Every business today needs to have a website, even though you may be starting a brick & mortar business.
Your website simply is your “space” on the World Wide Web (www). Your website and its name represents your business and lets visitors know what products and services you offer.
Even though daunting at first, building your website is much cheaper in the long run than taking out a print ad or running newspaper advertising. For one thing, once your website has been designed and created – that’s it.
Yes, you’ll want to keep your site up to date, but that doesn’t’ have to be expensive, particularly if you use WordPress as your platform.
The first thing to decide is the name (domain name) for your website. Picking a good name is very important for your success and to get found on the web.
Just in case you’re wondering why this is such a big deal and you’re thinking, “If it doesn’t work I’ll just change it”…
True, nothing is written in stone and while you can change it later, you may not want to.
And here is why.
Like I said before, your website is your business on the web. And just like a brick and mortar business has a name and address your customers use to find you, online visitors use your web address to find you on the web. Now, if you change the web address for your business you potentially could lose customers and followers.
Don’t get me wrong, you can change your domain name – it just tends to be a hassle that’s avoidable.
I think it’s easy to see that every time you change the name of your business and you move the business to a new location, you will lose customers. And it’s the same with an online business, your website.
Your website lives at a certain location (similar to a brick and mortar business). Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but we’re going for concepts here…!
When you publish content to your website it becomes part of the “location”. Let’s say you’ve just published an article titled “How to grow fabulous Orchids” to your site.
People searching the web for information about growing orchids may come across your article via different routes.
- They either access the article from within your site; no problem, they can find the information.
- Or they enter search terms and Google (or another search engine) brings up the result “yourwebsite.com/how-to-grow-fabulous-orchids/” and displays the article page directly, without going through the site first.
So every time you change the name of the site the article location/address changes as well.
Can you see how this could cause problems?
While it’s possible to change everything at any given time and there are ways to redirect to new sites and addresses, it’s just simpler if you don’t have to.
So how do I pick a solid domain name so I don’t have to change it later?
When choosing a domain you need to come up with 2 components, the actual name and the extension. The extension is the last part of the domain, most commonly they are .com, .org, .net or .info.
If the .com extension is available, go with that because it’s the default URL (universal resource locator) most people remember. However, if .com is not available, just go with one of the other extensions listed above.
The extension also depends on what type of site it is. If it’s a store, try to stick with the .com, but if it’s a non-profit, going with the .org is usually better.
For the actual domain name, choose one that best represents your site. If your site is about flowers, than choose a name that indicates that. You’ll see this referred to as choosing keyword based domain names.
For example, let’s say your site is about growing Bonsai trees. Wouldn’t it be better to choose a name containing the phrase “bonsai trees” rather than just the phrase “Trees”?
In essence you can go two different ways with choosing a name. You can follow the safe route and choose a keyword based domain name or go with something catchy you think might take off all across the web (think Face book, Google, or Twitter).
Most people prefer to go with a keyword based domain name. You want your website to rank well for your chosen subject and keywords are the prime way you’ll achieve that goal. You can use a free or paid keyword tool to make a list of the top keywords in your niche.
Think of keywords like this…
Back in the days of yellow page advertising, if you needed to find a car wash you would open the book under car wash or automobile, right? Keywords are very similar in that they allow “searchers” to enter a key phrase associated with the information they are looking for. I hope that makes sense?
Once you picked your name, you can buy the actual name from a domain registrar. Stay with an established registrar; after all, this will be your piece of real estate on the web. Look for support, ease of use and lastly cost. Expect to pay around $10 – 15 for a year of domain name registration. I have used a number of domain registrars over the years and now pretty much exclusively use Namecheap.com.
When you buy your domain, you’ll be typing in the URL you hope to land, such as growingfabulousorchids.com. If it’s not available, the system will usually show you some alternatives that are available, such as growingfabulousorchids.net, etc.
As you check out with your domain, many registrars will try to sell you additional products and services, like hosting, privacy, site building tools and more. You probably won’t need any of these right away and can always add them on later.
It’s best to take the time and brainstorm different names for your website.
- Does the name tell visitors what the site is all about? Remember “tree” vs. “bonsai tree”?
- Is the name clear and easy to pronounce? This is important because people often tell friends about sites they like.
- Is the name easy to remember, easy to spell or are there multiple ways to spell it? For example a domain name containing “for” could be spelled “for”, “four” or “4”. You don’t want people to guess.
- Is the name short and to the point?
- Is the name trademarked? You don’t want to spend time building a site just to find out that the name or something very similar to it has been trademarked. Why not head over to TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) to find potential “offenders”.
Plan on spending some time on selecting a winning domain name for your site.
It will pay off in the long run, I promise!