Six Steps to Picking a Domain Name

Registering a domain name is the first step in building your online presence, and it’s important to get it right. Having a domain name that is associated with your business and easy to remember will help build your customer base, while having the wrong name can lose you customers. The following six steps will help you get the right domain name.

Step 1: Brainstorm

The first step is to brainstorm the possibilities. Some will be obvious, such as yourcompanyname.com, but think of as many alternatives as you can, because the domain name you really want may be already taken. Take your time on this step as you may eventually want to register several domain names (all pointing to your main site), and you will already have your list.

Make a shortlist of the most promising names, which should favor short, easy to remember names readily identifiable with your business. Generally, names seven characters or less are often easier for your customers to recall, but names that are too short can also be difficult to remember. If you have any doubts, ask friends, customers and colleagues which names they consider best. Don’t use trademarked names that are not your own unless you enjoy hearing from lawyers. Also remember that domain names can’t use spaces or symbols, but you can include numbers and dashes. They are not case sensitive.

Step 2: Search

Once you have a shortlist of possible domain names, use your favorite search engine to search for the URL. You can do a search via a domain registrar, but this will only tell you if the domain name is available. By using a regular search engine you will be able to narrow down your list, and about your business’s competition at the same time. Check out other extensions besides .com, such as .net, .org, .us, .co.uk, .info, .biz, and so on.

Step 3: Select a Domain Name Provider

Use the search facilities here at smallbusiness-domain.com to shop around and compare the major domain name providers and select the most suitable. Decide now whether you want a domain name provider that will only register the domain name, or one that will also host your website. Web hosting companies often include free (or cheap) registration of at least one domain name when you open a web hosting account, and there can be advantages in having one company handle everything.

Step 4: Check the Availability

Use the domain name provider’s search engine to check if your chosen domain name is available. Many domain name providers also display the results for related searches such as similar domain names and those with different extensions.

Step 5: Select the Duration

You will often have a choice of the duration for which you register the domain. Registering for multiple years can have financial benefits, but if you are unsure, it may be better to register for a year initially. Renewals are usually done automatically, with advance notice to allow you to decide not to renew.

Step 6: Register the Domain

Now you have chosen the domain name and determined it is available, it is time to purchase via the domain provider website. As noted above, if you are purchasing web hosting the domain name may be free. In other cases you may need a credit or debit card handy to complete the purchase. You will usually be informed within a few minutes or so that the registration is approved.

If several of the domain names on your shortlist are available, it may be wise to register some or all of them right away. You don’t need a website or hosting for each, as they can all be set up to point to your main website. If you register them now, you will prevent others registering them. The cost of registration is quite small and many businesses choose to register a number of alternate names, or domain names with alternate spellings, misspellings, or different extensions, to make sure they have all the bases covered.