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How to choose a domain name

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/7/2006 | Business and Finance

A good domain name can make a big difference to a companys fortunes. If you are a little known company then a net presence gives you credibility; it becomes your identity; your address in cyberspace where your clients can reach you; it also lends a professional touch to your business. Even your e-mail gets to carry your company name and gives you added visibility.

The question is how to choose a good name. Your dotcom address or domain name should be short and commensurate with your companys name. This is significant because it will be easier for your customers to remember your address. In fact, there is no bar in choosing a long or unconventional name or an abbreviated form of your companys name as your dotcom address. But then you need to ask yourself the question: Will your customers remember it?

Abbreviations have no specific identity of their own. They can be burdensome if they are complicated and your customers may find them difficult to remember. Also, it is important to avoid dashes, slashes and underscores. Dashes are often forgotten because generally they are not part of names. In short, let your domain name be easy enough for your customers to grasp or recall even if they hear the name for the first time as a radio or TV advertisement.

It is often contended that people have no difficulty in locating a web address the first time. This is because they have either noted it down or stumbled upon it during a web search. It is the second time that they find it difficult to locate your address. The real strength of a good domain name lies in making sure that it can be located a second time again  that is it should stick to peoples minds.

You must also follow business ethics. Registering your company under a trademark name that is not your own is not only illegal but also unethical. This should never be done. There is no point in investing on such a domain name because the law can always force you to vacate it.

Another problem is spelling. Even if your companys name is simple it could be spelt in different ways. So think of the various possible spellings; consider the possible spelling errors and register all the different ways in which your domain can be spelt. All these domain names should be made to point to your real domain name. This may mean an extra expenditure but ultimately it will prove profitable because your customers will reach you even if they type your name wrongly.

Further, it is always fruitful to take opinions of your colleagues, co-workers, friends and business partners. Who knows they may come up with a unique name. After all, what you want is a good, workable and distinctive name!

Once you have chosen a domain name you should ensure that it is printed prominently on you business letterheads, cards and other promotional material. This will improve customer recall.