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Plan Your Internet Success – Part 5 – Select a Domain Name


5. Select a Domain Name

The first thing you should understand with the selection of a domain name is that the most obvious ones have usually been taken.  As a result, try to be original and come up with something unique.  While domain names will have an impact on your business, it is more as a result of its identity and recognition than its description of what you do.  Take, for example, Amazon.com: would you associate this name with books and products being sold online?

With this in mind, don’t try to do too many things with your domain name, such as using keywords. I’ve come to the conclusion that so much is at play when it comes to SEO that the domain name plays a small role. However, a catchy name that is attractive, easy to spell and remember can be a great asset.

Here is an example of what not to do: I created a Web site titled “search-engine-optimization-professionals.com” that included all the keywords that I needed.  However, I quickly realized that this name was way too long and too complicated (Not to mention the “s” at the end and to cover myself; I selected two domain names one with the “s” at the end and one without the “s”). But no matter what I did, it was all pointless since many people did exactly the same thing (including keywords and “-“ in their domain names) and Google started penalizing Web sites with domain names including a “-“ in the body of the name.

Bottom line, find something that is easy to remember and spell.

Another thing that you may consider is the extension (.com, .net, .TV, .org, etc.).  I personally like to stay conservative in this area and usually go with the traditional “.com” and in some instances will also get “.net.”

Finally, as a personal preference, I do not recommend that people buy their domain name through their hosting company.

I personally use GoDaddy because I have many domains and GoDaddy offers a platform that enables me to manage my domains relatively easily.

The most important aspect of this platform is that it enables me to re-direct the DNS (also called Nameserver) very easily and, as a result, should I need to switch my ISP to do this very quickly and easily. There are no specific rules to follow when it comes to domain management and I do not endorse GoDaddy.

Resources:

www.godaddy.com

www.buydomains.com/

www.sedo.com

www.register.com

Regardless of what you decide for your domain name, keep in mind that a domain name costs less than $8 annually and if you hesitate between two domain names, buy both of them! Who knows, you may have some variations and testing them may indicate that one is doing better than the other because of the way it reads or sound, its spelling, etc.

A couple of years ago, someone suggested that I create a wine site and I went ahead and purchased a few domain names. I came up with what I thought would be an original idea and that was to target California wines and “personalize” these domain names.

I first got obvious names that were available, including http://www.mycaliforniawinery.com and http://www.buy-california-wine.com (yes, at the time the “-“ was still working).  However, I was not satisfied and created these personalized domain names that included the concept of “my corner” (domains names became mycaliforniawinecorner.com, myredwinecorner.com, mychardonnaycorner.com, etc.). I must have spent $80 as I tried to corner all wine types (cabernetcorner.com, sauvigoncorner.com, etc.), but by the end of the first year, nothing came of it and I had to abandon most of them. Sure it was a loss of $80, but it could have worked and it did for another concept that involved travel destinations. What I learned with the wine Web sites allowed me to do something that is generating revenues today.

In conclusion, I encourage people to play with domain names and experiment.  You may have five or even 10 misses, but it only takes one to more than pay for all the other ones.

Finally, keep in mind that if you want to brand a name, what I describe above, with many domain names exploiting one area of business, will not work. This approach is ideally suited for what is known as “mini sites” or what I call “Web site clusters” to try to catch as much traffic as possible using very targeted areas of a vertical.

Similar results may be achieved using sub-domains. For example, if you are using a domain name called “mydomain.com” with the URL “www.mydomain.com,” a sub-domain would read something like “product1.mydomain.com” or “service1.mydomain.com,” etc. This approach is not very SEO friendly but it is not terribly important, in my opinion, since natural searches have become so competitive today.

A good example for using a sub-domain is when you are trying to target geographic areas. For example, assuming that I would want to offer my services to potential clients in Chicago, I could create a sub-domain called chicago.jtouboul.com and create a completely customized page for that market. The difference between this and creating a Chicago folder within your Web site (for example http://www.jtouboul.com/chicago/) is that the sub domain becomes a domain within your main domain and is a top-level page, as opposed to including files one level down, and it has its advantages.

However, don’t worry about these details for now, since there are many options, and I suggest that you keep it simple. At a minimum, secure a few domains that you think will work for you.

You can also read the entire document “Plan Your Internet Success” on my web site at jtouboul.com

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