How to choose the best domain for a website?

One of the key aspects of a brand’s online presence is the address under which the content or functionality prepared by the company that owns the brand can be found.

Selecting the domain is important because it can become a tool that benefits its owner. Different configurations of available domain names are tested right at the stage of naming new companies or products that are to enter the market. Inventing a name which, after the addition of the extension, can become the name of the domain without modifications is very desirable. It happens that a well-sounding domain name replaces the name of the company in everyday language. In this case, how the name sounds is just as important as how it looks on the screen or on printed materials.

Depending on the communication strategy, the company may have separate domains for various product brands. Expenditure on the maintenance of separate domains for brands will be negligible compared to the total cost of separate promotional activities for each of them anyway.
In the case of existing names it may happen that the domain is already taken. In this situation we have to look for clever word connections to achieve an interesting effect or try to buy the rights to the domain that interests us from its owner.
For the purposes of this text, we will base the considerations for acquiring a domain on a situation where the company name already exists. Let’s assume that we are looking for the best solution for the entity called “Cool Team”.

Domain selection criteria

The name of the business or the product

Besides its availability, the primary criterion for the selection of the domain is the name of the business – regardless of whether the website will be related to the brand, company, product or idea. In order to clarify and enrich the message that a domain name sends, you can try to weave a description of the industry, the type of product or even its features into it. This makes sense in a situation where the brand is new on the market, the website will cover an entirely new segment in the company’s offer, or the name of the product, brand or company consists of, e.g. two letters, and such domains are unavailable or very expensive. It is important to make sure that such action doesn’t overly extended the domain name. This solution is supposed to promote the business and not vice versa. For example, the “MC” company which is starting the production of unique, innovative bikes may consider several domains, e.g.: mcsuperbikes, mcbikes, etc. and the domain name still won’t be very long.

A domain with a hyphen is not a good idea. It might be, however, when we have a domain name without a hyphen and we want to protect ourselves against some unauthorized person registering that domain. Simply speaking, a domain without a hyphen will always be seen as the “main” one.

Location

The extension of the domain is an important aspect. The decision as to which extension we should choose should be based on the conditions related to the location of the business and the markets in which the entrepreneur wants to operate.

When considering the location for your business, you should take into account what message it sends to the potential customers and partners. For example, by choosing a .dk extension, a Danish manufacturer of furniture and home furnishings gives a message closely associated with the perception of furniture and accessories manufactured in Denmark. The person entering the website expects products with good quality, modern design and a relatively high price. In turn, internet users who visit a website with an address ending with .es or .cat will not be surprised to find themselves on a website of a Barcelona based company that designs and manufactures fashionable and extravagant bags and accessories. Such examples can go on and on. But keep in mind that there’s another side to this coin. A national extension usually works best locally.

Market

An important criterion for selecting the domain extensions is the actual or expected market to which the offer, and thus the website, is addressed.

Anyone wishing to operate in several countries and expect to further expand can buy the appropriate national domains, e.g. coolteam.us, coolteam.ca or coolteam.de.

If the product is only targeted at Europe, you can consider coolteam.eu.

If the planned target market is broad and you expect development, a global domain will be the best option – e.g. .com. At the same time you have to realize that the majority of .com domains composed of English words, as well as all the short .com domains that can be pronounced are already registered.

Industry

Knowing that you will operate globally, you can consider an alternative domain. Here, the decision will be related to the industry/profile of the company. Technology startups (Internet applications) like .io and .co domains. Hosting companies and companies related to the Internet and networks often choose .net. Businesses related to information technology can use the Italian .it extension (coolteam.it would be an interesting idea for our imaginary company).

Unusual domains

A solution used by many companies is the creation of domains that can be considered “clever”. An interesting effect can be achieved by registering the Armenian .am domain – coolte.am. An often encountered example is youtu.be (a Belgian domain). Just keep in mind that the cool idea shouldn’t overshadow the whole message. Thinking will be useful alongside creativity in this case.

Checking availability of domains

Even the most brilliant domain name idea can be derivative. Coming up with a name involves checking the availability of the desired domain right as you come up with it. The internet is full of tools that allow you to not only verify if the domain exists but also prove to be helpful in the process of generating ideas, suggesting other options similar to the domain name you originally entered. Domainr.com is a good and fast tool which can also be used in the form of an iOS and Android app.

