Z of Domain Name Selection
Selecting a domain name, or web address,
is the most important task you will
undertake when moving your business
online. Here's an A to Z guide, to help you choose the right
domain name for your website.
(Note: the wonderful A to Z Domain Name Selection was written by
Lee Hodgson at the
beginning of the web site explosion, and it is as accurate today
as when it was written.
is for Acronyms
If you have
a company name that is long or just plain difficult to spell,
should you still use it as your domain name? Probably not. A
better idea is to use an acronym. They are becoming so popular
that go-ahead companies are even renaming themselves so they
can use a snappy acronym for their web site, proof of the power
of the web if ever proof was still needed. For example, Anderson
Consulting™ have renamed themselves to just AC, and their
domain name is ac.com. Intelligent Finance™ are if.com
and Major League Baseball™ are mlb.com.
Due to their
popularity and obvious scarcity, two and three letter dot com
acronyms are getting very expensive, but many four letter acronyms
are still available for nothing more than the registration fee.
B is for Benefits
for example that you are setting up a site to sell holidays
to Thailand. Obvious choices for names might be VisitThailand.com
or DestinationThailand.com. Both are reasonable
enough, but they don't offer the user any tangible benefit,
or reason why they should be buying the product.
better name is ExoticThailand.com. The beauty of this
benefit-based name is that you are offering the user something
tangible, an exotic experience. The sales process has begun
right in the domain name itself, and you are half way towards
capturing the sale.
C is for Characters
characters that a domain name can contain are letters, numbers,
and hyphens. Spaces and other special characters are not allowed.
Domain names are not case-sensitive, so BestBuys.com
and bestbuys.com are the same name, and can never point
to different sites.
hyphens are allowed in domains, there is a golden rule to follow
here: It's OK to register a name with hyphens in, but only if
you also register the hyphen-free version.
is simple. Most customers will remember a name that they have
seen advertised on TV or in a magazine, but forget whether or
not it contained hyphens. So if your site is called Tasty-Cakes.com,
a typical web user recalling the name from memory will just
type TastyCakes.com into their browser. If you haven't
registered the hyphen-free version, you will be losing a large
percentage of customers. And if a competitor is devious enough
to have registered the hyphen-free version (and they often are)
you will be spending advertising dollars sending your customers
to a competitor's site. Enough said.
D is for Dot
names are the gold standard on the Internet. Millions of advertising
dollars have already been spent persuading customers that Dot
com names are the only names worth having. The latest web
browsers will even default to Dot com if no extension
is specified. Always register the Dot com version
of your name, even if you choose to register others.
E is for Extensions
about other extensions? Dot net, Dot org, Dot
cc, Dot tv, Dot co.uk etc. etc. Which ones
should you register? Our advice is to try to register at least
the Dot net version of your name, possibly the Dot
org as well.
And if you
are a company operating outside the United States, you should
definitely register your country-specific domain. For
example, in the UK, you would register the Dot co.uk
several domain name extensions, you are preventing name space
dilution. If you owned a site called TastyCakes.com,
and a competitor registered TastyCakes.co.uk, TastyCakes.net
etc. many of your customers would end up visiting your competitor's
site by mistake.
F is for Free Domains
will try to persuade you that you don't actually need your own
domain name, and you can get away with renting a free sub-directory
of their name. So, for example, if your business is based around
silk products, you could easily get a free domain such as FreeWebSites.com/PureSilk/
several compelling reasons why you should not accept such a
using a free service, you will make a bad first impression
with your customers, and transmit the message that your
website isn't important enough to have its own name.
names are inevitably going to be longer, and hence more
difficult to remember than real ones.
visiting your free site will be subjected to pop-up boxes
containing advertisements and other rubbish.
engines are starting to give higher priority to sites which
have their own domain names. Some will even refuse to
list sites which don't have their own domains.
free domain is probably the
worst mistake that you can
make when setting up your business online. Don't do it.
G is for Generic
can get hold of a generic domain name for your business, you
have a great marketing edge. Generic names are easy
to remember, but their killer advantage is that they produce
a regular flow of potential customers to your site without
you having to spend a dollar on marketing.
case illustrates the point beautifully. The publishers of a
computer game starring Brazilian soccer start Ronaldo have offered
150,000 US Dollars to the owner of the name Ronaldo.com.
The publisher was quoted as saying “Anyone searching for
information on Ronaldo, whether it is about the forthcoming
PlayStation game or any other related merchandise, is automatically
going to www.ronaldo.com. If we don't secure the
name in the next two weeks, we are going to have to spend
considerably more on Internet advertising than we would
have if we had owned www.ronaldo.com.
names need not be limited to single words. Many people interested
in the Thai language for example will try typing ThaiLanguage.com
into their browser before resorting to the search engine lottery.
To summarize: generic name = free customers.
