In this first of a three-part series on how to create an online identity for your business, Verisign’s Scott Schnell explains the importance of choosing the right domain name.
By Scott Schnell
Today, people often turn to the Internet first for information about businesses and products – whether they are shopping online, or simply looking for a business’ address or phone number – making an online presence one of the most important assets for business. No matter the size or the industry, a Web presence is vital for businesses to help ensure customers can access the information they want.
The most important decision a business owner can make when establishing an online identity is choosing the right domain name. In this digital age, domain names are central to all online activity and businesses should take careful consideration when making their choice.
First, businesses need to ask themselves which Top-Level Domain (TLD) best serves their business. TLDs appear to the right of the dot, like .com, .net, .tv. The domain name industry is a competitive marketplace and there are many TLDs to choose from. When deciding where to build your online identity, a TLD can be as important to your business as your second-level domain (what’s to the left of the dot, i.e., your name, brand or product) for many reasons, including security, credibility and search – which will be how most customers find your site.
For more than two decades, .com and .net have been the TLDs of choice for businesses seeking to establish their online presence because they have global recognition and consistent records of security, availability and stability. They are also the TLDs of choice for many search experts because search engines give more weight to websites on .com and .net, making it easier for them to be found.
For instance, video has become a huge draw for people online and many businesses are establishing video hubs on .tv domains that are associated with their primary websites. A great example of this is www.RedBull.tv and www.Lipsy.tv, which both have distinct .tv websites that house video content and are linked to their .com websites. Registering domains on these additional TLDs is an investment in future growth and a great defensive brand protection move, too, as in the past companies have been known to purchase domain names associated with competitors and place questionable content on them.
There is a common misconception that popular TLDs like .com and .net, which are powered by Verisign, are “full” and businesses need to go elsewhere to get the domain they want, but that is simply not true. Millions of new .com domain names are registered every year and millions of great domain names are still available. With recent changes to search algorithms, businesses can see better search engine rankings by registering longer and more descriptive domains (which conveniently make up the majority of available domains) that include keywords, their brand, their location, or memorable phrases. This is because many Internet users today prefer to simply type a search term into a browser to find what they are looking for, unlike 10 years ago when most typed in a direct domain address to reach a website.
Businesses should take advantage of this evolving behavior and try to think of the keywords their customers might search to find their business and register a combination of those keywords as a domain name. For example, if someone in London is looking for a bakery, they’re likely to search for “the best bakery in London” versus “bakeries.” A business with the domain www.thebestbakeryinlondon.com, or www.bestlondonbakedgoods.com would be served well in this example. Moreover, a trend in marketing today is to register “brand-able phrase” domain names, like www.nowwhat.com, which uses a phrase that’s intended to be catchy so it will draw interest or intrigue to a promotion or advertisement.
Once a business decides which domains it wants to register, the next step is to decide which registrar to purchase from. Registrars are effectively domain retailers that send the necessary domain name system (DNS) information to a registry like Verisign – the wholesaler – to register a domain name on behalf of businesses, or registrants. Many registrars provide online tools to help people search for available domain names and create websites around their new domain name once registered. Registrars can serve as a business owner’s one-stop-shop to help establish their online identity.
Scott Schnell is SVP of Marketing, Strategy and Business Development at Verisign. For more information on how to build and grow an online presence, including how to purchase a domain name, visit www.GetA.com or www.VerisingInc.com/smallbiz.