When you’re ready to get your business online, one of the first challenges you’ll need to deal with is your domain. That’s why we’re writing this week to give you a solid guide to website domains. There are so many ways you can go about attaining a domain. However, your decision can make the difference between a bad online experience and an online experience that keeps bringing customers back to your site.
So before we get into the nitty-gritty of making these important decisions, let’s go over what a domain is.
What Is A Domain
A domain is the web address, or URL, of your website. It is not a website on it’s own, but it helps point your website visitors to the right place. Most often we described it as an address of where your website lives.
Although most people know domains as something like www.azumamedia.com, it’s not always going to look the same. Depending on your industry, your business, and the purpose of your website – you may have a domain that looks differently than the one above.
The .com portion of your doing is called a TLD, or a Top-Level Domain. There are also several other TLD’s such as .org, .edu, and .net. These TLD’s were most common across the Internet for a long time, but as technology grows so does our ability to personalize the web to our needs.
We’ll discuss more about TLD’s later in this post, but keep in mind that there are many options for TLD’s (although .com is still the most used).
Performing A Domain Name Search
The next step in our guide to website domains deals with searching for a domain. Before we’re ready to register our domain name, we need to make sure it’s available to use. Some businesses have common words in their name so if you tried to register a domain such as, redbarn.com, you would be met with an online pet store instead of an available domain.
If your business name is unique you probably won’t need to worry about availability, but in both cases you will want to consider a couple things.
- Is your business name too long?
- Try to use either the main part of your business name. Instead of MarysBakedGoods.com, use marysbakery.com. Another good rule to keep to as we go through this guide to website domains is keeping your domain name at three syllables or under.
- Are you using slang or different spelling in your business name?
- Make sure you make it easy for potential customers to visit your site. If you tell them your site name in passing, and it has some unique spelling, they’re not going to easily find your site. Either write it down for them or better yet, choose a domain name that’s easy to spell.
- Think about localization and your keywords
- If you’re a local business or you serve a specific “niche”, use that where you can in your domain name. You can also buy multiple versions of your domain to get the best of both worlds. For example, buying a domain like sanangelocleaning.com and yourcleaningcompany.com is ideal. By using keywords and your city in your domain, you’re helping customers find you more easily AND boosting your SEO rankings on Google.
To start your domain search, you can go to almost any popular web host (Godaddy, Dreamhost, Google, etc), but if you plan on purchasing your domain name – pick a host that allows you to keep your domain. This is so important as we move through our guide to website domains. Sites like Wix and Squarespace do not give you full rights to use your domain and they make it increasingly difficult to setup your website anywhere else.
A Quick Overview On TLD’s
Although using a different TLD isn’t required, it’s a good topic to cover in our guide to website domains. Top Level Domains, as explained above, are the various options to end your domain with. The most common TLD (still to this day) is .com, but there are different reasons why you may need a different TLD for your business website.
For example, government agencies exclusively use .gov domains, schools and colleges might use an .edu domain, and non-profit organizations would use a .org domain. Although these are some of the more known TLD’s, you can actually use other TLD’s to help your business.
For example, one of Azuma Media’s services is web design. In order to help certain design clients, we might send them to a .design domain – so they know ahead of time that this domain is related to design.
There are hundreds of other TLD’s to use for your domains, but we recommend ALWAYS using a .com domain first. Then add on additional domains with new TLD’s as they’re needed. If you want two different domains, but only want them to go to one website, you can actually make the second domain automatically redirect to your website.
This is kind of confusing, but remember that domains are like addresses. There can be multiple ways to get to one place. If you’d like to learn more about TLD’s and how to use them, there’s a more in-depth article that talks about TLD’s and how to use them here.
Registering Your Domain Name
So you’ve picked your domain name and made sure it was available. Now you’re ready to lock it in and finish registering! This part in our guide to website domains is relatively easy, but I want to make sure you’re aware of some pricing information, registration policies, and more.
When you’re ready to register, you’ll often see a price next to the domain you chose (make sure it’s a .com domain if you’re not a non-profit or educational organization). Prices can change depending on the domain host you’re buying from, so if you’re seeing a domain for $11.00 or $18.00, make sure you check around.
Domain hosts can mark up domain prices so they make more off of the sale. You’ll also be responsible to pay either that price, or the price listed right below it (often in small letters) every year, two years, and so on. That’s another reason why we recommend getting your domain either from Godaddy (domains as low as $0.99) or if you work with an agency that designs websites, they’ll often include the domain name in their service.
Another crucial thing to remember is check the domain policy of the host you’re buying from (if it’s not Godaddy, Google, Bluehost, etc). Website builders like Wix and Squarespace keeps your website files and owns your domain, so if you plan on expanding in the future or using an agency, you (or they) will have to build your website and buy a new domain from scratch.
When you’ve clicked buy now or add to cart, it will ask you to start filling out your information. An key thing to remember as we go through our guide to website domains is to keep your information safe.
We recommend using your business name, address, and information during this part. Also, it’s important to decide whether you will use Domain Privacy or not. Domain Privacy basically keeps your information safe from spam and scammers across the web. Although this is an optional add-on, it can help prevent those scam calls and emails that we all hate so much.
If you don’t plan on paying the extra $9.99 to hide your personal info (Domain Privacy), then anyone will be able to see the basic contact info and address you put in. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you have your personal home address and cell phone number on there, you may get unwanted spam and scammer calls, emails, and mail to your home that you don’t want.
If you do opt to pay for the Domain Privacy option then it won’t matter about the information you put in. No one will be able to see your information, personal or business. Your domain host will be listed and provide a “masked” email address for people to message.
You’ve Completed Our Guide To Website Domains: So What Now?
You’ve completed the first step to getting a website for your business! A domain is not a website, but you cannot have a website without a domain (kind of a brain twister). Once you’ve purchased your domain, you’ll still need to find and setup your web hosting provider and decide how you want to build your website.
This is Part One of our Beginner’s Guide To Building A Website series, so if you’re thinking about building your own – stay tuned for next week! Although building a website can be done on your own, it’s important to think about how you want your website to look and perform.
Anyone can bake a cake, but if you’re baking a multi-tiered, filigree-piped cake for your upcoming wedding – you would hire a professional to take on the challenge. Similar to that scenario, there’s a lot that goes into creating a website. When you’re also wearing multiple other hats in your business (accountant, sales, product specialist, etc), you don’t want to spend all of your time learning why you need an Secure Socket Layer Certificate and how to build a mobile response website.
Azuma Media makes it easy to get the website you need, without all of the stress and complicated jargon. Give us a call if you need a professional to help your business look great online.