Small business websites are no longer an optional marketing tool. Your customers expect you to have a web presence for your small business so they can quickly and easily find information such as your location, your hours and your phone number.
If you are just starting your business, the perfect time to register a domain name for your website is during the business naming process. The availability of a certain domain may actually play a role in the name of your business.
But what happens if your business is already up and running, or the perfect domain name for your business just isn't available? Here are four things you can do.
Try an Abbreviated Variation
It may not be ideal, but creating a domain name that is an abbreviated version of your business name can be an effective way to find a good domain name when most of the obvious options are taken. Let's say your business name is Smith and Lewis Plumbing. If all obvious domains are taken, you can try an abbreviation such as SLPlumbing.com or even SandLP.com.
Use a Catchphrase, Slogan or Keyword
If there isn't an abbreviated option available, you can register a domain name that encompasses a slogan or catchphrase such as PlumbingDoneRight.com. You can even use an SEO keyword phrase that integrates your location with something like PortlandPlumbing.com. Take some time to brainstorm options and check to see what is available.
See If the Domain Is For Sale
If your desired domain is already registered, there is still a chance that it is available for sale. Go to whois.sc and do a search for the domain. The results will show you who the domain is registered to and how to contact him or her (there is usually an email address listed).
Send an email to the domain owner to see if the address is for sale so you can determine if it is a possibility.
Set Up Domain Monitoring
A registered domain doesn't mean it is unavailable indefinitely. There are people who register a tremendous number of domains and then "park" them to see if anyone is interested in purchasing them. If the registration period expires, these domains become available for purchase. Using a domain monitoring service such as DomainTools Monitor will let you know immediately if your desired domain name become available so you can register it.
If you find that the .com of your ideal domain is registered, but there are other top-level domains (TLDs) still available (.net, .biz, .co) it may be tempting to use one of those for your business website address. Don't do it. Having an address that is so similar to another website can dilute your brand and cause confusion with your customers. In fact, when you do find a great domain name, you should register every TLD for multiple years with an auto renew feature that is generally available from most domain registrars. This will save you a headache in the future and make sure that your brand is secure.
Finding a great domain name can be challenging, but take your time and you will be able to find a web address that fits your small business perfectly.