Choosing A Domain Name
There are two different approaches to choosing a domain name (your www address):
- Use your existing business name (branding)
- Using words that can get you found easily through an online search by a potential customer
This can be somewhat confusing if you are new to this and I do not want to overwhelm you with too much information. There is no right or wrong way, just several ways each with their own advantages.
Do not spend too much time stressing over this, you can always find another name later, at around $10 per year – it is not the end of the world if you find you want a different name – you can simply point your existing site at your new domain later – and don’t worry about that either.
Using Your Existing Business Name (Your Business Brand)
Think of ToysRus (www.toysrus.com) or Google (www.google.com) or Argos (www.argos.co.uk or MacDonalds (www.macdonalds.com), they do not really give any clue as to what they sell or give any information about themselves. Well, okay, maybe ToysRus does, but you can surely see the point, these companies have marketed themselves to grow to the point of being household names, they don’t need to have burger or anything specific in their name!
I know we have not all grown our businesses to be the size of Google yet, but there are many ways to market yourself both online and offline.
What about when we are out and about and we really want a haircut from our favourite hairdressers, we search for the salon name and it doesn’t show up in a search (I use this example because I have done it myself), how can it not show up? Don’t they have a website or a listing in a directory? Anything?
Using words that can get you found easily through an online search by a potential customer
Bearing in mind as I mentioned before, most people search for products and services online using search engines like Google.
This means that they are typing ‘search terms’ into Google. These search terms are also referred to as ‘keywords’ do not be intimidated or bewildered in any way it just means what people are searching for – like for instance “tyre repairs Birmingham”.
Google and the other search engines sift through the many millions of websites online to try and find the results that are most relevant to the keywords the user has typed into the search box.
For this reason we need to optimise our website with the best keywords we can find to help us rank highly in the search results – the higher we rank – the more traffic (visitors) we will get.
There are many ways to help your website rank higher in the search engine results with keywords, and having a keyword or keyword phrase in your domain name can give your rankings a great boost. Don’t get too hung up on this however, if you are going after keywords that have a lot of competition, many other factors will come into play, and the effect will be much more modest.
So how do we find out what keywords people are using now to find information relating to your business? We will use the Google External Keyword Tool to help us with this.
The tool can easily be found by doing a Google search for ‘external keyword tool’.
Once we have opened the keyword tool, we type into the ‘Find keywords’ box a word or phrase that we feel is relevant to our market. In this is example I have typed in ‘hairdressers in Birmingham’ and I have used a filter for United Kingdom only.
Let’s take a closer look at the keywords I have circled above. As you can see the terms are relevant and specific to a local area, and the local monthly searches are all over 1500 per month, which is great, anything lower and we would struggle to get enough traffic.
The next step would be to go along to a domain registrar and search to see if these names are available. If the exact name is not available, you can add a prefix i.e., www.bestbirminghamhairdresser.com, or a suffix i.e., www.hairdressersbirminghamlocal.com.
If you go to godaddy.com to register your domain name, they will suggest alternatives using prefixes and suffixes for you when your choice is not available.
Keep your domain name short and easy to remember (as much as is possible)
A local domain name ending will usually outrank the .com in local search results, but a .com is always a great choice because it’s the one that people always expect it to be. So for example, if you buy the .co.uk and tell your customers or advertise on your materials www.hairdressersbirmingham.co.uk – and your customer thinks, oh ok, I’ll remember that – you can pretty much guarantee that more than 50% of these people will type www.hairdressersbirmingham.com into their internet browser. I personally usually buy both of them and just point the .com to the .co.uk, it is fine to this. Don’t get too stressed about what is the very best choice for your domain name, you can research the subject in depth later and buy another one.