First, to secure the right domain for your new digital business, you need to know that not all domain names are created equal. There are quite a few factors that you need to think about when securing the best domain name for your new digital business.
As a digital business broker, I have helped sell countless businesses and have seen firsthand the role that a domain name plays in the value of a business.
Whether you realize it, the domain name that you choose plays a critical role in how valuable your business will be — both while you own it, and for an investor should you ever decide to sell.
Here are 11 lessons that I’ve learned about what domain names mean to a business over the long haul. Consider each of them when you’re securing the right domain name for your new digital business.
#1 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Start early in the process.
If you have already named your business, you may not have started thinking about your domain name early enough.
It’s unfortunate, but many business owners register their business name, only to find out later that the domain name they wanted for their business has already been taken. You can try to get the registered owner to sell it, but often they want a crazy amount of money for it.
Some investors will monitor which businesses get registered and buy the related domain names as a “squatting” strategy. These domain brokers are known for controlling domains that business owners would typically want to use.
To avoid this hassle, you’ll want to make sure the domain is available before you register your business. It will save you a ton of headaches (and money) down the road.
If the domain name you want isn’t available, it may be worth reconsidering your business name. This can also help you avoid potential copyright issues that you couldn’t foresee before you started.
#2 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Consider your branding.
If there’s one factor that billion-dollar digital businesses have in common, it’s that their domain name is easy to remember and it speaks directly to their branding.
Branding refers to the messaging that your company will use. The personality you’ll give the company, and the type of feeling that you want your customers to get when they think about your business.
Word of mouth and organic marketing are incredibly powerful. They only work if your visitors are able to get your domain name out of their mouth without having to explain how to spell it.
Once your business reaches the point where your customers are talking about your products and services, having a unique and memorable domain name will work hand-in-hand with your organic marketing.
#3 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Remember, .com stands for commercial.
There’s nothing wrong with registering your business to extensions other than .com, as you’ll see in just a second. Even so, you do want to think about the fact that .com stands for commercial and refers to business domain names.
On top of that, most people inherently understand that a .com domain is the first type of domain they should visit when they’re looking for a business.
If someone mentions your business name to one of their friends or family, they are immediately going to assume that your website should be located at your business name with a .com extension.
Again, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t register other extensions, too, but the .com extension is currently one of the most important that you can register for your business.
Which brings me to my next point…
#4 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Consider registering multiple extensions.
Just because a .com extension is the most important and most memorable, you shouldn’t necessarily neglect other extensions, either.
Other extensions, like .net, .org, and even some of the more boutique extensions, should all be considered. The goal for registering them should be to protect your brand and your business from potential squatters and scammers.
Scammers have duplicated a company’s website and rebuilt it on a separate extension. They then attempt to scam unsuspecting visitors into believing that they are indeed the actual company.
This can create a public relations nightmare for your business. On top of that, if someone does register a separate extension for your business you will need to go through the courts to have their domain name taken down.
Save yourself a headache. Once you have decided on the domain name you want, think about picking up other extensions that are available for it, too.
#5 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Follow the domain name best practices.
When it comes to registering a domain name for your business, there are a few generally unspoken rules that you’ll need to follow.
The perfect domain name is going to support your business, but it will also:
● Be short and to the point.
● Contain minimum words that are easy to spell.
● Be unique and easy to remember.
● Be friendly to your SEO marketing campaign.
● Relevant to your business, products, or services.
It may not always be possible to find a domain name that fits into each of these criteria. Yet, this checklist is a good starting point for the different areas you want to address. It will help you get started brainstorming a list of potential domain names that you can register for your business.
#6 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Think about search engine optimization.
I just touched on making sure that your domain name is friendly to your SEO marketing strategy. But let’s dive deeper into it — in case you’re unfamiliar with SEO.
If you’re starting a local-based business, it’s worth it to include your location in the domain name.
If you’re starting a nationwide business, think about the keywords that your visitors would type into the search engines if they were looking for your website.