H is for Hosting
domain name without web space is like having an address without
a home. This is what hosting is all about, where your name is
parked at a server computer on the Internet, so that
other Internet users can access your website.
it's possible to register a domain well before you have a website
ready or found a computer to host it on. You are reserving the
name for future use. This is a great benefit, as it means you
when you think of it, not when you have found
a server to host the site on.
I is for Identity
domain name is your identity in the new digital economy.
Be very careful to pick the right domain names for your
business before going online. Being forced to find a
new identity after launch is a very time-consuming and costly
J is for Just A
get contacted by parties who say things like “Just a minute,
we've been trading successfully for the last year under the
name 4MikesWindows.net. What you're doing is a scam.”
is that a poor choice of name will always reduce the number
of visitors (and hence customers) to your website. Sure,
you can still run a successful online business with a lousy
name, but your business will always do better with a good name.
And what happens when a competitor comes along with a much better
K is for KISS
it Simple, Stupid". Use easy to spell words. Use
easy to pronounce words. Limit names to two words
if possible, three words as an absolute maximum. Remember the
idea is to create domain names people can easily remember
and just as easily type into their browser.
L is for Length
can now be up to sixty seven characters in length, but we would
never advise you to register a name anywhere near that. The
golden rule of selecting a good name is short is sweet.
Would you like to type a sixty seven character domain string
into a browser? No, and neither does anybody else.
M is for Multiple
English language words are spelt differently around the English-speaking
world. For instance, Jewelry (US) Vs Jewellery (UK). If you
have an international business, make sure you register all
of the different spellings.
N is for Now!
your preferred names
Otherwise someone else will.
O is for Offline
that your primary domain name will be used extensively offline
as well as online. It will appear on your company letterhead,
business cards, advertisements in newspapers, magazines, radio
and TV. Your goal should be to familiarize all your existing
customers with your domain, and plant the name in the minds
of new customers. Now are you getting the idea of the importance
of domain names really are?
P is for Purchase
of domain names already registered are not in fact owned by
parties looking to develop a web site, but by entrepreneurs
hoping to sell the name on for a profit.
are domain name auction sites where hundreds of thousands of
listed for sale by resellers, eager to turn a quick
profit. So should you be prepared to buy a name rather than
register a new one? In principle, yes. The domain name aftermarket
is now a huge legitimate business, which is growing incredibly
quickly. But whether you choose to go that route will depend
on many things:
the name available for sale significantly better than a
name that is still unregistered?
much would the domain name cost to buy from a reseller?
quickly do you need the name? If you are inexperienced in
purchasing domain names, the process can drag on for two
months or longer.
But in principle,
if a great name is available from a reseller at a reasonable
price, the extra traffic it will generate will quickly repay
the initial investment. And don't be put off by the headline
sale prices, such as the $7.5 million paid for Business.com.
Most names can be had for well under a thousand US dollars.
Q is for Questions
If you have
any questions for us, please email
R is for Registration
registration is the process whereby you pay a fee in order
to reserve a name for current or future use. Each country
has its own registration process and fee structures vary accordingly,
but you can expect to register a name for $70 or less for a
S is for Search
developers have started registering names containing keywords
relevant to their site. So, for example a site selling cars
might register a name like Cars-For-Sale-Car-Dealer-Buy-Car.com.
They do so in the belief that it will boost their
search engine rankings. However, there is little or no
evidence to support this assertion. Our advice is to save
that definitely is true about most search engines is that they
list domain names in lower case, whether you submitted
them in lower, upper, or mixed case. So BeDaring.com
would turn into bedaring.com when viewed as output from
a search engine. Please be careful :)
T is for Trademarks
are a very complex legal entity, but they are also a very important
mechanism for protecting your identity online, so do not
hesitate to secure your trademark.
U is for URL
sometimes ask you “What's your URL?”. URL is an acronym
for Universal Resource Locator, but is often used interchangeably
with domain name, Internet address, or web
V is for Voice Recognition
in parts of Japan, more people are surfing the web on their
mobile phones than from conventional PCs. Voice recognition
technology has now come of age, and will be used to power
many of the next generation browsers. So use easily pronounced
words for your name, don't use misspellings or hyphens.
If your website is called 2B-TheBest.com, don't expect
any visitors from voice -powered web surfers.
W is for World Wide
the names you select will have global visibility, so use
words which people can relate to globally. BobsAutoMall.com
might go down well in the States, but would be virtually meaningless
to UK citizens.
X is for X-Rated
domain contains offensive words, don't be surprised if you end
up in deep water, especially if your website is aimed at a general
audience. Play it safe, and avoid domain names which are 'too'
Y is for Yet To
Internet is changing at lightning speed. Yesterday's news seems
like old news, and domain names are no exception.
Z is for ZZZX.com
- a rarely visited web site.
lists site in
alphabetical order in its directory, so
poor old ZZZX.com will not get many visitors from the
most popular search engines on the Web.
Author: Lee Hodgson