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How to choose a domain name?
The very first rule is: if *yourname*.com is available, get it!
This is the first address that comes to mind when people think about
your company's presence on the net. This is the first thing they
will type into the address bar, and you wouldn't want them to end
up on your competitor's web site, would you?
If *yourname*.com is not available, take *yourname*.net. This is
the second most visited extension. Keep an eye on the *yourname*.com
extension, and if it becomes available, register it. The best bet
is to register both *yourname*.com and *yourname*.net. Then over
99% of surfers will find your site with ease. If you cannot get
a .com name, make sure to advertise your site not as *yourname*,
but as *yourname*.net. Emphasize the extension, so less people make
a mistake of typing in a wrong address.
What if neither *yourname*.com, nor *yourname*.net is available?
If your company is a non-profitable organization, you might also
want to register *yourname*.org. For instance, the most known Open
Source web sites have a .org extension: www.linux.org,
etc. People expect such organizations to have a domain with .org
What if none of these domains are available? If you want to stick
to your site name no matter what, then think of getting a country-specific
domain extension. For example, if you operate a local Canadian company,
then getting a .ca extension might be a good choice. Your customers
would prefer to deal with a your company if your services are offered
locally more than with some company in Europe or Australia. Wouldn't
you rather look for your local restaurant or club when you want
to order food or reserve a table, as opposed to browsing some .com
site if the company does not operate in your city? Even more specific,
if you only operate in one province, you can register a province
extension. For instance, if you are situated in Manitoba, Canada,
you can choose *yourname*.mb.ca domain. Many telephone providers
prefer these extensions. Take a look
at a list of country codes.
One other variant is to add "the" or "my"
to the domain name. I would not recommend "my" - it will
make your company look unprofessional. Adding "the" is
better, but then you would have to advertise your company emphasizing
"the" every time when mentioning your domain name. Or
alternatively, you may add "e-" to the beginning of a
site name, again mentioning it when you advertise your business.
Hyphenation is another alternative, but some people find it annoying
and hard to type in. I personally would not recommend it.
If you don't have your business name yet, then choose your domain
name first. Remember, it's best to have *yourname*.com for your
site name. If your desired business name is taken, try thinking
of putting together pieces of several words. Suffixes like "com",
"ex", "tel", "ium" as well as "ant",
"ent" and "int", are the most common ones. You
can completely make up a word, like Google did. Try looking at other
languages and encorporating a translation of the word or just a
part of it into your company name.
As far as the length of a domain name, - it can be up to 67 characters.
It is obviously better to find a short, easily-remembered word,
but unfortunately, most of English short words are already registered.
If you are unable to find a short word for a name, then a long descriptive
name consisting from several words, is better than a meaningless
acronym. Optimally, try making your domain name maximum 2-3 words.
Otherwise it will be hard to type in, and your competitors might
use your visitor's typos to get them to their sites by registering
a domain name with one letter different from your domain name. Descriptive
names can also be found easier, since search engines can index them
better. (You don't think, your customers will type in "gwsc"
into a search engine as opposed to "great west service company",
do you? Chances are, they will not remember this acronym.)
And the last and very important point: never change a domain name!
You will lose sales and many visitors. Your customers associate
your domain with you. If they find somebody else's site under that
domain name, most likely, they are not going to take time to find
where your site moved. Search engines will also need time to reindex
the site at your old domain name, so search results will still lead
people to your old web site for a while. Think carefully when choosing
your domain name, so you would not change your mind in a year and
have to face all this trouble of changing all your business cards,
advertisements and losing sales.
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