Some people agonize for days and weeks over choosing a domain name, only to land upon the perfect one and find it is unavailable when they go to register. I, too, know that frustration. My domain name was meant to be designedbylaura.com, but a domain broker already had that in hand, and I was certainly not going to spend $3,000 just to get it. So, what can you do when your perfect URL isn’t meant to be?
No matter what your business, no matter what your industry, the first domain name you register should always be your name. However you are known professionally, that is how your domain name should be registered. Let’s consider a fictional client, Jane Ellen Smith Jones. Her maiden name is Smith; her married name is Jones. Professionally, she uses Smith, so her domain name options could be:
Five separate domain names just from using her given name. That’s quite a bit of digital property to apply her name to, giving her a good chance at being discovered. If she wanted to add underscores for spacing, that would double her options. Unless you plan to run around, legally changing your name every year or two, your name is always going to be your name. Set it up to redirect to your business site, if it has a different URL.
Unless your business name is just one word, you can probably come up with some variants. In my case, variations on “Designed by Laura” led to dblaura.com. Acronyms are always a good choice, especially if you have “company”, “studio”, or something similar in your business name. XYZcompany, XYZstudio, XYZinc – all of these are potential options for a company whose name consists of words starting with X, Y, and Z. Again, adding underscores for spacing is another way to vary up your domain name options.
If you don’t want to abbreviate your business name for domain purposes, but your full business name is still taken, try adding a word at the beginning or end. “The” is a good option for the beginning, as it can show you are the one and only. So, I could have chosen thedesignedbylaura.com. Words that would fit on the end: studio, company, inc, online, digital, etc. You don’t have to go crazy to alter your business name enough to land a good URL.
Change your TLD
TLD is “top-level domain”, the last part of an address that is required for the URL to be a domain name. The most well-known TLD is, of course, com. Because (dot)com is the most popular and most understood TLD, it should be your first choice for any commercial venture websites. But, it is by no means the only option. Certain TLDs are reserved for specific websites. For example, all government websites use the gov TLD. However, there are many, many others to choose from, especially now that new options have been added. Some of these new options are more expensive, and may be restricted like gov. But, if you are looking for a highly customized domain name, it’s a good place to start looking.
How many domain names should you register?
ALL OF THEM. No? Okay, in all seriousness, as many as you can reasonably expect to afford and maintain. This doesn’t mean each one needs to have its own website. Decide which of your URLs is your primary domain, and set all other domains to redirect to it. I own five domain names, and four of them redirect right here to dblaura.com.
It might seem frivolous to have more than one domain name, but it is good business practice. If someone Googles your name or your business name, any URLs containing those elements are likely to show up in their search. You might be result #2, but result #1 could be a business with a very similar URL. If the searcher chooses result #1 over result #2, you may have lost a potential client. Good rules of thumb on domain names:
1 – Always register your given name before anything else
2 – Register any common or potential variations (acronyms, abbreviations, etc.)
3 – Register any common mistakes people might make regarding your domain name (ie, if your business name is spelled unconventionally, or if part of it might be mistaken for another word – for instance, “designs” as opposed to “designed”)
Now that you have an awesome domain name, you need it to point to an awesome website. Get started on your brand new website by clicking here.