How do I choose a domain name?
If being found in the major search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc.) is extremely important to you, it is very important you register a name that contains your major keywords or subject instead of your company name.
In fact the average surfer searches by subject, not by proper name. So why it may seem cool to have a name like petsforless.com, you'll want to choose a name that includes keywords that your target audience would likely use when they search especially if you want to cater to a specific area and not the world wide web.
So with that in mind, a name like vermont_petshop.com would be much better than pets_for_less.com. Sure, you can still list your company name on your web pages, but I believe it's more important to make sure the domain name includes your important "search friendly" keywords if you want to receive traffic from all over.
If you are just creating a website for a local business, getting traffic from all over the web may not be as important to you. This is because your customers will be local and you may want to grow your brand name in a specific area.
If this is the case, it may make more sense to register your company name and create brand awareness locally instead of trying to capitalize on search engine presence.
For example, let's say you have a company called Anthony Catering and you serve people for catering parties in your area only. Example in New York.
Since you are only servicing local clients, you may not care if someone in California can find your site in Google since they are not likely to become one of your customers.
In this case, it's not as important to register a name filled with "search optimized" keywords. You may decide to just reserve the company name, anthonycatering.com or even newyork_catering.com. Or just register both.
Here are some more tips on choosing the best domain name:
1) Don't register domain names that are too long and have too many syllables if you can help it. Yes, you can register names up to 50 characters long, but that doesn't mean you have to use all 50 characters.
You want your name to be easy to remember. Not everyone will bookmark your page initially so try to think of something that can be easily remembered, although I realize this may be tricky since a lot of names are taken these days.
2) Use hyphens if your name is more than 3 words long (unless your name includes 3 short words). A name like carbuying.com doesn't really need a hyphen because it's readable the way it is.
However a name like used-car-buying-scams.com looks better than usedcarbuyingscams.com since there are so many words in the name.
3) Protect your name by registering multiple extensions (.net, .org, etc.) This deters people from copying your name. For example, if you own garden-tips-for-us.com you can also register garden-tips-for-us.net and any other extension that's available.
You don't have to build a site on all the domains, but you can reserve the others to keep people (copycats) from registering them.
Of course, you can still list your company name on the web site some place, but your domain name will include all the important keywords you'll want to be found with.
You Should Protect Your Privacy
As you're registering your name, you will be presented with the option of keeping your domain name private - a deluxe feature you'll probably want to take advantage of.
A private domain registration will keep your information (name, email address, etc.) out of the global Internet database, and will prevent a lot of spam from reaching your email box.
Even though registering a "private" domain is not mandatory and will not block all spam, I highly recommend you select this option. I certainly wish this had been available when I created my first site.
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