Registering a domain name is much like registering a business name and should be approached with many of the same principles in mind. However, not all business names make great domain names and there are various factors to consider when you first look at getting your domain name registered.
Below are some key pointers to assist you in selecting and acquiring your domain
- Select and register your domain name before you start having your website developed.
- Select a name that is as short as possible, easy to remember, hard to misspell or mis-type, easy on the tongue, easily understandable when spoken over a bad telephone line. Some domain names are very hard to interpret from the spoken form without going into added explanations that could lead to error. For example, “games4u” may seem like a good name for a games website, but what about when you are trying to tell someone the address? You now end up saying something like, “The domain is games4u.co.za. That is the number 4 and the letter U – not the full word.” Trust us, you could end up explaining this over and over again and a large number of people will still get it wrong. On the other hand, a name like “gamesdepot” that uses no numbers or letter substitutes will be a lot easier to convey verbally, with much less room for error.
Also take care with words that sound very close to other words or have more than one way of spelling them. Example, if you speak the word, “gad”, it can also be interpreted as “bag”, “bad”, “dab”, “gab”, “gag” … I could go on, but you get the idea. Now try to spell it and “b” sounds like &wuot;d” to complicate it even more.
Take some time on this aspect of your name. It will be worth it.
- Ideally, in addition to the above, select a domain name that either is your business name or is descriptive of your business.
A domain name that contains your main keyword will have added benefit over a domain name that is seemingly unrelated. There is a lot of talk about this being a critical factor with search engines. That’s not true. It is an added bonus and should not outweigh all other factors.
- To hyphenate or not. Here’s the thing: hyphenated names are better for search engines but harder for humans. Many people do not know what a hyphen is and when you try to describe it, there is room for confusion between a hyphen, a slash and an underscore. – Take our word for it!
If you have a name that contains more than one word, we recommend registering both variations if they are available. Use the hyphenated version for the development of the website and park the human friendly name. This way your domain name will satisfy both search engines and humans.
- Choosing the correct extension is another factor that can influence your website’s ultimate performance and we are often asked for advice on which extension is best. The answer is dependent on what type of site you are launching and who your target market is. If, for example, you are launching a website that aims at selling to South Africans, then make your first choice a co.za extension. If you are however launching a tourism website that is targeting primarily USA visitors, opt for a .com if the name is available. A word of caution – if you are targeting a non-English speaking community (eg, Germans) then make sure your site is written in their language. Simply registering a foreign domain for your target country is not going to do much for your business.
- The question of registering multiple domain extensions. This is a controversial topic and there are various considerations, budget being just one. Registering numerous extensions gives you the distinct advantage that somebody else cannot ride on the back of your success later and keeps your options open for future developments. It can also give you an advantage with search engines IF each extension has a unique website, targeted to a specific market. Example, .co.za for your local market and .com for your international market, with the content in each site slanted more towards the target market’s needs.
Certain extensions also have greater value with search engines, like .org.
- Once you have decided on a few domain name options, check availability immediately and don’t assume that nobody else could possibly have thought of it already. There is nothing more disappointing than coming up with the perfect name, only to discover that someone else registrered it a few days prior.
If this is the first time that you are checking availability, take care not to get confused by the way that the results are returned. If the domain has already been registered then the results will state that it is not available and offer a lookup function. You will also be given the option to transfer this domain rather than register it.
We receive a large number of orders for domains that in fact belong to someone else because the person did not understand that the transfer option can only be selected if you have previously registered the domain. These orders are legally null and void.