Now, this tip comes with a bit of a caveat. While you want to make sure you’re thinking about SEO when you buy your domain name, you do not want to start stuffing keywords into the domain name itself.
At a later date, you can create new pages on the website that have these keywords in them, if you want to stick primarily to registering the domain name as your business’ name.
#7 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Register your name as the owner.
Some business owners will assign the task of buying the domain name and setting up the website to one of their employees. What typically happens, though, is the employee will register the domain name into their own name, without thinking about the consequences.
If that employee leaves the business, you can no longer make edits to the domain name in the registrar without having them present or having them sign the domain name over to you.
If the domain name isn’t in your name, it isn’t actually yours.
If you are concerned about privacy, you can enable WHOIS privacy on most domain registrars, so that the information you used to register it with is not available to the public.
#8 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Set up automatic renewal.
One problem among online business owners is forgetting to renew the domain name they’ve registered for their business.
While in most cases, this is only a small problem and can be remedied by logging into the registrar and clicking renew, in some cases it can be a huge issue.
Many domain name brokers and domainers will wait for business domain names to expire in an effort to quickly buy them up before the business owner realizes their mistake. Once they own the domain name, the real problems begin.
These domainers will reach out and let the business owner know that it’s going to cost them to buy the domain name back. This fee can be anywhere from $1,000 to upwards of $10,000 or even $100,000 in the case of bigger businesses.
You can avoid this issue completely by simply turning on auto-renew and registering the domain name for 10 years at a time. It’s a small price to pay upfront for long-term security.
#9 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Don’t use dashes, hyphens, numbers, or abbreviations.
This tip is a mix of making sure your domain name is brandable and memorable. But this also ensures that it’s easy on your SEO campaign and even easier for your customers to spread the word about your business.
If your business has multiple words and that domain name is available, do not start adding hyphens. On the same token, do not start adding numbers unless your business has numbers in the name.
You also want to avoid using abbreviated words because they do not translate well when someone is trying to say your domain name in a conversation. People will attempt to type out the entire word instead of the abbreviation.
#10 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Look into the domain’s past.
This tip covers you on two different bases — copyright infringement and SEO.
If you register a domain name, you could be infringing on another company’s copyrights without realizing you’re actually doing it.
To give you an example, I had a client wanting to sell a business. He had owned the domain name for more than 3 years and decided it was time to sell. Except, he couldn’t sell.
It was brought to my attention that the domain name he registered was actually the same name as a non-profit organization, and they chose not to register the domain name. Upon realizing this, the client had to move his business to a new domain name and could no longer use the name he registered.
You also want to make sure that shady and blackhat SEOs haven’t used the domain name as part of a backlinking or scam operation. If it has, it could be nearly impossible for you to rank in the organic search results.
#11 – Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Don’t pay too much.
There are quite a few domain name registrars currently available. Most of them are reasonably priced, but some will gouge domain names that they consider to be “premium”.
For a typical registrar, a .com domain name should cost between $7 and $15. This depends on what add-ons you get, whether they charge for privacy, and any other fees they may decide to add.
For some registrars, if their algorithm believes that the domain name you’re trying to register is “premium”, they could tell you that it will cost $1,000 or even more just to register it.
When that happens, you can go to another registrar and pick the same domain name and register it for between $7 to $15. You want to avoid paying too much for the domain, especially if you’re going to register multiple extensions.
Secure the Right Domain for Your New Digital Business – Your Domain Name is Your Storefront.
Buying the domain name for your new business is critical because your domain name is literally your business’ address. It’s the storefront where your customers are going to find you, and tell their friends and family members where to find you.
As long as you follow the 11 different tips I’ve given you here, coming to a decision on the domain you want to use in your business becomes significantly easier to do.
About the Author
Jock Purtle is the CEO of Digital Exits, LLC, a company focused on helping entrepreneurs buy and sell businesses. He is considered an industry leader and expert on valuations of high growth internet companies, website valuations, and website brokerage. He has been featured and quoted in publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Business Insider, Inc.com, Wired, CBS News, and more.