When you start a business, part of the process should include doing a search for a domain name. While every business may not need a website, most businesses can usually benefit from having one. Plus, even if you don't intend to use your domain, registering it is an important step in protecting your brand.
If you are thinking about registering a domain name, or having difficulty deciding on one, follow these steps to find and register the best domain name for your business.
Step 1: Start Early in the Business Development Process
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The best time to look for a domain name is when you are naming your business. If your business will have a significant online presence, then your business name may even be influenced by the domain names that are available. Thinking about domain names early is a step in the right direction when it comes to branding and protecting your brand.
To get started, use this How to Name a Business Guide to walk through the business naming process.
Step 2: Remember This Domain Name Checklist
There are a few universal rules when it comes to choosing the right domain name. Not only do you want it to support your brand, but the perfect domain name will also be:
- Easy to spell
- Unique and memorable
- Relevant to the information provided on the website
You may not be able to find a domain name that fits all of these criteria, but you can use the list above as a checklist to help identify the best domain name, once you have brainstormed a list of possibilities.
Step 3: Use the Right Domain Name Tools
You can search for available domain names through individual domain name registrars (the companies that manage the registration and management of domain names), or you can use separate online tools that will help you search for keywords, possible domains, and variations, while checking to see what is available. These tools can save you a lot of time during the process.
Step 4: Start with the Obvious, but Be Open-Minded
You should search for your ideal domain first, even if it's so common that it seems like a long shot. Even if it is not available, this will give you a starting point for exploring appropriate alternatives.
If the domain name you had in mind is not available, use the tools mentioned above to brainstorm possible alternatives. Then, check each possible domain name against the checklist in Step 2. This part of the process can take a long time; consider enlisting the help of everyone involved in the development of your business to streamline the process.
Step 5: Understand Top-Level Domains
A top-level domain, or TLD, is the part of the URL that follows the domain name. For example, .com, .net and .org are TLDs. When searching for a domain name for a for-profit business, you should start your search with .com. If you have trouble finding a .com domain that works for your business, you can move on to other TLDs, such as .net, .info or even .biz.
Keep in mind, though, that straying from a .com domain can make your domain harder to remember. You should also make sure you visit the website of the preferred .com domain, if it exists, before registering the counterparts. You don't want to create confusion and increased competition by promoting a similar business, with a similar domain name. This could be harmful to your brand.
Step 6: Register It Immediately
Once you find a domain name that works, don't hesitate. Register it immediately. Even if you are not completely sure it's the perfect domain for your business, it's better to secure it while you look for other ideas. While you certainly don't want to register 50 domain names you will never use, the process is affordable enough to be able to grab a handful that may work so you have options. Plus, alternate domain names that are related to your brand can also be used for stand-alone landing pages, special offers and specific products.
Additional tip: When you register your domain name, you will be asked by most registrars if you want to register the complementary top-level domains that go with your chosen domain. This is a good idea in many cases, again to protect your brand and have options later on.