Your online brand identity is a culmination of many factors such as the look and feel of your website, the tone of voice, and the kind of images that you use in your digital marketing efforts. 

While businesses will spend a significant amount of time and money on crafting messages and creatives that are engaging, appealing, and reflective of their brand’s personality, I often see them overlooking the most basic and important of aspects—the domain name. Your domain name is not just a URL, it is the very backbone of your digital identity. 

Think about it – the first step to building an online business starts with a domain name. It forms the foundation of your online presence and hence, deserves that kind of time and attention.

In fact, I’ve adopted this very fact and applied it to my core marketing philosophy Return On Relationship. From www.returnonrelationship.com, I’ve now moved to www.ROR.online.

I chose a .ONLINE domain name for multiple reasons:

  • It gave me a short and simple domain name (www.ROR.com was unavailable)
  • It (.ONLINE) has a global appeal (the word ‘online’ is understood in over 25 languages)
  • It is meaningful and it establishes that the best place to reach me is online.
  • It’s a lot more memorable and less prone to any spelling errors.

New domain extensions such as .ONLINE are a valuable part of the future of the Internet. Good domain names are not easily available and even if they are, they’re likely to come at a premium price. However, with domain extensions such as .ONLINE, you can build a fantastic and meaningful online presence for your small business.

To further explain this, let’s look at a few reasons why you should give your domain name a good amount of thought before you register it.

1. A good Domain name increases access to your business

As a consumer, the first thing you do when you need something is search for it online, whether it’s planning to buy a car, go on a holiday or get a haircut. Without a website and a domain name, you stand to lose out on a large proportion of potential customers who are searching online, where everyone goes first now, for the products and services you offer. 

In fact, according to Google’s 2019 research review, mobile searches including “where to buy + near me” have grown by over 200% for the last two years. This means that small or local businesses can truly soar above their competitors by building an online presence around a carefully chosen domain name.

For example, a possible search could be ‘guitar lessons online near me’. Here a domain name such as www.learnguitar.online will have a strong chance of standing out compared to any other long, incomprehensible domain name.

2. A good domain name reflects you are digital savvy

Irrespective of the nature and size of your business, a catchy domain name coupled with a user-friendly website creates a great first impression. It conveys that you are a digitally-savvy entrepreneur who is innovative, abreast of all the latest digital developments, and ready to embrace all the growth opportunities an online presence affords. 

It’s this very quality that makes you stand out from your competition and build your own unique space on the Internet.

3. A good domain name adds credibility to your business

A generic web address provided by your internet service provider or a free web-hosting platform does little to inspire confidence in your brand. For instance, a URL such as www.serviceprovider.com/brandname might give the impression that you are not yet a well-established business, or worse still, you’re not a legitimate entity, to begin with. 

On the other hand, a domain name that you own, such as www.brandname.online, adds credibility to your business, even if you’re running a one-man show as a solopreneur.

4. A good domain name establishes your niche

Keyword-rich and descriptive domain names that include your brand name do exactly what a domain name is supposed to do: they clearly establish who you are and set the right expectations among your website visitors even before they actually visit your website.

For example, www.tutorsforintruments.com could be a website about hiring tutors or for tutors to find jobs or anything. However, a domain name such as www.learnkeyboard.online literally tells you what the website is about. It sets the correct expectations right from the start.

How to pick the right domain name

Another great quality of a .ONLINE domain name is that it’s perfect for any industry or project. No matter what you’re building, a .ONLINE domain name will only add value to it. 

However, there’s a lot more that goes into choosing a domain name. Here are five simple tips to keep in mind when choosing a domain name.

1. Make it creative

A domain name that contributes towards building your brand must communicate what you do and what you stand for. As far as possible, try to pick a domain name that matches your brand name and/or your industry. 

Avoid going for something too generic and bland that may get lost in the crowd, such as www.yourecofriendly.com or www.seetheworld.com. Instead, opt for something that represents your brand’s personality or its USP, such as www.ecofriendlyhome.online or www.travelbooking.online.

2. Keep it short and simple

Do yourself and your potential customers a favor and pick a domain name that is short and straightforward. I’ve seen many new businesses getting carried away with witticism and wordplay, only to make their domain names more convoluted and cryptic. My advice is to be creative without making it hard for people to figure out what your brand is about. 

  • Opt for a domain name that is no more than three words or 18 characters long.
  • Avoid words that have different correct spellings, such as color/colour, centre/center, humor/humour, and so on.
  • Resist the urge to modify spellings, such as luv instead of love, xpress instead of express, and thru instead of through.
  • Numbers and special characters, such as hyphens can also create confusion and must be avoided as far as possible. 
  • Steer clear of using slangs and text message syntax, such as u, lyf, kewl, and jeanz. Not only are they prone to being misspelled, but they also come across as unprofessional.

3. Make it easy to communicate

Search engine results are not the only place where one comes across your domain name. It could be that one of your existing customers is asking their friend to check out your website. Or you may have come across a potential client at a casual gathering and you may not have your business card on hand. In such cases, a domain name that rolls off the tongue easily will hold you in good stead.

Once you have a few choices narrowed down, run them through this simple communicability test, also known as the radio test. What are the chances of a person remembering and typing your domain name correctly if they heard it just once in a noisy place? Test your choices out amongst family and friends and see if they have any difficulty recalling it after a few days. 

4. Check for copyright issues

Thousands of domain names are registered every day all over the world. No matter how unique you think your domain name is, you can’t rule out the chances of it being in use already. 

After investing so much time, effort, and money into acquiring the perfect domain name, the last thing you want is to have to go through the entire rigorous process all over again. 

Worse still, unknowingly opting for a domain name that is protected by copyright laws will lead you into legal battles that are not only expensive to fight but also tarnish your brand’s reputation. 

Thorough research is absolutely necessary before you go out and register your domain name. Websites such as Knowem allow you to search for your name across domain registries, social media pages, and other trademark databases. Once you have registered your domain name, consult a specialist to find out which trademarks and licenses you can apply for in order to protect yourself.

5. Don’t wait to register it

Once you’re fairly sure about the domain name you would like to go for, I suggest that you register it right away. The world of domain names is highly competitive and you need to act soon if you don’t want your first preference to be acquired by your competitor. 

Even if your website content is still a work in progress, don’t let it hold you back from going ahead and sealing the deal. (feel free to use code “TED” to get 90% off on your .ONLINE domain for the 1st year at www.get.online)

Your domain name is a small detail that can go a long way in bolstering your brand’s image and giving you a simple to execute edge over your competitors. My advice is to treat it like the online equivalent of your physical storefront. It should intrigue people to know more about your brand while also building the right expectations in their mind before they decide to learn more about you.

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