Online Marketing: How to Register Domain Names

By Alexander Hiam

Success in online marketing depends a lot on the domain name. If you don’t have the right domain names (also called web addresses or URLs) already, you need to create one or more new ones.

Select candidate names based on your off-web brand name, which can be combined with a descriptive word or short phrase if need be to make it more unique. To test the availability of a possible domain name, go to sites such as register.com and enter the domain name in question to see whether it’s available.

As you search for potential domain names for your hub site, remember that a good domain name has the following characteristics:

  • Relates to your business or brand: You can register the domain name www.lookmanohands.com if someone else hasn’t already. It’s catchy. It’s amusing. Should you use it for your website address? No. It fails the first test because it doesn’t relate to your business or brand.

  • Is memorable: Using your company or brand name makes the website memorable to anyone who knows the name of your business. (For instance, customers can easily remember that Crayola’s website address is www.crayola.com.)

    Or you can simply combine two or three easy words and make the string into a memorable URL. A firm selling UV filtering glass and Plexiglas for framing valuable art could choose a sufficiently relevant and memorable domain name like www.uvprotectionglass.com.

  • Is unique: If your company name is similar to others, add a unique term or word in your domain name to make it more unique. For example, Ford Insurance Agency has to avoid accidentally losing web visitors to Ford Motor Company’s www.ford.com, so the agency uses www.fordinsurance.net.

    Also, make sure your domain name doesn’t violate someone’s trademark. Check web addresses against a database of trademarks (in the United States, you can do this search for free by going to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, clicking on the Trademarks link at the top of the page, and clicking on Trademark Search or ask a lawyer to do a more detailed analysis if you think you may run into an issue.

    The trademarked domain name you want may be available, meaning you can register it at a site like register.com because nobody else has yet, but if you begin using it, the owner of the trademark may sue you.

  • Morphs into other identities, such as your e-mail names and a blog name: Assume that you’ll be creating domain-name-based e-mail identities (so don’t pick a long or awkward domain name), and at least one general-purpose blog in which you share your expertise and news of interest to prospective customers.

    Pick a blog name that’s based on or relates clearly to your domain name for your website so it’s easy to recall and see the relationship between both. Then purchase the blog name (at a host such as WordPress, Bluehost, or iPage).

    Many web-hosting platforms now support both websites and blogs, making the integration of them easier than it used to be. For example, FatCow offers inexpensive hosting for website development; integration with WordPress for blogs; and easy links to promote the site on Google, Bing, Facebook, YellowPages, nextiva, and so on.

    It also has the unique feature of its hosting equipment being run entirely on solar and wind power, a good match to alternative and sustainable marketers. Aside from any special promo pricing you may find, expect to spend around $10 a month for hosting, with shopping carts often costing additional but generally with unlimited disk space.

After you have your website registered, take steps to protect your new domain name. Purchase options such as multi-year registration and protection against lapsing due to late payment. Consider purchasing private domain registration, in which your host doesn’t give out your personal details as the owner of the site.

Also, and this is especially important, if you can afford to, purchase extremely close domains — that is, pick up domain names with different extensions . If an obvious misspelling for your site exists, register that, too. The alternate names can be set up as simple redirects, and they’ll keep a competitor from owning a domain that may receive some of the traffic you generate.