Domain Name Registration
Never register your domain name through your web hosting company however attractive the deal might appear. Why? Well one day you may wish to transfer your domain name to another web hosting provider and your current web host may not take kindly to this. It is not unusual in such cases for the web host to charge a transfer fee and even in extreme cases to unequivocally refuse the transfer of your domain name. If such a situation arises you can report the offending party to the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Another thing to consider when registering your domain name is not to rely solely on your domain name register to ensure that the domain name you have in mind is available and does not infringe on someone else’s trademark rights (unless you enjoy being sued). To be doubly sure your domain name has no trademark infringement issues, after conducting a search for its availability on your domain name register’s website, you can also check at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) http://www.uspto.gov.
When registering your domain name it’s a good idea to register it for more than one year. The reason being that, other than the usual discounts you get for multi-year registrations from most domain name registers, Google (and perhaps the other search engines) consider multi-year registered domains as less likely to be spam sites. Consequently, right off the bat your site will have a search engine advantage (at least with Google), such as a shorter evaluation period in the Google Sandbox.
A final note about domain name registration; there are plenty of domain name registration companies out there, all eager and equally willing to register your new name. Domain name registration prices range from as little as $10 a year up to $35 per year and beyond. Generally there is little point in opting for the more expensive registers because you more or less get the same service. In fact some of the cheaper domain name registration companies provide better quality service.
However whatever service you use, make sure that your domain name is registered in your name. Some less scrupulous domain registration services have been known to register new domains with their own information. You can verify that your domain is registered with your particulars at: http://www.internic.net/whois.html.
The Domain Name Game
So what kind of domain name do you want? Do you want to pick a domain name incorporated with a targeted keyword, or do you want to take the memorable-brand route that the likes of Google, Yahoo and Amazon (to name but a few) have done with astounding success. Well, if your website is going to be business related or involved in some form of commerce it makes sense to have a well-searched-for-keyword incorporated within the domain name. The majority of online businesses are still found through search engine queries. By and large though, a good rule of thumb is to incorporate the most searched for term (for your market) in your domain name.
The shorter your domain name the more memorable it’s going to be. However you’ll discover that most one-word/two-word domain names have been snatched up already. One alternative you’ve got is to hyphenate your targeted keyword with another word. The jury is still out about hyphens though, but most seo experts concur that hyphenating a string of words makes a long domain name more search engine friendly. The downside is that when it comes to word-of-mouth dissemination most folks won’t bother including those pesky hyphens, with the resulting consequence that intended referrals to your domain could end up on your competitor’s doorstep. So as you can see, the whole process of naming your domain is a fine balancing act.
Cutesy Artsy Domain Names
There’s a budding artist in all of us waiting for just the right moment and place to show the world we are the new Leonardo da Vinci. Be that as it may, but naming your domain is not the place to express that inner artist. Avoid cutesy names interspersed with numbers in place of words (e.g., 4 instead of for), they’ll only confuse potential customers and torment you with heaps of regret somewhere down the road. In fact the best rule of thumb is to avoid numbers in your domain name altogether. However, if on the other hand your domain functions merely as a cyber-platform to let an uncaring world know you exist, then by all means let loose!
Bottom line…your domain name is your online identity, so try to choose something that is memorable, fares well with the search engines, and also inspires confidence and respect.
To Dot.com or Not to Dot.com
These days there’re more and more choices for domain name extensions. This is great news because it is getting increasingly difficult to find a good domain name ending in .com that runs under twenty letters (okay that might be a wee bit of an exaggeration but you get the point). However the drawback with using anything other than a .com extension is human nature. You see people are creatures of conditioning and habit, and given a choice of precisely similar domain names, (other than the extension) you can bet most of us will instinctively beeline for the domain name with the .com extension–Without question the .com extension is the most recognizable.
Also think twice before settling for a top level country code domain such as co.uk. Unless you are located in that region and ship primarily within the area, such a domain name could have a negative impact on your business. Think about it…a potential customer based in the U.S. or another part of the world is not going to relish the prospect of forking out a mini fortune for shipping and handling fees when they can easily find a more local competitor. In the same vein try not to regionalize your domain name (unless your business caters to a market found only within that region) because you’ll probably lose potential customers who reside elsewhere.
On a final note, if you anticipate a lot of your traffic is going to come via word-of-mouth referral, you might consider registering similar domain names and redirecting to your main url (e.g. [http://www.africasafarizone.com] and [http://www.africansafarizone.com]) before cyber-squatters (people who register domain names in hopes of selling them for a profit) get wind of your growing success and beat you to it.