Your domain name is the first point of contact on the internet. It is a vital part of the address of your website and of your e-mail address. You’ll be using that domain name for a long time, so it’s crucial to spend some time deciding on the best name, to find out if that name is available and to register a few variations of that domain name. In this article, I will present some tips and suggestions about the steps involved.

Is your own name a good domain name?

It’s smart to select a domain name that is easy to remember and spell. Many people will want to use their own name. That’s fine, no problem here. I’m using my own name for my website, found on the internet as www.erikgeurts.com.

A different approach is to select a domain name that describes your service, your product or something unique about your business. A dry cleaner in Manhattan, operated by the Jones Company, could use jonescompany.com. However, a domain name like drycleaningmanhattan.com is probably much better. This name is easy to remember and easy to tell others. And this name is likely to do very well in Google. It is a known fact people will often search for a combination of the service they need and a location, so having both dry cleaning and Manhattan in the domain name is a good strategy.

Variations and spelling

If your brand is world wide (or you have plans to go international), it’s a good idea to register some international variations from the start. So in addition to the .com version of the domain name, consider the .co.uk or .cn versions (for the UK and China respectively). These are just examples. You don’t have to start using them right away, but it does mean you will not see others running away with your domain name. For my business I’ve got platformiq.nl as well, being used for the website in Dutch for my home market, in addition to the international site in English on platformqi.com.

If it could be unclear how to spell your brand, business or domain name, it may be a good idea to register a few alternative spellings. For instance, the dry cleaner mentioned above should also register drycleaning-manhattan.com, drycleanermanhattan.com, and drycleanersmanhattan. By doing this, they can avoid these alternative spellings from being used by domain name squatters for all sorts of evil.

A brand name as domain name

You can register a domain name that has someone else’s brand name in it. But the rightful owner of that brand might object to your using it. He could start a legal procedure. Some examples of uses that would cause trouble are to use brand name A to link the website of competing brand B, or to use a domain name for brand C to start a web shop with products by C. You might say: C should have registered this domain name. But intellectual property laws will most likely prevail and C will probably win.

Domain name registration

Registering a domain name is easy and doesn’t take a lot of time. There are numerous internet providers and companies that specialize in this aspect of internet business. In most cases your domain name will have to be paid for in advance, for a period of 1 year. Often the costs for the domain name are part of your web hosting subscription.