You have probably noticed that nowadays, pretty much every business out there has a website. It has become a prerequisite for success in today’s technology driven society. The problem is, many people have great ideas or awesome businesses, but no clue how to build a website to promote them! Not to worry, we are here to help. Each month for the next few issues, we will focus on a different step in the website creation process. To kick the section off, we have advice from two pros in the industry on how to get started by choosing your domain.
STEP 1: CHOOSING A GREAT DOMAIN
By Jackson Darlow, JD Innovation Website Design (www.jdinnovation.com)
Domains have become common place as a contact detail of the modern day. You see them on business cards, hear them on the radio and catch sight of them as you drive by a billboard or store front. Some domains have become catch phrases such as, "Google it” or "Facebook me”. With all this domain ‘experience’ you’d think it would be easy to choose a great domain when your turn comes, right? But with the ever growing list of internet based companies, web savvy competitors and like minded people, choosing a great domain can be a challenge!
What is a domain?
The most common domains have a ‘name’ and a ‘TLD’(Top Level Domain), for example: "google(Name).co.nz(TLD)” . It has become trendy to add a ‘www’ to the beginning of a domain, and it is now expected that a website’s domain will look something like "www.google.co.nz”.
The most common use for a domain is to identify a website. A great way to understand a domain’s purpose is to think of a website like a house and its domain as the address – if you are looking to visit someone’s house you know that you can find it at a particular address.
Where to start
Your new domain will not only identify your website, it may also be a point of contact, a web surfing destination, a topic of conversation or a search result (if you’re lucky!) When trying to think up a great domain name make sure to consider its purpose and its audience. Is your idea easy to type into a web browser address bar? Does it contain key words that people may type into a search engine? Can you imagine someone sharing it with others easily? When you start to breathe some imaginary life into your domain, it becomes easier to think up a great one!
Match your domain to your website content
Where to next? You probably have more than just one idea! This means it’s time to match your domain to your website. What key words will your website have on it? If you are a furniture salesman, what type of furniture do you sell? For example, if the answer is office furniture, a domain with the word "office” in it is a good choice.
Is your website a broad or specific topic? Your domain may not be a great choice if you choose ‘pottery.com’ when you specialize in teacups. It’s also important to bridge the gap between your website name and its content, finding a balance between the two can help narrow down the right choice.
Do your homework
Once you’re down to the short list of ideas, it’s time to check if those ideas are viable on the internet. Your idea may already be taken or its topic may already be associated with something you’d rather not be a part of. Make sure to try out your domain using a search engine like Google and type it into your web browser’s address bar. Try typing it 10 times and guessing common typos people might make. Say it out loud and then say it out loud to someone else and see if they understand it. This also means keeping it short and sweet.
Check your domain’s availability
By now you’ll be getting close! So it’s time to consider registering your domain. For this, you will need a domain registration service (you can easily find one online). Most domain registration websites have an availability checker – use one of these to see if your domain is available.
Do you want a ‘.com’ or a ‘.co.nz’? How much are you willing to pay (if anything)? Different domains vary in price and can even change in price depending on what country you order them from (I like to order my ‘.com’ domains from USA based companies while ‘.co.nz’ domains I register from NZ companies). If your website is for leisure purposes, you may want to consider a free domain service (where you will usually get a ‘subdomain’) or you could consider a cheaper domain like a ‘.info’ domain. If you are serious, however, you will probably want to buy all the major variations e.g. ‘steve.com’, ‘steve.net’, ‘steve.org’.
Tips for registering your domain
Always compare prices with multiple domain registration companies. Some people find themselves being grossly overcharged because they didn’t take an extra 10 minutes to weigh their options. Some people find their domains unstable because they went to a budget company.
Most domains also come with a refund period, which gives you a bit of breathing room in case you make a mistake.
Thinking up the right domain or seeing a great domain take effect can take time. Domains often take 3-6 months to really show their true potential once registered.
Once you’ve got the hang of it you will have no trouble choosing a great domain. The way to really master the process is by taking the time to think about your domain and do your research. You want to find out ahead of time whether your ideas will actually work once they’re up and running on the web. Before long, you’ll be topic hunting and key word analysing with the rest and the best of us!
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR DOMAIN
By Kyle Gibson, Technical Director of Underground Design (www.undergrounddesign.co.nz)
So you have the idea of the century, the business name of the year and you are ready to handle the thousands of potential customers coming your way. Before you jump in and purchase your domain name, make sure to read through this simple guide to give you a head start in the game.
Before you start on your journey to the perfect domain name, write down 5 to 10 keywords and phrases that best describe what you do. Play around with these keywords joining them together to see where you might find a good match.
Think about the future
If you are going to be trading out of New Zealand, make sure to get the ‘.com’ domain name. However, if you plan on being a local player in the market you can’t be without your ‘.co.nz’ domain. If you plan to do business in Australia you will need to either have an Australian ABA number or deal with a web company like us who can register it for you.
Spelling: singular or plural?
The number one rule – and I can’t stress this enough – make sure that you use the correct spelling of the word. A lot of people can’t spell, so make it easy on your users by giving them something simple. Make sure there are no variations of the word and if there are, and you must have it, make sure you buy both the singular and plural spellings of it.
You may or may not have noticed that when doing a Google search the words you use are highlighted in the domain names. Let’s say for example you search "web design”, the lucky person who registered the domain name webdeisgn.co.nz comes up first. This is not a coincidence – Google knows that it will be most relevant to you.
Make sure your domain name describes (in one or two words only) what you do. If someone searches your company name, you will come up first regardless of your domain name.
If you are still struggling to come up with a unique domain name, use a thesaurus. Play with words that describe your business and right away you might find a domain name that no one has thought of.
When you suddenly make it big, will people want to be associated with you? Think of your domain name on a huge billboard or on TV, with someone talking about it. You really need to make a statement that you mean business, and be perceived as a professional.
Avoid hyphens and numbers.
If possible, try not to use hyphens or numbers in your domain name. The reason for this is that if you are advertising and someone see’s your domain name "web-design.co.nz”, there is a good chance they will overlook the hyphen and type in "webdesign.co.nz”. You have now successfully sent your customers to your competitor.
Tools to help you
Okay so you have your fantastic name in mind, now you need to head over to Google and search for "Google Keyword Tool”. This is not a big secret but once you start using this tool, you could stumble across some words that generate huge traffic without even trying. Let’s take the words "Auction”, "Trade” and "Sell”, for example. Google tells me that the word Trade has 16 million monthly global searches (1 million in New Zealand) and hardly any competition. The word "Auction” has 250 thousand searches a month.
And remember, if you get stuck, ask someone in the web world. We see so many websites every day that there is a good chance something will roll right off the tips of our tongues.