What is a domain name?
A domain name is an online web address that people use to uniquely identify their website online. Every website has its own unique domain name. This is the feature people use to browse the web and visit different pages. To access a website, people can either click on a link that leads to a domain name, or type your company’s domain name directly into the address bar on their browser.
When you launch a website, you are required to assign it to a chosen domain name through a web hosting company. Domains have two main parts: the Top Level Domain (TLD)and the Second Level Domain (SLD). On “Indeed.com,” “.com” is the TLD and “Indeed” is the SLD. Subpages and other modifications to a web URL are known as subdomains.
Some people have multiple domain names that redirect to the same web page. For example, a carpet cleaner could have the main domain name “atlantacarpetcleaners.com” to start off. They decided later on to purchase the domain name “ditchdirtycarpet.com” because it incorporates their company tagline. Through their web host, they connect the two domain names so that anyone who types in “ditchdirtycarpet.com” will be sent to their main page on “atlantacarpetcleaners.com”
Why do businesses need a domain name?
Even companies that do most of their business in-person should have a domain name to help establish and protect their brand and online presence. Domain names are the access point for your website, giving customers a simple way to learn more about your company. If you don’t claim your business’s name as a domain name online, someone else may be able to purchase it, possibly confusing your customers. The other reasons businesses need to have a domain name include:
Having a website with its own domain name makes your business appear legitimate compared to companies that operate exclusively on social media or use another website’s domain. Some website builders and online shops give you access to a subdomain on their website, which is a great start, but can appear unprofessional. For example, VenusGym.websitemaker.com or websitemaker.com/VenusGym look much less professional than VenusGym.com and are less simple for customers to remember.
Attracting natural traffic
A good domain name is related to your brand or industry, allowing businesses to attract customers who are typing in keywords related to their needs. If you can snag high-value domain names that are relevant to your business and products, you may be able to connect with customers who type in your domain name directly looking for industry-specific advice.
Once you have a domain name, you can start putting shareable content on your website and easily produce links for customers to share. You link your domain name on social media, put it on posters, add it to business cards and more, giving the wider public a simple way to share your business with their friends and increase word-of-mouth marketing.
Tips for choosing a domain name
Simply having a domain name is not enough to stay competitive in the digital marketplace. The domain name also has to be memorable and intuitive enough for customers to use. When brainstorming possible domain names for your business, implement these tips to select a high-quality domain that can grow with your business:
Use a “dot com”
There are several TLDs that you can choose from like .co, .net. and .biz, but .com is by far the most popular with almost 50% of TLDs worldwide being .coms. Businesses outside of the USA sometimes use a TLD that is coded by country such as .ca for Canadian companies, but securing a .com can make companies be appealing to customers across the globe. People tend to see .coms as reputable business pages, and may be more likely to click on a .com domain than the same SLD paired with another TLD like .net.
Your domain name should be short and focus on the core of your business’s brand. Deciding on a domain name requires you to find a balance between identifying your business accurately and making sure the domain is short enough for customers to remember.
Distinguish from competition
Avoid choosing domain names that are similar to your competitors. Event planning website ParvatisParty.com could easily be confused with ParvatiParties.com. If your brand name itself is someone else’s website name, you might consider changing your branding and domain name to be more distinctive and mitigate confusion.
Say it aloud
You should be able to easily pronounce your domain name aloud, avoiding any characters that are not letters of the alphabet. If you have to spell out your domain name over the phone or in a video advertisement, numbers, dashes and other special characters can cause confusion among customers. Avoid common homonyms like “two,” “too” and “to” or “there” and “their” to make sure customers know exactly what to type in the address bar.
Before trying to register your new domain, check its availability by typing it into your web browser’s address bar. If a website already exists, you will be redirected to their page. Unregistered domains will give you an error message or information on how to purchase the domain from the web host. Many website builders also have a feature that will check your domain name and verify its availability for you.
How to set up a domain name
Follow these easy steps to secure a domain name and set it up with your company’s website:
1. Choose a domain name provider
There are many options on the web where you can purchase a domain name. You can get a domain name from a website builder, a web host or a company that specializes in registering domain names. When choosing a domain name provider, compare their pricing and user reviews to find the right situation for you.
If you want to secure a domain name without setting up a website, you can purchase the domain name at domain.com for a certain period of time. This saves the domain name for you so it will be ready whenever you want to launch your website. Businesses that want help setting up their website can find a domain through providers like Squarespace or GoDaddy.
2. Register your domain
All domain names are registered with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The registration fee usually costs about $10-$35 per year. Your domain provider may register the name on your behalf, with some waiving fees, but you can also register it directly by contacting ICANN.
3. Connect your domain to your website
If you used a website builder to acquire your domain name, you can automatically connect it to your website. Independent website creators have their own steps for connecting an outside domain, which you can find by logging into your host account.
Roles that can assist with managing your web domain
Managing a website and its domain names can be a significant responsibility, especially as businesses grow. Hiring an employee to help you set up and manage your domain names can be the first step to creating an in-house IT department for your company. Consider hiring web developers to help with your domain name.Web developersoversee the entire process of maintaining your website, fixing bugs and managing system administration to prevent your website from crashing.
Related: How to Hire a Web Developer
You may also want to hire a market researcher to help you decide on the most impactful domain name for your business, adjust your branding and choose popular widgets and web tools. Other roles that can help you set up and manage your domain name include website managers, web designers and web administrators.
Frequently asked questions about business domain names
How do I register a domain name for free?
Some websites, such as Wix and Bluehost, provide you with a free domain name in exchange for purchasing their web hosting services. You can also consider using a free subdomain temporarily until you are ready to invest in maintaining your own domain name.
How do I permanently buy a domain name?
Unfortunately, you cannot buy a domain name permanently, but you can sign up for a contract as long as ten years.
Why do you need to register a domain name?
Registering your domain name establishes a unique web presence for your page and prevents other businesses from setting up a website with the same URL as your company.