Time to Startup!

The BizFilings blog covering business tips and trends.

Choosing a Domain Name for Your Small Business Website

Published on Feb 22, 2012

Summary

Read 'Choosing a Name for Your Small Business?' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
DomainNameSmallBusinessRecently, we’ve talked about choosing the perfect business name, and how to create a winning website — both important steps in the start up of a successful small business. But have you thought about the domain name for your small business website? It’s one of the next steps you’ll need to take once you’ve found the right company name and formed a business that best suits your particular needs.

What is a Domain Name?

Simply put, it’s a website address. Typically, you’ll see them begin with www, http, or https (for secure sites), but when you’re searching for your domain name you don’t have to worry about these prefixes. What’s important is what comes at the end of the domain name: .com, .net, .org, etc. Your domain name has to be available with one of these endings — the most popular being .com. There are many small business owners who assume that since they’ve formed a business under a certain name, it will be available for purchase as their domain name. Not true.

How to Check for Domain Name Availability

Visit a site like GoDaddy, and simply type in the name you’d like to use. Typically, if your company name is available, it’s a good idea to purchase it (at least as .com and .net), even if you want to use a variant for your website address. With GoDaddy, you’ll be cued up for a .com domain name, but there’s a drop down menu which will give you access to other options. Click the search button to see if the name you want is available. If it’s not, available options (with endings other than .com) will be listed, as well as variants on the name itself. If your preferred name is not available as a .com, you’ve got to decide if another choice is acceptable to you. Will customers and clients remember that you’re a .US or a .net? Or will this pose a potential problem? Some of the GoDaddy variant options may suggest that you place a dash somewhere in the name. For example, if you company name is TechnoToys, Techno-Toys may be available. Once again the question arises whether or not people will remember to enter the dash in your domain name. There has also been talk that having a dash in one’s website address could be perceived negatively by search engines like Google and Bing.

What if Your Preferred Domain Name is Taken?

First of all, don’t panic. There’s a chance it’s being used by another company, and there’s also a chance that it’s been purchased by another company who’s looking to sell it for a profit. With GoDaddy, you can click on “WHOIS” at the top of the page (just under where it says your domain name choice is already taken). This will give you info on who owns the domain name, as well as contact information. Next to WHOIS, you’ll find “Domain Buy Service,” which is a service that acts as an intermediary between you and the legal owner of the domain. Another option is to brainstorm and find a domain name that is available. But gaining ownership to the exact domain name you want (especially if it’s your business name) is typically an excellent idea. You don’t want another business using it do you? Of course, GoDaddy is not the only provider in town — it’s just the most well known. If your domain name is not available there, it won’t be available on another site that provides the same type of service. Best of luck with your domain name and your small business! Business Blogs blog