What's in a domain name and why is it so important? The simple answer is that your company domain name is an important part of your brand. As your online "home" for your business, your website domain helps define your company and highlights your product or service. It also helps bring in customers searching for what you have to offer, whether they're searching for you in Google or coming across your website URL on social media.
But choosing a business domain name (and connected business email) can get tricky when everything good already seems to be taken. For example, if you owned a hotel business and wanted to gain online customers’ attention, the most logical and best name to have as your domain name would be hotels.com. Unfortunately, that name — like so many others — is no longer available. In fact, it was registered and eventually sold in 2001 for a whopping $11 million. So what’s in a name? Everything.
What Is a Domain Name, Technically?
Put simply, a domain name is your business’s web "address." And just like a business’s physical address, your website comes with a web address that has a dedicated IP (Internet Protocol) number, making your site unique.
When a business is assigned a domain name, the name is your company’s website name, which will be associated with an IP number that may look something like 80.311.246.978. But don’t worry. Your customers won’t need to remember the string of numbers that make up your IP address. In fact, they may not even need your website address! Search engines such as Google and Yahoo may lead them to your site through keywords such as hotel, car, rentals, boating, etc.
How to Pick a Business Domain Name
Most of the common, memorable and easy-to-find domain names have been taken. Names such as cars.com, hotels.com, insurance.com and even internet.com and we.com are already registered, in use and owned by someone else. Often the only way to get a one-word, simple-to-remember address would be to buy it from the owner, which can be very costly.
Top 20 Most Expensive Domain Names
Another option, often used by intrepid internet opportunists, would be to acquire a domain name after its registration has expired. (This often happens when the original domain name owner neglects to follow up and renew with the registrar.)
Taking into account that millions of domain names have been claimed, and assuming that you do not want to spend loads of money purchasing a domain name, the next step is to get creative.
10 Tips for Creating a Successful Domain Name
Make it your business name.
If you can’t make it your actual business name, make it something memorable, or even a keyword or term associated with your business.
Remember your brand! (See Tip #2)
Keep it short.
Avoid numbers, hyphens, underscores or any punctuation.
If possible, make sure you go with a “.com” extension. The ".com" is by far the most common and popular extension. Other options include .net, .gov, .org, .info, and even .top and .info are slowly growing in popularity.
Have extra cash to burn? You can even see if there are any domain names up for auction.
Make it a point to link your domain name to your account name on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites. Similar names on all platforms help you build a cohesive brand.
Buy the domain name for as long as you can. That way, you won’t need to renew every year. (And above all, remember your expiration date!)
Business Email Addresses
We all have our own personal email addresses, whether it's firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. But a business email address should be viewed differently. First off, you are conveying your brand, as well as your products or services. A business email address adds credibility to your business and conveys a sense of professionalism. It’s also what links you to your domain name. The best way to do this is for Joe or Jane to create a business email address that fits their company profile and mission, such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
There are several email or domain hosting services that can help you set up a business email account on your domain—in fact, you can often create your business email and business domain name with the same service.
Registering Your Business Domain and Business Email
Once you’ve selected a name for your website, it’s time to get your domain name and business email registered. There are a number of online registrars that will provide the service. At a certain point, the domain name will expire and will need to be renewed. Don't forget! Failure to respond to the registrar’s emailed requests for renewal will result in you forfeiting your domain name. At that point, you risk a competitor buying your name and basically leaving your business’s web presence dead in the water.
Get Domain Name Help with Incfile
If you're ready to start your business, Incfile can be the partner you need, from free business incorporation to registered agents and more. Since 2004, Incfile has helped over 500,000 entrepreneurs and business owners get their businesses off the ground.
In today’s economy, having a business domain name and a company email is essential for success. These two components help add credibility to your business, build your brand and give you a footprint in the ever-growing cyber community.
Peter Mavrikis is an author and editor with over 25 years of experience in publishing. He has worked as the Editorial Director for Barron’s Educational Series, as well as Kaplan Test Prep, where he ran the test prep, foreign language, and study guide divisions. Peter has also written several books on history, exploration, science, and technology.