EstudioWebDoce / Pixabay

Your small business website is a great way to build your brand and attract new customers. However, getting people to your website is the result of a number of factors, which mostly relies on SEO to pull in attention and search engine rankings. Even so, there’s another level of consideration that comes into helping people to your site: your domain name.

What Is a Domain Name?

A domain name is the name of your website. For example, when you came to our blog, you came to – this is our domain name. When you start digging into the technical details, the domain name is what allows web browsers to contact IP addresses and begin the process of transferring data from server to access point.

Since IP addresses are strings of numbers (and consequently much harder for us to remember reliably), domain names allow people an easy way to access web addresses. For your small business, you want to select a domain name for your address that is just that: easy to remember so that people can access your website.

How to Select an Effective Domain Name

Since an effective domain name makes it easier for potential customers to find your site, you want to have a good one. Just like you thought hard about selecting your business name, you want to do the same with your domain. When picking out (or even updating) your domain name, consider these factors:

  • Availability. Before you get too far into thinking about your domain name, understand that you can only have it if it’s available. If you’re too generic, there’s a chance that someone else has already snatched up your idea.
  • Specific. One of the easiest ways to avoid the “someone else took my domain name idea” conundrum is to get specific. Let’s say you run an auto repair business. Including “auto repair” as part of your domain will help a lot, especially when you combine it with your specific service area. As a bonus, you’ll get an SEO boost because keywords are in your domain name.
  • Relevant. You also want to make sure your domain name is relevant to your business as well. For example, that auto repair business wouldn’t benefit from including “bakery” in their domain. Stick to your business for the best results.
  • Memorable. Another great way to make your domain name accessible is to ensure it’s easy to remember. Anything too long or complex can mean your potential customers won’t be able to find your site, even if they want to. To help this, avoid using abbreviations (“2” for “to,” “u” for “you.” etc.) and dashes. Keeping your domain on the shorter side is another smart move.

Another good thing to keep in mind is that you have a choice about what extension you should choose. In most cases, .com is your safest bet, as it’s the most well-known. You can also use .net and .org if your desired .com isn’t available, but you should stick to these three. Any other type isn’t as well known and ultimately doesn’t add anything to the value of your site. Some of them can even cost much more than you need to pay.

Best Practices for Domain Name Purchasing

After you’ve worked out the perfect domain name, you’re going to have to purchase it for use. You can do this by going through a domain name registrar (check here for a list of accredited domain name registrars) and paying your fee. After that, you’re ready to use your domain name to launch your website!

While it’s a simple process, you’ll want to exert some caution. Consider these best practices:

  • Do register yourself as the owner of the domain name to avoid any complications with ownership transfers.
  • Do remember to renew your registration. Many websites offer registration for a period of a year. After that, you may lose your domain name if you don’t renew before someone else picks it up. Set up auto renewal or purchase several years of registration at a time to avoid this risk.
  • Don’t overpay. The average price of a domain name is about $10-20 per year. There’s no reason for any small business to pay much more than this.
  • Don’t purchase “for sale” domains. Even if the name is perfect, these sorts of sales are often much more trouble than they’re worth.
  • Don’t buy a domain without researching it first. Besides checking if it’s available, you also want to make sure your potential domain name isn’t already associated with another business or trademark. Depending on the other party’s level of influence, you could end up with attorney fees on your hands. You also want to avoid domain names that have received previous bans from search engines.

When you follow best practices for picking and registering your domain name, you can have an effective way for customers to find your website. With that in place, you’ll have a great contribution to your small business’s marketing strategy.

For more info on bringing in traffic to your website, tune into our next entry of the Simple Tech for Small Business Owners series: How to measure your PPC campaign!