Your domain name is your online address. It is where people can find and view your website. Where they can see ’you’. Here are a few things to think through, if you are unsure about what to choose as your domain name.
- If you have a business name and registration which is not your own name, and you want to brand that business name, then use your business name as your domain name
- If you are your ’name’ sole trading as your ’business name’, you can use either, and incorporate the other in the website design, banner and content to make people aware of the relationship between the two entities
- If you are using your own name as your brand, without adding a ’trading as’ or a registered business name, then use your own name
- It can be a good idea to add a word or phrase describing your main activity in your domain name. Such and such ’web design’, such and such ’plumbing’, as this will help your ranking and search ability. It also informs people immediately what you are about. This can work if you have a main activity or a general description you feel covers all your work, such as ’electrician’, ’renderer’ etc. If your name is not unique, it can really help searchers locate your website quickly
- www.janesmithwebdesign.com.au is much more likely to action a click via search results, than www.janesmith.com.au
Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing between using your name, a business name, or descriptive word:
- Am I presenting myself directly, the business I work on and in, or both?
- When I think of my work, do I feel it is an extension of myself, my being, who I am?
- Or is it what I do - and I would prefer to keep my personal self at a distance
- I would like to use my name, but it is easily mistaken for someone else (can I add a descriptive word?)
From an online business and search engine perspective
- easy to remember
- easy to spell
- easy to read when the words are lowercase in one line
- key words related to your industry or business
- not easily confused with another site
- keep it the same - website/business/brand name
- not easily mis-typed to lead to your competitors
- not easily wrongly searched to lead to your competitors
How do I find domain names that are available to register?
Domain names are registered, not owned and registration is a legally binding agreement.
When looking at your preferred domain name, check it is actually available using the two options below. It may already be in use as a website. Someone may have registered but not used it, and indeed have no intention of using it. In this case, it will possibly be for sale for a ridiculous amount - this is called Domain Flipping and I strongly advise people to not engage in this reselling practice.
Another important research task at this point is to check there are no other exact matches with different extensions (ie .com, .com.au, .net, .co.uk etc). If there are, check they are non-competitive, and not easily mistaken for you. Domain Tools (link below) gives you detailed information on domain names, owners and where the site is hosted.
You may also want to be able to register many domain extensions to cover yourself for international work, or just making sure no one else can compete by buying or using a domain name the same as yours, with a different extension. Check they are all available.
Important points when registering your domain name
Many of my clients have asked friends, family and web designers to register their domain name(s) on their behalf. This has, in many cases, led to issues when coming to me for a website. The most important section of the domain name registration form is the 'Technical Contact'. If this is not listed as YOUR email, you will have no login details for your domain name account! Your website cannot go live without accessing your domain name account and changing the nameserver settings.
Please register your own domain name, and do not lose the login details! It is not a difficult form to complete.
In my case, I open an account for my client, and then pass on the instructions for actual domain name registration. I always recommend Crucial in Sydney - they have live chat to help you with any questions, and are the most reliable, ethical and customer friendly hosting and registration group I know.
There are rules for some domain name extensions, such as needing an ABN (Australian Business Number) to register a .com.au or .net.au ending. To register org.au, you must be registered Not For Profit.
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