Whether you’ve just started a business or you’re in the process of growing and expanding, your website is one of your most important tools. What happens, then, when someone else has the domain name you need? Since domain names key brand identity, the only solution may be to move to acquire that name through an intellectual property purchase.
Picking A Name
The simplest and most important element of any domain name is ensuring that the name matches your brand. This might mean that your domain name is an exact match to your company name – the way that Macy’s website is macys.com – or it might be a slightly shortened, clarified version. The general idea, though, is that your domain name should be short, clear, unique and meaningful, something that will stick in the minds of potential users and make it easy for them to locate your site.
In addition to matching your domain name to your company name, you’ll also want to make sure your brand is consistent across your social media accounts, advertising, stationery, and other business documents. Your website is just one part of your overall brand identity, and every element should reinforce your concept for your customers.
Top Level Domains
There are several different components to any domain name, including the protocol (http or https), sub-domain prefix (typically the www), the site name, and the top level domain (.com, .net, and others). These top level domains (TLDs), also sometimes referred to as extensions, are key to your website’s success, with the .com, .org, and .net TLDs most highly in demand. It’s in your best interest to purchase one of these domains as opposed to secondary TLDs, like country-code TLDs (.com.au, for example) or a generic TLD such as .lawyer or .sport.
Acquiring A Domain
So what happens when the domain you need is already registered by someone else? When that happens, you need to make a move to acquire it, and that isn’t easy. If you’re going to pursue a domain name acquisition the first step is to hire a skilled third party negotiator to handle the negotiations. Such third parties maintain your confidentiality and can perform the research necessary to make a fair purchase on your behalf, while keeping your identity anonymous. Almost all successful domain name acquisitions take place through a broker.
In addition to representing you in the negotiation process, some brokers can also provide vital assistance in buying social media handles that match your brand. You may also want to purchase other TLDs under the same name. That means you’ll want to purchase the .com, .net, and .org addresses, though experienced entrepreneur Adam Boalt, who once spent $50,000 to acquire the domain govworks.com, now recommends buyers also acquire .co and .io, which have increased in importance.
Remember To Register
Once you’ve selected a domain, you need to register it immediately. Many business development experts actually recommend registering several available domains at first – if you don’t have to acquire them, this is inexpensive – and then dropping the addresses you don’t need over time. This allows you to test out different names and see what customers respond to best.
You’ll also need to register your domain; be sure to identify yourself as the domain owner and administrative contact. Too often domains wind up registered under the name of the web designer or someone else who participated in developing the site, rather than under the owner’s name, and this can create problems later. Your broker will be able to guide you through this process once you’ve acquired the appropriate domain.
While a great domain can help your business rocket to the top of the rankings, a poorly chosen one can be a serious barrier to success. Think carefully about what your business is called and how you’ll identify it online. Acquiring the right name is about staking your claim – where will you position your site within today’s crowded marketplace?