When you type “555 Cedar Lane, Los Angeles, CA” into your smartphone’s GPS navigation, it precisely guides you there. The address includes a number, street, city, and state; you don’t need to remember a complicated series of GPS coordinates for every address you visit. In a similar way, your domain name is a simple yet specific online address.
What is a Domain?
The domain is an integral part of your branding strategy. It’s the main, memorable part of your URL (complete web address), and it directs visitors to the appropriate server.
How do I Select a Domain?
First, think about what domain may work best for your business. The best names meet these requirements:
- A domain name should contain 10 characters or less. This makes it more likely that potential clients can clearly understand your web address over podcast or radio ads.
- Use your full business name with one keyword to heighten your site’s SEO (search engine optimization) rankings.
- Successful addresses are memorable! Dashes overly complicate addresses.
Next, check that your desired name is available. Check at WhoIs.
You’ll also want to choose a name that has matching handles for social media sites (like Instagram and Facebook) so your branding remains easy to remember and cohesive. You can use a site like Name Checkr to perform a fast search of handles on social media platforms.
What are TLDs?
Did you know that your website presence is impacted by the last three letters of your website’s address? The extensions .com and .org are known as TLDs (top-level domains). These TLDs are the most common and easy to remember. .com is typically used for businesses, while .org for non-profit organizations. Due to the sheer volume of websites created, and therefore domains needed, your desired domain may not be available, and you may need to consider using other TLDs like .biz or .net.
Some TLDs are more specific. They may be focused on a particular type of site (.blog), or government agency (.gov), or even geography (.us for the United States). Therefore, not all TLDs may be relevant, or even available, to your business.
What are Subdomains?
What if you plan to have an extensive site full of content including a vlog, events page, info about numerous services, and an online store. How can all of these sections be well organized within one domain? WPBeginner explains that, “Subdomains are created to organize and navigate to different sections of your website… For example: store.yourwebsite.com. In this example, ‘store’ is the subdomain, ‘yourwebsite’ is the primary domain and ‘.com’ is the TLD. You can use any text as your subdomain, but you want to make sure it’s easy to type and remember.”
Subdomains can insert keywords into your site address, giving it an edge in SEO rankings. This will help cement your authority in your niche.
Register Your Domain
Now, it’s time to register your site with a registrar. There are many options available. You can enter “domain registrar” in a search engine to view. Fortunately, once you’ve purchased your domain, its subdomains are included free and there is no need to register those.
Another tip: check with your website developer — some hosting providers include free domain registration with their plans.
Domain Expiration Dates
When you register your domain name, it is valid for the period of time you paid for. Add the expiration date to your calendar and ensure that the email address you used at registration stays valid. You should receive a warning email when the expiration date is near. If it expires, the competition (or meddling online squatters) could buy your name and ransom it. If you refuse to pay, you may have to change all your branding because it includes your web address. This wastes your time and money and confuses your clients.
WARNING: There are some unscrupulous companies out there that send unsuspected registrants invoices that they make it appear that they are your domain registrant when they want. They typically charge 10x or more beyond the usual cost for renewal. Be sure you check that you are paying the business that is actually your domain registrar.
Setting up your online presence may leave you feeling lost. But keep in mind: a good domain name is similar to an easy-to-remember physical address. If you want help selecting and registering your name, partner with UmeWorks to design and build your website. We can guide you through and manage the registration process.