave your name out entirely and stick to keywords that relate to your business. If you use keywords, be very careful to make sure that by combining words, you don’t inadvertently create others. Long ago, there was a software product called PublishIt. Many people read the last four letters differently than the manufacturer intended. Don’t make that mistake.
At the domain registrar, you’ll quickly discover that you aren’t limited to “.com” domains. They’ll be quick to point out that even though the .com might be taken, you can still get the .net, .org, .tv and so forth. My advice is to avoid all these variants and just stick with .com. Realistically, people looking for a site, try .com first. Plus, if another company has registered the .com, you can end up with endless confusion between you and another company. Confusion is never good online.
After you’ve found a name that’s available, get out your credit card, and follow the steps online to register it. Be sure to use a reliable, working e-mail address for the contact because domain registrars use e-mail to confirm the purchase. Armed with a domain, you are one step closer to your Internet presence.