How to Select a Domain
Top Level Domain (TLD)
The value of your domain name will be based almost entirely on the strength of your Top Level Domain (TLD) or domain extension (.com; .net; .org), however, not every TLD will suit every term, nor will it suit every market. So when selecting one it is important that you select the right one for you.
For example, if you are running a commercial site you may want to select a domain with the extension '.com'. Through the years, people have come to instantly associate this TLD with all things Internet-related, therefore this extension will posses less of a risk for you and your company. An added bonus to the '.com' TLD is that it can be used worldwide. This is particularly useful for countries that have particularly strict guidelines for the provision of country TLDs such as Norway, which has a country TLD of '.no'.
Shorter is Better
When selecting a domain, research shows that names comprised of 2-7 letters are the easiest for users to remember and therefore will be the most valuable to your company. Domains that are more than 10 letters are worth are valued slightly less, and for anything longer than that the value falls incrementally.
There are two ways to approach linguistic issues. The first is to go for the obvious industry connection. For example, if you run a search engine marketing company focused only in pay-per click advertising, you might try to obtain the domain 'www.ppc.com', as it would be logical to assume your URL would be instantly recognizable to those in the technology and internet business. However, if you were targeting those unfamiliar with the market the acronym may be foreign to them and they would not know what you do. The second alternative is to choose something that can be used for branding purposes, for example, your company's name. Both options are valid.
Branding & Advertising
Ideally, your domain is identical to your company name. For Internet-based businesses this will establish your brand and ease the user's task of having to locate you online. For established companies, users will often assume your URL will be the same as your company name and put it straight into their address bar. If typing your name doesn't bring your company up, or even worse, brings someone else's company up, this is a problem for your internet marketing efforts. You may have already lost their business, and if not, research says they are now starting to question your status.
When selecting a domain name it is important to keep human error in mind. Research says the two main reasons for traffic diversions are users mistyping your URL and users who use the wrong extension. A customer looking to find you at ppc.com may accidentally type in the wrong URL and find themselves at payperclick.com not even realizing they have reached the wrong site. To help combat these issues, companies should stick with short, easy to remember URLs that have a TLD appropriate for their market. Another thing you may want to do is to establish a monopoly among certain keyword-based domains to avoid possible customer confusion. This involves buying out all possible spelling and word-choice combinations. Seems excessive but it sure does do the trick.
Always research the status of a domain before purchasing. Certain domains that include trademarked or bizarre coined terms may have pending legal matters attached to them. You do not want to involve your company in their legal mess - often these domains have a low value and are not worth the hassle. Generic names work better for URLs because trademark issues are far less common, and if there is an issue, it will be less restrictive. Unless you happen to be the one to own the trademark, in which case, capitalize on that.
When possible, always select a domain that can be accessed by International sites, as this will significantly boost your company's value. The TLD '.com' has established itself throughout the world as an Internet symbol and can be a great benefit to your company. If you are positioned in a local industry, the .com TLD still has merit due to this worldwide branding, particularly in the United States. In other countries, the country code TLD is often recognized and sought after.
Search Engine Optimization Considerations
Some search engines appear to give preference to domains that contain a frequently used search terms. For example, if you type "ppc" in the Google search box, you will find that several of the top results will have the term "ppc" in their URL. Putting frequently used keywords in your URL may significantly increase your traffic and capture a greater portion of your target market.
However, it should be noted that it is not necessary to keyword stuff your URLs to increase your domain's search engine optimization value. Google Engineer Matt Cutts has noted before that domain names such as buy-my-cheap-pills-and-gamble-online.com are likely to be considered spam. Even though keywords in the URL may give some SEO boost, this should merely be factored into your decision, not rule it.
Selling your domain
There may come a time when you decide (or need) to sell your domain. This can be a daunting task to the uninformed. Here are five ways to increase your chances of a sale:
- Select key markets — Don't place your domain on a market that appears dormant or not industry-related. Make sure it is listed where actual purchases and sales are taking place. Domains should be marketed in places where that name is actively being advertised, either through a press release, banner ads, etc.
- Careful placement — Make sure you position your domain where you will be able to find it again! Be very careful to select the appropriate category and always set a fixed price.
- Set realistic prices — And make sure that price is reflective of the market. Setting exaggerated prices will do nothing but deter potential buyers, so make sure to base your price on its estimated value.
- Advertise — Research shows that advertised domains sell exorbitantly faster than those that do not. Advertise.
- Respond to all offers — Ignoring initial offers because they haven't matched your asking price is not a sound business move. Always respond to offers; it will give you an opportunity for haggling! After all, a person who makes an original offer will often make a counter-offer.
You will also need to consider the domain's potential for online commerce. How fast is your field going? How is your field taking to Internet marketing? If your company specializes in house repair it is unlikely that you will be seeking a large amount of your business via the Internet or search engine marketing. Therefore domains suited for such a field would have a low value. Meanwhile, a domain suited for company specializing in Search Engine Optimization, a field identifiable with the ecommerce industry, would be considerably more valuable and would sell for a much higher price.
Review Domain Sales
To determine what your domain is worth you should research past domain sales, targeting categories related to your own. A related domain could be one that has a similar extension, number of words or comparable potential as your company. Seeing what these domains have sold for will give you an idea of the approximate value.