Selecting an Internet domain name for your business or product should be an integral part of naming the business or product itself. Compelling domain names (with an appropriate TLD) are becoming increasingly more difficult to come up with because domain names are being registered at such a colossal rate. Whether you have an established business or you are looking to start a new business, there are different aspects to consider as you dive into the process of selecting a domain name.
Choosing a domain name for your business or product is a complex exercise because there are many things to consider: the specific purpose of your Web site, the demographics of your intended audience, the appropriate top-level domain(s) (TLD), geographical location, language of your target audience, and visitor sensibilities. One thing quantitative research cannot measure is the emotional connection (or lack of) a brand has with its users. It takes great care to find the correct balance between all the parts of the whole to provide a complete brand experience to site visitors and customers. The choice to make upfront is to either choose a domain name with a specific keyword that lends to search engine optimization (SEO) value because a key part of your business growth strategy is to drive online traffic to your website, or to choose a generic brand name and take on the marketing challenges.
Clearly, being in the position of needing both a domain name and a company name is the best position to be in because you have more flexibility. The overall takeaway is to make sure that you purchase a domain name that matches your company name, and that the domain name has an ideal extension such as .com before you make a commitment. A way of targeting a geographic location without compromising the extension is to target within the keyword part of the domain itself. For example, a dentist based out of Tulsa could use CosmeticDentistryTulsa.com. These domains do extremely well in regards to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but aren’t very popular as brands, even though they are generic in value.
Corporations typically prefer CompanyName.com as the main site, with additional brands having their own site to reflect specific targeted marketing, messaging, etc. For example, General Motors uses GM.COM as its corporate site, yet they have various brand sites such as Chevrolet.com, Cadillac.com, GMC.com and Buick.com.
Service sites like Yahoo, Google and Skype use a central domain name for all global web traffic.However, they use country specific extensions to allow for localization of services. For example, Google uses Google.co.uk, Google.de, Google.fr, Google.ca, Google.co.in, Google.cn for United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada, India and China respectively.
So How Do You Choose the Right Domain Name?
There are two key elements that need to work together in order to choose the correct domain name: the keyword and the extension. These need to be considered along with acquisition costs and the marketing budget.
1. Keyword Selection: When you’re promoting a product or a service, the best way to proceed is to choose a related generic keyword or keyword set. Think about the top 5 keywords or terms that come to mind that best describe your company or product. Once you’ve developed that list, you can pair the keywords or add prefixes to see what stands out. Other things to keep in mind are to pick keywords that are easy to remember and easy to type.
For example, if I wanted to target Chinese acupuncture services in Seattle, I want to hone in words like healing, medical, and northwest. I might consider:
If I sold handmade scarves and hats made out of specific yarn (in this case, alpaca wool), I want to hone in on what makes the scarf unique in addition to the word scarves. Words like alpaca and handmade will be heavily considered. Domain names that might work well here are:
If the company is to create a very unique identity, a made up word can be used instead of a keyword. Specifically, this is an option to consider when a .com is absolutely necessary but a keyword won’t fit in the budget. The marketing budget required to achieve brand recall for such domain names can be substantial unless the service itself allows the marketing to go viral. You can also consider leveraging a generic keyword in a cheaper extension to ensure it fits the marketing budget. This is a popular strategy used by developers on limited budgets who do not wish to compromise with the quality of the keywords.
Haribo (www.haribo.com), the German confectionary producer, developed its company name by combining the name of the company founder and the German home town of the company: Hans Riegel, Bonn.
2. Extension Selection: If you’re looking for a global audience, the best option is a .com domain. A non profit could possibly use a .org. However, if you’re only looking at targeting a specific geographic area, a local extension might be a more appealing and cheaper alternative. Certain extensions lend themselves to great brand value irrespective of their country of origin, by the fact that they are common English words or phrases. Hence a .tv could be used for a video heavy site, a .me for a personal site and a .in for branding as international, interactive or Internet, irrespective of the geographic location.
Note of Caution: Regardless of your choice, remember that once you select a domain name, check to see if it’s too similar with competing domain names, and also check that it’s not in violation of someone else’s trademark by visiting the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.
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