Selecting the Right Domain Name - Part I

posted Dec 30, 2011, 5:46 PM by Neil Levine   [ updated Feb 3, 2012, 8:27 AM ]
It seems like a simple thing, but alas it is NOT.  Choosing the optimum Domain Name for your small business or organization has many factors to be considered.  In this series of articles, we will cover some of the nuances and factors to be considered when choosing a Domain Name for your small business or organization.  At Bit Genesis Software, we have many years of experience helping our customers with this, and have observed that selecting the wrong Domain Name is often the first (and most common) mistake that inexperienced owners make.  In addition, it can often be a costly and time consuming mistake to correct once the Domain Name is deployed and used by your business or organization.

In this article we will address a couple of questions regarding domain name selection:
Top Level Domains
Q. Should I choose a .com, .net, .biz, .org for my Domain Name?  Does it actually matter?

A. In short:  YES!  It really DOES matter.  First let us digress with a bit of background info...

These domain name suffixes are actually formally known as Top Level Domains (TLDs). The list of available TLDs and their identity/purpose is controlled by an international organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).  Periodically ICANN approves new TLDs, some which are restricted, others which are available to anyone to register without restrictions upon their organization, business, etc.  There are also a large number "country code" Top Level Domains (such as .us for the USA).  

So, here are a few reasons why the Top Level Domain in which you register your site with really DOES matter:
  1. Although, some of the more recent Top Level Domains have received some traction over the last few years, the most common by far is still .com (which accounts for more than 50% of all websites on the internet).  Other Top Level Domains are FAR less common (i.e. in the single digits of all websites).  
  2. Most customers who are looking for your site will just assume it is a .com.  If you chose a .net or .biz it is quite likely that some of them will navigate to the wrong location, not remember the URL for your site and/or not find you on the internet.  
  3. Assuming that one of your competitors actually owns the .com domain name of your site, some of your customers will inadvertently land at your competitor's site instead of yours!  
  4. Should you give out an email address which your customers need to remember (and later type in) in order to send you an email, some of them will not enter the correct suffix and their email will bounce or never get to you
  5. Some of the Top Level Domains are not restricted, but they do have certain "connotations" associated with them which might contradict with the purpose of your site, business or organization.  For example, .org is unrestricted, but it was originally intended for non-profit organizations and is still largely associated with that purpose today.  Given this, would you really want your "for-profit" business registered using the .org Top Level Domain?
There are additional factors to consider, but in-general we typically recommend that our customers select a .com domain name for their business, and only select one of the other Top Level Domains if they are a different type of organization (such as a non-profit).  

Q. Should I buy my domain name in multiple Top Level Domains if they are available?

A. This depends upon your budget and a few other factors...

This used to be a more common practice which is still promoted by many domain registrars today in order to "protect" the domain name for your organization or business and of course, to generate more sales and $$$ for them.  Imagine for example if typing "www.apple.com" into your browser took you to Apple's website, but if instead you typed "www.apple.net" it took you directly to Apple's competitor's site (assuming they had such a thing).  For a little extra money you could potentially buy both: MyCrazyBusinessName.com and also MyCrazyBusinessName.net, possible even  MyCrazyBusinessName.org and MyCrazyBusinessName.biz if they were also available.  This would block any of your potential competitors from grabbing those domain names and capitalizing on someone inadvertently landing at their site when they actually intended to search for or navigate to yours.  In theory it sounds great, but it can also get very expensive and result in a combinatorial explosion of domains which you now need to buy.  

Let's look at another example:

Let's say that your business is a small bakery called:  "Snookie's Cookies Shop".

Now you want to buy some internet domains for your cookie shop.  Let's assume that all your choices are available.  First you start with the most obvious one: snookiescookiesshop.com.  It's a bit long, awkward to spell, but its your business name so you buy it.

Now you defensively choose to buy a few other domains so that no one else does: snookiescookiesshop.netsnookiescookiesshop.biz

Then you realize someone might think that: snookiescookies.com should also take them to your site.  Maybe even: snookies.com.  Now what about the .net and the .biz versions?  How about someone who forgets that the "cookies" in your name is plural?  Do you buy all those domains also?  Now you can see just how this quickly this can become a really expensive proposition!

So ultimately, this is not such a simple question to answer.  At Bit Genesis Software, we typically recommend that you secure the .com domain for your business or a different top-level domain if you have another type of organization.  Depending upon some additional factors, such as they type of business you have, the name of your business, number of competing businesses you have in your market segment or local area we may recommend that you also purchase some additional domain names.  If so, we provide a detailed explanation and justification for the additional costs and we set up those additional domain names so that they redirect to your primary domain.  For example, you won't have to create a website at www.snookiescookiesshop.com as well as all the other domains you purchase.  We create your website at www.snookiescookiesshop.com and configure the other domains so that if a customer was to type in: www.snookiescookies.com or www.snookies.com it will seamlessly redirect their browser to your main site.

See our next article in the series regarding Domain Name Selection:


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