How to Buy a Domain Name and Avoid Common Mistakes
By Gabriel Nwatarali
How to Register a Domain Name.
First and foremost, your domain name needs to be memorable and easily identifiable in relation to your company or brand. A good tip is to use well-known domain extensions, also known as top-level domains like .com, .info, or .ca. Your domain name is critical to your marketing strategy and that's why it's important that you do your homework. So you'll need to perform a bit of research before making a purchase.
How Important is Your Domain Name to SEO?
In the early years of the web, search engines used to place a high-value on the keywords contained within your domain name. Essentially, it was a huge ranking factor back then, neat huh? But today things are relatively different. The search engines decided to drop the value they placed on these exact match domain names. Why?
Well, as you may have already guessed, this knowledge was greatly abused by spammers to manipulate the search results in a negative way. However, the keywords within your domain names are still worth having but the weight placed on them is much lower now.
Regardless of this fact, you should still use a keyword enriched domain because it can't hurt your marketing efforts, right? And it might even help it. Even so, this hardly means that you'll rank high on the SERPs (search engine results pages) if you don't do some good SEO work.
Are You Local, Small or Big Business?
What kind of business will you be operating? Choose your domain name based on that! For example, we chose 'techhelp.ca' because we thought that the bulk of our business would most likely come from Canada. We also knew that we would be helping people with technical services like SEO and website design. Plus we plan to continuously expand our provisions to further serve you, so the domain was perfect.
Don't Spam, Focus On User Experience
We all hate spam but search engines hate them even more. If you're caught spamming for a keyword or phrase, your website may get banned or removed from their database. And there's a reason why they're harsh on spam and that's because it directly affects their business model! Consumers use search engines as a gateway or portal for information and when that info becomes unreliable, they'll look elsewhere.
So remember that there are three parties involved when doing business online. The search engine companies want their users to come back, consumers want a good experience and you want to close sales. Find a balance and you can win in any venture.
The main benefit of having a keyword-enriched domain name is that it helps your audience understand what you do quickly. For example, take a look at this search for the keyword “buy trucks” on Google below.
Both companies have keywords in their domain names but if someone was searching for a place to buy trucks, the truckandtrailer.ca domain is more relevant! A user or searcher would probably click on that site because the domain makes it appear more pertinent, thereby, encouraging more clicks.
The Importance of a Good Thought Process When Buying a Domain Name
Choose wisely when picking your domain name! We wouldn’t select a business name without thinking about it first. Also, we spend a good amount of time doing research before concluding our decision. You should use the same approach or similar considerations when buying a domain name.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
The most usual issues encountered are domain names being too long, use of low-level or uncommon domain extensions and unnecessary use of hyphens in a domain. Let's take a look at each of them individually.
Long Domain Names
In many instances, we've seen websites with names like thetotallylongdomainname.com. This may not assist in attracting customers at all and in fact, it makes it difficult for the consumer to remember you! It's just too long to type and will most likely discourage visitors from returning to your website. Getting traffic is great but if you have no return visitors, you're hurting your business.
So a lengthy domain name can really hurt your conversions! In general, people don't like typing long names into their Internet browsers. This is largely because they feel it's too much extra effort and in some cases, it's downright laziness. Also, keeping things short reduces the risk of user typos.
A good goal is to aim for 8 characters or less in length and if you have to push it, include relevant keywords in it like our truck example. So often in the physical world, we pick the nearest grocery store or restaurant to visit. On the web, we're more willing to remember and type in the addresses of shorter domain names. Some examples of great domains that you may already know about are: Google.com, Yahoo.com, Bing.com, Ask.com, Cars.com, Quora.com, Amazon.ca etc.
Avoid Unpopular Domain Extensions
A good rule of thumb is to think like your customers. We've all heard of .com, .ca and .org but not everyone knows about .ws, .cc and .to extensions. So consider your business location and target market too. For example, if you want to target the Canadian market, then you should use a .ca. However, the .com extension is universal, so you should always aim for that first.
Hyphens may be interpreted as spam. Something like spa-treatment-in-kemptville.com can deter savvy users. What about this real example of a hyphenated domain: computer-repair-ottawa.ca. It looks like a micro-site strategy, aimed at capturing market in that particular city, but they might be better off doing something like Tech2go.ca/ottawa.
Although it's still helping the user find what they're looking for, what really matters is what the search engines think about it. In the matter of typos, let's assume that your domain is something like be-yourself.com. It would really suck if a returning visitor accidentally types beyourself.com and visits your competitor's website!
Hyphens can work for some businesses but it's generally safer not to use them because they're very unusual. What's working now, doesn't mean that it'll keep working later. Businessman and author, Robert Kiyosaki once noted that when you think long-term rather than short-term, you'll always know good times.