How to Pick a Domain Name for Your Local Business
We’re in the business of helping our clients set up shop online. A new product we’re releasing in the coming week is one we hope will allow small local businesses to create sites optimized for local search, complete with analytics and monthly reporting. It’s our vision of the total package a local business needs to create a competitive, search and social friendly online presence with the expertise and infrastructure we’re in a unique position to offer.
But there’s one critical element of a website we can’t provide: your domain name. We can, however, offer guidelines and recommendations for how to pick a domain name that supports your brand and goals as a community business.
Brand or keywords? How do your customers remember you? Are you well recognized in your community by name? Is there a person in the community everyone knows as the heart and soul of the company? Think of what you’re recognized for. Next-day service? Low price leader? Old man Higgins’ dressing up as Santa for the annual community Christmas party? Brainstorm a bit about your reputation in the community and what makes you stand out. Then riff off those ideas for names. You don’t want to be so specific that you paint yourself into a corner that prohibits growth and expansion of the business, but you do want to leverage what draws customers to you.
Keep it simple. Think all the good names are gone? If you invent something new, it can be hard to find a catchy name that speaks to the product or service. Inventors and entrepreneurs today are challenged by creating new words and phrases that are unique but not too outlandish. It’s a delicate balance. Watch any infomercials and you’re sure to have come across a few head scratchers. Ask me, ShamWow got lucky.
Think about this a moment. Glasses ─ what an elegant name for those critical spectacles so common today. Unfortunately it can be a lot harder to coin a word or phrase today. But can you repurpose a word to your business? Microsoft did it with Windows and then became the most ubiquitous operating system in the world.
Alternate extensions? ICANN has opened up the option of custom top level domains. While it sounds cool, it’s totally impractical for most businesses and could even be harmful for a local business. It costs too much and it’s potentially confusing. Stick with trusty .com.
Did you know that the very first .com registered was Symbolics.com? My go to source for awesomeness on the Internet is Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 because they point out fun facts like this:
At this point, every domain was available. Every single one. They could have had any name they wanted.
In retrospect, this is kind of like being the first one out to the California Gold Rush and coming back with a bag full of silver. Or having the number one pick in the NFL Draft and taking JaMarcus Russell.
Here are some domain names I would have suggested registering instead: Anything. Anything other than Symbolics.com would have been a good choice. Any two letter combination. Any three letter combination.
Even any real word used in the English language would have made more sense than “symbolics.” [...]
So March 15th might actually also double as the 25th anniversary of the first Internet FAIL.
You can certainly be clever, but not so clever you lose the value of keywords, branding and recognition. Choose a descriptive or brand-focused domain name that’s easy to remember, unlikely to be misspelled, and is short and simple. It’s the first step in your development of a domain name that supports your local business goals and community standing.