Saturday, December 16, 2006

Giving Your Online Business Powerful Domain Presence

What's the one make-it-or-break-it item that your online business needs to stand out from the crowd and become a huge success?

The right domain name!

The domain name is what people type in when they want to get to your site the part that comes after the http:// or the www. It's your virtual real estate address. Having something they can remember without looking it up each time or keeping it in their bookmarks to be lost among the others is the best thing you can do to get repeat visitors and word-of-mouth free traffic.

People say that all the good names are gone, but that's about as far from the truth as you can get. Here are some simple guidelines that will make your domain name -- and your business -- popular and memorable web destinations.

1. Choose a Dot-Com

The number one rule is, go for the dot-com ending, which is typed as .com. This is the Main St. of the virtual real estate world, and the one that most people will type in regardless of what your domain extension actually is. While .net and .org were popular for awhile, and then .us, .biz and .name took the stage, people always revert back to .com -- no matter how many fancy country code top level domains are launched into the mainstream, like .cc, .ws, .to, .cn and others.

2. Choose something memorable

You want your business name to be your domain name too, if possible. So if your flower shop is called Suzette's Flowers, you want to get suzettesflowers.com, assuming it's available. If not, try adding a dash, like suzettes-flowers.com or a secondary descriptive word like suzettesflowersonline.com or prettysuzettesflowers.com. If you're creative, you'll definitely be able to come up with something that works with your business name and is memorable for your customer.

Keep in mind that if you use a dash in your domain name, which some Search Engine Optimization experts say attracts more free traffic to your site, you have to say the dashes if you use your domain name in an audio product or commercial; so it would be "suzettes dash flowers dot com".

Most people typing in your domain name later will not type the dashes.

3. Get another variation

If you're lucky enough to grab a great domain name without the dashes, then you might want to get the same name with dashes between the words as well. You can put both of them up on your server as mirror sites to get the benefits of SEO as well as the ease of typing without the dashes.

You may also want to consider getting the .net or .org or even another extension to use as a sister site for your main dot com site... perhaps you put your forum on the .net, or use your .com for your main product and .net for your business background information site.

Even if you're looking for a domain name that you don't really think will be available, using your creativity and trying a variety of combinations should allow you to lock down a memorable domain name that will attract people to your website.