Your domain is the main address of your website, the part that ends in .com, .org or similar. Domains are registered with a central agency so that everyone across the world reaches the same website if they enter the same domain name in their browser.
The domain came late in There’s No Page Like Home, but can be very early in your actual process: in fact, you can register domain names well in advance of securing a hosting account, much less building a website. This allows you to reserve domain names for business ideas even if their timeline is years long. Domain names typically go for about ten dollars per year, so it’s an inexpensive investment to make sure you can get the name you want.
How do you go about securing a domain name?
- Start with your business name plus .com – that is what your customers will expect your web address to be. If your business’s name is more than three words long you may want to abbreviate or truncate it to avoid a superlong web address, but make sure people will recognize it as the same business.
↬ For example, if your business were Sue Ann Joseph’s Deep-Dish Pizzeria, SueAnnsPizzeria.com would be a recognizable shortening; JosephsDeepDish.com would likely be confusing.
- Check that domain’s availability. Your hosting provider should be able to do this, or you can visit a site like Whois.com and type the domain into the search bar.
- If the domain is available, register it! WhoIs does those transactions, and every web hosting company I’ve encountered does as well. You are free to have your domain registered through a different company from your web host; having them together simply gives some additional convenience, such as having a unified bill.
Sidetracks: When it’s not as easy as 1-2-3
There are three cases where you’ll have to consider alternate or additional domains:
- Your business name is unavailable.
↬ Smucker Companies, an insurance, rental, and construction business in Ohio, is at smuckercompanies.com. Whether they tried for smucker.com is unknown, but that domain belongs to the J.M. Smucker Company, of Smucker’s preserves.
- There are multiple versions of your business name people are likely to type in to a browser.
↬ The aforementioned Smucker’s owns both smucker.com and smuckers.com.
- Your business name leaves something to be desired as a domain.
↬ Essentially every non-Spanish-speaker needs Aquilino spelled for them.
If your business name is available as a domain, we recommend registering it, even if you also want another domain. You can have multiple domains pointing at the same website, an idea we’ll revisit later in this series.
In brainstorming additional domains, consider alternate shortenings of your company name, your products, location, tagline, and other terms and phrases used in your marketing materials. For example, compare apple.com and applerecords.com, or sunrisefarm.com and sunrisefarmvt.com. When we looked for a domain that was easier to communicate orally, we turned to our tagline and registered OneSizeFitsOneDesign.com as an alternate route to our website. It’s long, but shorter than spelling out Aquilino.