Business Times of Edmond, Oklahoma March 2020 - Page 30

BUSINESS MATTERS TIM PRIEBE W ebifiable A How to Pick Your Domain Name domain name is an important part of your online identity. While some people will find you through Google, many others will go directly to your website by typing in the domain name. And more likely than not, you’ll use it on any print advertising, on your business cards, and it will also be a part of your professional email address. So how do you know which domain name to pick? What are you really buying? Let’s start off with what a domain name actually is. While I could go into all the nerdy details of DNS records, IP addresses, the relationship between ICANN, the registry, and the registrar, I won’t. Instead, let’s just look at what you’re buying when you buy a domain name. You may have wondered if it’s better to get a .com, .net, .us, or one of the many other options that have become available in recent years. That part of your domain name is known as the TLD — top level domain. If you can get a .com, that’s great. But often the .com domain name you really want is already taken. So let’s say you finally find something you’re happy with, or at least okay with. When you purchase your domain, you don’t actually own it forever. Instead, you’re essentially leasing it for a set number of years. Most domain name registrars give you the options of anywhere from one to 10 years. Often they also give an option to have it automatically renew, assuming your credit card information is up to date when that renewal date comes around. So what do you do if the domain name you want is already taken? And what should you even look for in a domain name? 30 March 2020 | The Business Times Guidelines for your domain name. The good news is, if the domain name you want is already taken, many registrars will recommend alternative choices. When evaluating those choices or coming up with new ideas, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you don’t want a domain name that’s too long. My rule of thumb is to try to keep it 10 characters long — excluding the TLD — or shorter. So example.com would be seven characters long. The longer your domain is, the more work people have to do to pull up your website. And the more likely they are to make a mistake.You may still want to purchase your exact business name to be sure nobody else gets it. But your main domain name should be something 10 characters long or shorter. Next, your domain name can’t contain any special characters. If your business name has an ampersand in it like ours does here at T&S Online Marketing, you’re out of luck. Domain names can actually only have letters or a hyphen in them. While a page on your website can have a longer address that includes special characters, your domain name is more limited. In fact, I typically recommend people not even use hyphens and just stick to letters. While some people think hyphens are fine, some people view them as unprofessional. Third, be sure your domain name doesn’t accidentally spell something you don’t intend for it to. Domain names don’t have spaces in them and are not caps sensitive. That means regardless of how you type it in, it’s really all lowercase. One infamous example of this is the domain name speedofart.com. While it was intended to be Speed of Art, many took it to be Speed o’ Fart. And there are much worse examples than that. Fourth, be sure to pick an appropriate TLD. The .com domain is intended for for- profit businesses, while .org is intended for nonprofit organizations. And now there are tons of TLDs to pick from. If you’re in the film industry, you might consider .film. If you’re a photographer, .pics could be a good choice. An attorney can even get .attorney. And not every registrar sells every TLD. You may need to look up a list of TLDs online to find one you like, then look up which registrar actually sells it. Finally, in an ideal world, your domain name — excluding the TLD — would be the same as your social media usernames. So if you purchased example.com, yourFacebook page would be at facebook.com/example, your LinkedIn page would be at linkedin. com/in/example, and your Instagram account would be at instagram.com/ example. Of course, an experienced digital marketer will help you navigate all these factors and more. While your domain name can be changed later, that comes with a cost. It costs money to have print material updated, and even your Google ranking will most likely suffer. It’s best to pick well at the very beginning. TIM PRIEBE is an online marketer, a public speaker, the author of several books and many articles, a Christian, a painter, a Superman fan, a Star Trek geek, a father to three boys, and a husband to one wife. He has run T&S Online Marketing since 2003, helping business and nonprofits with their digital marketing. He can be reached at tim@tandsgo.com or 405-285-0348. For more information visit tandsgo.com.