As an initial step in launching a business, I always ask my clients, “Have you selected a domain name?” This is a crucial starting point, as aligning your business name with your primary domain name is a vital marketing strategy. Consistency here avoids customer confusion and ensures they can effortlessly locate your website.
Consider this scenario: you’re opening ‘Northwest Bike Store.’ Ideally, you should check if ‘northwestbikestore.com’ is available as a domain. I typically use GoDaddy for such searches. It the domain is available opt for the .com version as your primary website. For non-profits, while .org should be primary, also secure the .com version and redirect it to the .org site. This ensures your audience finds you easily, as .com is the most recognized and preferred domain extension.
Remember, domain names are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Securing a business license doesn’t guarantee the corresponding domain name. Therefore, confirm domain availability before finalizing your business name to avoid future hassles and unintentional redirection to another business’s website.
Here are some additional guidelines for domain name acquisition:
- Opt for .com: Purchase your primary domain with a .com extension (e.g., ‘northwestbikestore.com’). For non-profits, use .org but also secure the .com version.
- Buy Variations: Domains are affordable, so consider buying different .com variations of your domain name (like ‘nwbikestore.com’ and ‘northwestbikeshop.com’). Forward these to your primary domain to prevent others from using similar names.
- Cover Your Bases: In competitive markets, it’s wise to also secure the .info, .net, and .org versions of your domain. While they don’t boost SEO, they prevent competitors from using similar domains.
- Privacy is Key: Opt for privacy protection. When you register a domain, your contact information becomes public. Privacy protection, usually around $10/year, shields you from spam calls and emails.
- Maintain Ownership: Ensure you are the registered owner of your domain. Often, clients don’t know where their domain is hosted or lack login details, usually because a former partner or designer registered it. To avoid complications, transfer the domain to your own account (like on GoDaddy) and ensure you have full control.
- Auto-Renew is Crucial: Set your domain to auto-renew. Even if you have a long-term registration, you may miss renewal notifications, leading to your domain expiring. This can disrupt your website and email services. Auto-renewal eliminates this risk.
Domains are a vital asset to your business. Their affordability shouldn’t undermine their importance. By following these tips, you’ll ensure your domain is a valuable and secure component of your business’s online presence.