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Michael Rielly
Michael Rielly

Tips on Choosing a Good Domain Name

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Tips on Choosing a Good Domain Name

One of the most important things to consider when building your website is the domain name. Here are a few tips that may help.

First let's discuss the difference between a domain name and a URL. The following example illustrates the difference between a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and a domain name:

Registered Domain Name: clausnet.com
URL: http://www.clausnet.com/

A URL can be thought of as the "address" of a web page. The URL is sometimes referred to as a "web address." The URL "points" to a specific location on the website.

A Domain consists of two main parts or labels which are separated by dots, such as: "clausnet.com". The rightmost label indicates the top-level domain (TLD). There are a limited number of top level domains.

com - commercial business
net - generic network
gov - government agencies
mil - military agencies
edu - educational institutions
org - non profit organizations

Additionally, they are are country specific TLD such as:

ca - Canada
us - United States
uk - United Kingdom
au - Australia

Each part or label to the left specifies a subdomain of the domain above it. In the case of "clausnet.com", "clausnet" is the subdomain above the top level domain of "com". Typically this is the unique part of the name. This part is normally the business or brand name.

And if you are still awake at this point, the "www" label of the domain name indicates the web server that handles Internet request.

Your Domain Name Should be Your Website Name
Okay, now that we know what a domain name, lets talk about choosing one. Most importantly, be sure that your website (or business) name is the same as your domain name. If you go by "Santa Mike", then that is likely the first thing people with search on or enter in their browser when trying to locate you. When people think of your business, they think of it by name. If your name is also the web address, they will automatically know where to go. (i.e.; santamike.com)

Short Domain Names or Long Domain Names
A domain names can be up to 67 characters long. So, you don't have to settle for an obscure domain name like vfstnick.com when what you really want to is visitsfromsaintnick.com.

However, there is something to be said about a shorter easier to remember and easier to type domain name as well. Longer domain names maybe easier to remember but they are often much more prone to typos.

Of course these days it is very hard to get a short and meaningful domain name. I haven't checked recently, but I am pretty sure that "santa.com" and "santaclaus.com" are no longer available.

Another advantage to longer domain names is that they have your website's keywords in the domain name itself. This gives the advantage with Google and other search engines.

Hyphenated Domain Names
I am often asked about hyphens in a domain name. When it comes to hyphens in the domian name there are more disadvantages than advantages. The first is that it is easy to forget the hyphens when typing the name. If eBay used the domain e-bay.com, how many people would end up typing ebay.com? There are thousands of websites set up everyday to profit off of misspelled domain names.

Secondly, when people recommend your site to their friends verbally, hyphens in your domain name can potentially lead to errors. How do you think people will refer to your site if it is named "santa-claus-for-hire.com"? They might say, "Hey, check out his website; santa claus for hire dot com." Most people would type into their browsers: "santaclausforhire.com".

Only in certain instances do hyphens benefit a website. For example, santa-claus-experts.com instead of santaclausexperts.com...

The most common question on choosing a domain is what TLD to use. There are several schools of though on this.

Some say that it is best to have the domain name of your choice, "santaclaus", even if it has a TLD of "dot net" or "dot org" rather than settle for an obscure domain name for the simple reason you can't get your first choice. Thus they would settle for domain names like "santaclaus.org" or "santaclaus.net" -- just so they can have "santa claus" in the domain.

Others argue that only the "dot com" extension is acceptable on the grounds that browsers automatically default to the "dot com" extension. Therefore if your site was "santaclaus.net" and someone entered simply "santaclaus" in the browser it would automatically assume "santaclaus.com"

My recommendation is to always grab the dot com domain. If the domain name you want is not available, then think about working your name around to fit a "dot com" instead of working domain extensions around to fit your name. However, if you get a domain name with an extension other than " dot com", make sure that you promote your website with the full domain name. For example, if your domain name is "santaclaus.net", make sure that when you advertise your site, call it "santaclaus.net" not "santaclaus". Otherwise people will assume a "dot com" extension.


Edited by Michael Rielly

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