Domain Names Explained
Choosing a domain name
The amount of planning and strategic thought that goes into choosing a domain name is very similar to choosing a company name. If you are an online business, your domain name choice is more important than your company name since this is where your clients will find and interact with your business.
Your domain name should be memorable, preferably short and easy to pronounce and therefore easy to spell. Your clients and customers need to remember it and type it correctly into their search bar to land on your website first time; the smallest typo could take them to another site. So, stay away from novel and irregular spellings for your domain name.
When most of our clients start a new business they will register the company first and then build their website. This sequence means that the company name will come first so we recommend that your domain name be the same as your company name for two reasons: first, most customers assume that your company name and domain name are the same and secondly, your company and website are 2 separate components which together will build your brand.
If you have a very long company name, you can abbreviate the domain name. For example First National Bank uses www.fnb.co.za or Amalgamated Banks of South Africa uses www.absa.co.za. The rule when it comes to domain names is that shorter is always better, as it is easier to remember, quicker to type and reduces the chances of making a typo.
The downside is that most short domain names of less than five characters are already taken. In fact, currently, the average length of a domain name is around 12 characters.
So what happens if your domain name is already taken? You do have a few options. First I would try a different top level domain extension which is the last letters after the dot, most common in South Africa is .co.za. This is definitely the recommended TLD extension if your business operates in South Africa, but if your preferred name is already taken you could try the .com TLD extension. The .com TLD is always more expensive and generally geared toward the international market.
If your domain name with a different TLD is still not available you need to be a bit more creative. You could play with a thesaurus to get synonyms related to the objective or purpose of your business.. or you could also try phases as they are easy to remember even if they are longer to type. For example, a candle manufacturer could use lightmyfire.co.za
Many businesses have more than one domain name which is done to secure related or similar domain names. This is to protect them from their competitors registering those domains. The domains can be set to point to the same website.
There are unscrupulous people who make a living from registering domain names with the intention of reselling them at a profit. This is a practise known as cybersquatting. If they have your preferred domain name you could purchase it from them but be prepared to pay a hefty price.
My final word on choosing a domain name is that it is only valid for a year. There is an annual fee due to the Registrar to maintain your ownership. We will notify you when it is due and can add the renewal to our debit order system. We have a domain name checker on our website to test if your preferred domain name is available, you can access it at www.swiftcyberstudio.co.za . If you would like us to secure it for you please get in touch with us and we can get your business online, starting with your company emails.
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The best video – ever! It was very helpful. I recently purchased my first domain name and had a few more questions. Is it ok to ask here or through email? Thanks!