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What is in a domain name?
Your domain name is your address on the internet. It is also a vital part of your brand identity. But how can you choose a domain name that is available and uniquely describes your business?
The Dotcom Dilemma
For years, it was the golden rule of websites that you wanted your domain name to be a short (preferable one word) but descriptive and use the .com TLD (Top-level Domain). Think of sites such as google.com, or amazon.com. For most people, .com has become synonymous with website names. Looking for a new purse? Try purses.com. A new pair of shoes? Try shoes.com (please, use caution using this method in real life, you may see something that you cannot unsee). Your domain name is your address on the internet and will be how many of your future and present customers will find and interact with you. If the events of the past few years have taught us anything, it is that an online presence is vital to keeping your business growing and thriving.
However, the current problem with dotcom domains is that the list of viable domains that are available has become limited. Many valuable dotcom domains are being held by resellers that are asking for exorbitant prices for common word domains. Finding a dotcom that works for your business, one that is not too long or obscure, may be difficult. This is especially true if you are starting a new, small business with limited capital to spend on a domain name.
You could register a domain using one of the other common TLDs, such as .org or .net instead of the dotcom. However, many of the issues you will face finding dotcoms are also present for these TLDs. It is also customary practice for larger businesses to register their domains using all three TLDs. This ensures that no one can piggyback on their domain name. There are also services that many large businesses use that will alert them if someone registers a domain like their domain. Depending on the size of the business, you may be in for some litigation if they feel threatened.
Another potential issue of registering the .net or .org version of your preferred domain, when the dotcom is taken by another business, is your customers may use the wrong domain TLD when trying to contact you. If your website is example.net and someone else owns example.com, your customers may search “example.com” when looking for your site, ending up at your competition’s website. While it is becoming less prevalent, many people still think websites all end in .com. Thankfully, this is becoming outdated.
The TLD Takeover
So, without using to a one-word dotcom, how are you to create a website that is unmistakably yours? Well, luckily, there are now numerous other TLD’s that you can choose from to help people find your business and let people know what your business does. These range from profession specific TLDs to business types or hobbies. There are too many different TDLs to list them all here. You can find the official TLD list on the ICANN website here. Regardless of what type of profession, hobby, or business you are looking to create a website for, you should be able to find an alternative TLD that will work for you. If you a Lawyer, you should register a .law domain? Do you repair roofs for a living? How about trying a .repair domain?
Sounds great! But, before you go off registering all your domains, know that not all TLDs are created equally. Many TLDs are managed by different entities or institutions. Some TLDs also have certain requirements that must be met before you are allowed to register your domain name. The easiest example of this is most country coded TLDs require that you be a citizen of that country. For example, you cannot register a .ca domain unless you can prove you are a citizen of Canada. The same is true of most country TLDs.
This is also true for most profession based TLDs. For another example, the .law TLD mentioned earlier requires that you be a lawyer (or courts of law, law schools and legal regulators). The same is true of the .lawyer and .legal TLDs. However, you do not have to prove you are a pizza place to register a .pizza domain. Also, be aware that the cost to register domains varies by TLD, which is set by the TLD operator/registry. Some specialty TLDs can get expensive. Many large corporations register their own TLDs as well, such as .apple and Amazon’s .read. You will not be able to register a domain with these TLDs, no matter how nicely you ask them.
The Domain Debates
Now that we know that you do not necessarily need a dotcom domain name to be successful, how should you choose for your domain name? With all these alternate TLDs, how should you choose a domain name that works for you?
According to research done by Marc Köhlbrugge, founder of Betalist.com ; start-ups are moving away from the dotcom golden rule. This may be for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is because of the cost and availability of dotcom domains. When you are setting up a new business, it is not feasible to spend a sizable portion of cash on a dotcom domain.
Many new startups are registering domains with a descriptive domain name and one of the newer TLDs, such as .realty. This has many benefits. If you see the domain johndoe.realty, you can guess right away what field Mr. Doe is in and what his website is going to contain. Or, if your business is selling high tech dew flickers, then maybe dewflicker.tech would serve you better then hightechdewflickers.com.
Of course, even with the addition of all these TLDs, dotcom is still king, and it will be for the near future. Of those startups that are still registering dotcom domains, the trend is to use a two-word, descriptive domain name, using verbs such as “buy”, “get”, or “join”, such as buydewflickers.com. This may help you find an available dotcom domain that is not too long, but same as what we have mentioned above, may cause confusion if it too like a popular existing domain.
Originally, researchers believed that many of these start-ups planned to use the non-dotcom domain until it became feasible to purchase or secure the related dotcom. However, currently trends are showing that many of these businesses decide to keep their new domains and not to bother with the dotcoms at all. As the popularity and use of other TLDs increase, the golden rule of domains is becoming less important.
The Registry Rundown
Now that we know more about current and past domain trends, let’s try to answer the original question. What is in a domain name? Your domain name is not only your address on the web, but your brand. It should be as much a part of your business as your business name. It should be short, concise, easy to remember, and should describe you and your business. It does not need to be a dotcom, but if you can find one that works for your business, you should register it as well.
Lastly, the most important thing about registering a domain name, is to make sure it does not expire. Losing your domain name can be a disaster, costing you your time, money, search engine history and good name.
Deluxe Hosting offers a variety of TLD name extensions. Find and purchase your custom business domain name here.