Secondary market of Internet domains

Trading second hand domains is a separate branch of business. There are people and even companies that profit from reselling domains. Their business is based on registering domains which someone might want to buy. Then there’s also cybersquatting – a dirty business involving seizing or taking over domains which can be useful for someone. From the point of view of the idea of ​​the Internet, it is not a positive phenomenon. Domain prices can reach millions of dollars. You can read about that at the end of this entry. Buying a domain must be economically justified. If there are indications that the acquisition of a certain domain will provide benefits adequate to the effort, it’s worth to seriously consider such an option.

It isn’t always necessary to buy a domain for huge amounts of money. In the most optimistic scenario, you can obtain a domain for free. This can happen when we registered a word trademark (or a word and figurative trademark) in a given market. Then we have the legal basis to request the domain.

It also happens that the owner of the domain is a small company, such as a private person, e.g. a blogger who will be fine with taking an alternative domain and will relinquish the main domain for a small fee. With a small fee meaning one of up to several thousand dollars.

It may happen that the domain belongs to the registrar or a hosting company (e.g. GoDaddy), which offers the registered domains as “Premium” domains – a bit pricier than registering new domains.

The worst case scenario is if the domain belongs to the above-mentioned cybersquatters. They have thousands of domain names and are cashing in on the sale of a small percentage of them. They won’t be satisfied with a small amount – especially when it comes to names consisting of common words. In this case, they will patiently wait for someone who will buy the domain.

Determining who owns a domain is only the beginning. To check this, you can use who.is (clever domain!). The whole process, due to the intangible nature of the sold goods, may be associated with the risk of not getting what you paid for. Thus, you must act carefully during the transaction. Often, the best decision is to use an intermediary in the payment – Escrow. In such a case we pay the money to the intermediary and he passes it to the seller only after we confirm receiving ownership of the domain.

In most cases (especially when it comes to global .com, .net domains, etc.) to transfer ownership you simply need the AuthInfo code used to authorize the domain transfer between operators. The holder of such a code – generated by the domain registrar upon request of the current owner – can take over the domain. In the case of many national domains it is more difficult because you have to complete more paperwork – fill out the assignment form, provide scans of business documents and so on.

For “used” domains it is important to check their history. If the domain was used for spam, pornography or malware, Google may “remember” it. In such a situation, it may be difficult, costly and time-consuming to build its reputation back. The history of a domain can be checked in the Internet Archive. The current reputation of a domain can be verified using Open Site Explorer.

Domain registration

You can register a new domain through one of the huge number of registrars. OVH (a French hosting giant) is especially worth recommending as it offers a wide selection of national domains (TLD) and highly competitive prices, due to its scale.

When registering a domain (or domains) you need to remember to enter the email address you actually use on a regular basis. Many people have lost their domains by not renewing them because the expiration notices weren’t reaching them. Many registrars provide the option to automatically renew the domain and charge a fee from the credit card. This option is worth considering. Missing the deadline for renewing the contract may even result in irretrievable loss of the possibility to recover the domain. It may be that the previously used domain can currently only be bought back.

New domain extensions

In 2014, new domains extensions (nTLD) started to appear. An interesting alternative can be found among them. The choice is ever-increasing and their biggest con is that they are not sufficiently widespread so providing someone with an URL like www.coolteam.website or an e-mail address such as office@coolteam.online may surprise the person. If you can find a good way to promote a domain with an unusual extension, it’s worth trying. You should certainly follow the fate of this concept. There is a ton of specific domain extensions – their list can be found, for example, here.

Good to know

Those involved in e-marketing should monitor the situation and new trends on the market. It’s good to know, for example, which domain extensions are the most frequently registered ones.
You might find the information about the priciest domains sold on the secondary market interesting.

Choosing a domain name must be approached seriously but that doesn’t necessary mean without a dose of creative madness. It can become a very good marketing tool. In the process of its acquisition and registration you must use the solutions that ensure achieving the desired effect in a fast, easy and secure way.

 
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