How to choose the Domain Name (part 2)

4. Hyphenated Names?

Should you get a hyphenated name? There are a few things to consider here:

a. Disadvantage: It’s easy to forget the hyphens when typing a name. Many users are used to typing things like freecpluspluscompilers.com but not free-c-plus-plus-compilers.com. They’ll probably leave out the hyphens and wind up at your competitor’s site.

b. Disadvantage: When people recommend your site to their friends verbally, having hyphens in your domain name leads to more potential errors than when the name does not contain hyphens. For example, how do you think your visitors will refer to your site if it is named “acme-books-and-videos.com”? They might say, “I visited Acme Book and Videos dot com yesterday. It was fabulous.” Their friends, remembering that comment later, might type into their browsers “acmebooksandvideos.com”. Oops.

c. Disadvantage: It’s a pain in the neck to type. Enough said.

d. Advantage: Search engines can distinguish your keywords better and thus return your site more prominently in search results for those keywords occurring in your domain name.

e. Advantage: The non-hyphenated form may no longer be available. At least this way, you still get the domain name you want.

Personally, I prefer to avoid hyphenated names if I can, but I guess it really depends on your domain name and your situation.

5. Plurals, “The”, and “My” Forms of the Domain Name

Very often, if you can’t get the domain name you want, the domain name registrar will suggest alternate forms of the name you typed. For example,if you wanted website.com, and it was taken (of course it is), it might suggest forms like:

thewebsite.com
mywebsite.com
websites.com

and the like, if they were not already taken as well. The question is, should you take them?

My personal opinion is that if you take the “the…” and “my…” forms of the domain name, you must always remember to promote your site with the full form of the name. Otherwise, people are likely to forget to affix the necessary “the” or “my”. For that reason, I always advertise my sites as “thesitewizard.com” and “thefreecountry.com” in their full domain name forms, rather than just “Free Country” or “Site Wizard” (without the article).

On the other hand, I would not take the plural form of the domain name (eg, websites.com) if I cannot also get “website.com”, since the chance of the visitor failing to type the “s” in the name is very great. Think about the famous name tussle between etoys.com and etoy.com. Many people wanting to go to etoys.com were apparently going to etoy.com instead. If it happened to them, it can happen to you too.

6. COM, ORG, NET, etc?

One common question I encounter is from people who can’t get the “.com” domain of their choice, but find the “.net”, “.org” or other country-specific top level domains (TLDs) available (like .de, .nu, .sg, etc). Should they try for these?

The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. If your website or business caters to the local community, such as a pizza delivery business or recruitment agency or the like, then it makes sense to get a country-specific domain. You actually benefit from having such a local domain because the people in your country know that they’re dealing with a local entity, which is what they want. After all, if they stay in (say) the United Kingdom, they’re not likely to want to try to order pizza from pizzaparlour.com, which suggests a US or an international site. You’ll have better luck calling it pizzaparlour.co.uk, ie, with a UK domain.

What if yours is a site or business that can benefit from an international audience? There are actually many schools of thought on this. I’ll just mention a few common ones.

The first school of thought goes on the premise that it is better to have a domain name of your choice “myperfectdomain” even if it has a TLD of “.net”, “.org” or some other country specific extension, than to wind up choosing an obscure domain name for the simple reason you can’t get your first choice. Thus they would settle for domain names like “myperfectdomain.de” or “myperfectdomain.net” or whatever. Against this is the argument that if you get a country specific domain, people might think that your business only caters to that country.

Another school of thought finds that “.net” and “.org” extensions are actually quite acceptable domain names. For some, the “.org” extension actually describes the non-profit nature of their organisation. So, for example, the famous Apache web server can be found at “apache.org”.

Others settle for the “.com” extension and no less. As grounds for their arguments, they cite the browser algorithms used to locate a website when a user simply types a name like “acme” into the browser. Apparently, the browser searches for a domain name “acme.com” before attempting “acme.net”, etc. As such, people who do that will be delivered to your competitor’s site if you do not also own the “.com” extension. Indeed, even if people do not rely on their browser to complete their typing, many simply assume a “.com” extension when they type a domain name, so if your business is “Acme”, they’ll just assume your domain name is “acme.com” rather than “acme.net” or some other such name.

As you can see, there are actually good grounds for accepting any of the above views. My personal footnote to the above arguments is that if you get a domain name with an extension other than “.com”, make sure that you promote your business or website with the full domain name. For example, if your domain name is “dogandcatfood.net”, make sure that when you advertise your site or business, call it “dogandcatfood.net” not “dogandcatfood”. Otherwise people will assume a “.com” extension and travel to the wrong place.

7. In Conclusion…

In case the forest got lost in the trees (or the reverse) in my arguments here, let me reiterate the main point of this article: get that domain name before you start your site or business.

Don’t make the mistake of attempting to retrofit your domain name to your business or website. thefreecountry.com did not originally start out with that name, and I encountered a huge hassle (and lost visitors) as a result of the URL changes. Don’t make that mistake too.

by Christopher Heng, thesitewizard.com

#com-or-net-domain-names, #how-to-choose-the-domain-name, #hyphenated-domain-names