Tips for Buying Domain Names

Posted by on Sep 4, 2011 in Internet Tools and Services | Comments Off

Tips for Buying Domain Names

A domain name is your address on the web similar to the street address of your house. Just as you can live wherever you want, you can register any domain name you want provided the name is not being used by someone else. There are no hard and fast rules to choosing a domain name. For maximum effectiveness, though, I do recommend keeping these tips in mind when buying one.

Your Domain Name = Your Website Name

Making your domain name the same as your website name may seem like the obvious thing to do but there are numerous websites out there whose domain name does not resemble their website name in the least. Usually this is due to poor planning but sometimes the mismatch is because the original domain name the buyer wanted is already taken.

In these cases, they will get another name but still use the business name they wanted. This is when you get a business named Pizza Place who registers threepizzasforabuck.com. The problem with doing this is when people think of your business name “Pizza Place” they are first going to think pizzaplace.com. You will lose your customers to the person who owns that URL.

To avoid this, get the domain name first and then name your website. If you’re really want to use the website name you have chosen but the domain name is taken, you can try to purchase it from the holder. Be aware, though, that you will be paying an obnoxiously inflated price.

Case in point, I wanted to call my website for fiction writers ‘Writers Talk’ when I first started it. However, the .com version was already registered. I decided to email the owner to see how much he would sell it for. I figured if the price was reasonable then I would buy it. Guess how much he wanted for it? $600. Needless to say I registered something else.

Longer Names vs. Short Names

The internet is a competitive place with everyone and their grandma vying for virtual real estate. This is my clever way of saying all the really good domain names are probably taken so you’ll need to be creative when registering your name. The only requirements for registering a .com domain name is it must have a minimum of three and no more than 63 alphanumeric characters. Hyphens are the only symbols permitted.

Personally, I think your domain name should be as short as possible. Shorter names are easier to remember and visitors are less likely to make typographical erros. But work with what is available to you.

Plurals and Hyphens and Prefixes, Oh My!

I don’t like hyphenated names because they create confusion where simplicity should rule. If you really want a hyphenated name, the best way to handle is like Text Link Ads. They own both the hyphenated (Text-Link-Ads) and unhyphenated (TextLinkAds) versions of their name and redirect the unhyphenated version to the hyphenated one.

Using prefixes such as ‘the’, ‘a’, and ‘my’ (as in thewebsite.com) are not bad. You need to remember to tell people to type in those exact words when looking up your site otherwise they could end up at a competitor’s site.

Plurals (such as websites.com) are not such a good idea unless you also own the non-plural version and can redirect people or it is a distinctive plural word (e.g. foxes vs. fox). Again we want to avoid confusion. It is likely people will forget the ‘s’ and end up lost on the internet.

TLD Extensions

TLD stands for Top Level Domain. It is the extension at the end of the domain name (.com, .net). These extensions have a meaning. The .com stands for commercial and signifies that a website is a commercial site. .Net stands for network and is supposed to be used for computer networking serves like web hosting. Click here for a full list of TLDs and their meanings.

Sometimes a domain name will not be available in one extension but will be in others. For example, one domain name I wanted was not available with the .com extension but it was available in the .net extension. I went ahead and registered the .net because the .com extension wasn’t actively being used. It was being forwarded to another website. However, if the .com version did contain an active website I would have chosen something different.

If the domain name you want is being actively used, I recommend registering a different name. The problem you run into when you use an already registered name is confusion. Additionally, the default TLD in the public mind is .com. You will inadvertently send traffic to the person who owns the .com because people will assume your domain name ends in this TLD.

Should you register all the TLDs of your domain name? This is a hard question to answer. On the one hand, it is expensive to do this and you won’t be able to get some TLDs because of qualification requirements. On the other, you don’t want your brand becoming diluted by other people registering and using the same name.

In the end it comes down to personal preference. When I register a domain name I get both the .com and the .net TLD because these are the most recognized. If you have a unique name, you can prevent other people from using it by registering it as a trademark. For more information about this, consult an attorney knowledgeable about intellectual property.

Buying the Domain Name

You can purchase domain names with any domain registrar. The main things you want to look for in a domain registrar is reliability, trustworthiness, and good support. Your domain name is an integral part of your business and you don’t want to leave it in the hands of a registrar who does shady things.

Personally, I recommend Namecheap. They have great pricing and their customer service is awesome. They even have monthly coupons you can use for a discount off the cost of new registrations. Click here to register cheap domain names at Namecheap.com and get your business started.

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