Good Domain Names – How Valuable Are They?

Domain Names for Your WebsiteForbes.com recently published an interesting article by venture capitalist David Teten about domain names.

Though the focus was specifically on whether startups should spend venture capital funding on a domain name, the article was a good reminder of domain name basics (as we’ve previously posted about; see Best Website Domain Names) and provided valuable insight and domain strategies to use when the domain you want is unavailable.

The article asserts that while domain names are currently a little less important (because of mobile and apps), they are still your email identity (as we also wrote about a couple of weeks ago in Domain Email…What Are You Waiting for?) and an important part of your marketing.

A domain name can even be the difference between winning and losing companies, one of the factors that tips the competitive balance from one startup to another; for example, the stronger Mint.com domain winning out over Wesabe.com.

Why? Because a good domain name catches attention, is easy to remember, and easy to find online. It represents your company often before you have any other way to influence potential customers, investors, or even future employees.

Three main domain name factors proposed in the article are:

  1. Fit. This is perhaps obvious, so Teten doesn’t explain any more than to say the domain should match the business. There are, of course, different ways to “match” or “fit.” As we’ve previously written, a domain name that is an exact match or close match to your company name (assuming you’re not a startup with no previous company name) is often the number-one recommendation. Next would be a strong, popular keyword that’s associated with your business, like one of your core products or services. I would say that the domain doesn’t have to be immediately obvious but it should makes sense when you think about it. Like the Facebook domain. While “facebook” wasn’t a popular keyword and people first hearing the domain may have wondered what it was, a social network like this is kind of like a contact “book” with the “faces” (and other personal detail) of friends. So it fits.
  2. SEO. Here’s another push for keyword-rich domain names. If your domain name exactly matches keywords people are using to find the products or services you sell, your website will get a real boost towards the first page of search results (assuming you have a non-hyphenated .COM site). If you are lucky enough to have such a domain (or can get one), make sure you optimize the homepage for your domain name keywords. In other words, the content of the homepage should support the URL/domain.
  3. Linguistic Characteristics. Though we have written about certain aspects of these good domain name characteristics before (notably that you want a short domain, without hyphens or numerals, that’s easy to spell and therefore remember), some of Teten’s other recommendations about the internal sounds of domain names were new and intriguing.

No matter what your domain name means, data suggests that the best ones generally have these linguistic characteristics:

    • are short
    • use dictionary words
    • do no include hyphens or numerals
    • have initial sounds that are easy to articulate
    • avoid internal sounds phonemes associated with disgust (like the uh sound in yuck and the ew sound in puke)

The bad news: If you’re going to be bidding on domain names that are already owned, you’ll probably need fairly deep pockets. Average domains are said to go from $5,000 – $20,000, with the very top of the market going in the millions.

The good news: Teten advises most new businesses to start with a free or very low-cost dot-com domain name. If your ideal domain name isn’t available but there is no website yet active at that domain, you may want to purchase a similar domain to launch your business with the goal to transition to the other domain when you can purchase it. These EarthLink Web Hosting services offer a free domain name for one year.

To get more domain name advice for startups, read the full article on Forbes.com.

When you’re ready to get started, here’s a step by step guide to choosing a new domain name with EarthLink.

How to Manage Your Domain with the EarthLink Web Hosting Control Center

Domain names are such an important part of business web hosting that web hosting is often called domain hosting or domain web hosting.

We’ve previously posted about the best domain names for SEO, branding and online success, how to choose a domain name, step by step, and why you should buy multiple version of your domain name.

Domain Web Hosting - How to Manage Your Domain in Web Hosting Control CenterToday we’ll cover how you can manage your domain in the EarthLink Web Hosting Control Center.

To get started, go to our Web Hosting Control Center at control.earthlink.net and sign in with your domain name, user name and password. Then click Manage Domain from the top navigation. Depending on the status of your domain, you’ll see six to nine icons representing all your domain name management options.

  1. DNS Records
  2. Change Domain Password
  3. Manage Nameservers
  4. Manage Domain Contacts
  5. Lock/Unlock Domains
  6. Domain Monitor Settings
  7. Domain Guard Settings
  8. Domain Redirect
  9. Add Subdomain

DNS Records: First, the warning: you probably shouldn’t  change DNS settings unless you really know what you’re doing. If you make a mistake, your entire domain could be inaccessible for up to 72 hours. Ouch! If you’re not scared off, the DNS manager makes it easy to make changes to your zone file, which allows you to set up domain redirects, add subdomains, and add email servers to your domain. Add or delete MX Records, A Records and CNAME Records.

Change Domain Password: This one’s very simple: click this icon to change the password for your domain. The Transfer Authorization Code of your domain will be set to match your domain password.

Manage Nameservers: Click this icon to manage all the nameservers on your domain. If your domain is locked, you’ll need to unlock it first before you can change any of your nameservers.  Luckily that Lock/Unlock Domains tool is in the same Manage Domain section of the Control Center.

Manage Domain Contacts: This tool lets you make changes to the contact information associated with your website. Click the checkbox above the contacts form if you want to use the same person as your Registrant, Administrative, and Technical contact; otherwise enter unique contact information for each type.

Lock/Unlock Domains: To prevent your domain name from being hijacked, you may want to click here and lock your domain. If it’s already locked, click here to unlock if you need to change your nameservers or transfer to another domain registrar.

Domain Monitor Settings: Domain Monitor is a complete, unmetered domain status monitoring tool. It lets you monitor the daily status of any domain and get daily email updates when one or more of your domain names changes status.

Domain Guard Settings: Domain Guard lets you know each time a new domain is registered that is similar to yours. This can help you protect your trademarks, copyrights, and brand.

Domain Redirect: This tool makes it simple to redirect pages or directories on your website to other locations. You choose whether you want them to be 301 redirects (permanent redirect that’s best for SEO) or a 302 temporary redirect. You can also specify Global Redirection of your domain to one version (www.YourDomain.com or YourDomain.com), which is also beneficial for SEO.

Add Subdomain: Create a new subsection of your website that replaces the www domain prefix in your URL instead of appearing after the domain.

For example, the EarthLink.net domain has several subdomains (support, webmail, myaccount, control, etc.):

  • http://support.earthlink.net
  • http://webmail.earthlink.net
  • http://myaccount.earthlink.net
  • http://control.earthlink.net

Simply enter any keyword you want to use as a subdomain and click the Add Sub-Domain button.

That’s all there is to it.

And remember, you don’t have to do it all yourself. You can add an assistant to your web hosting account to help you manage your domain.

Register a Domain Name that Fits Your Business

Register a domain name that will support your business, not one that could confuse customers…

Customers interact with and understand companies is through the internet; whether through a google search or by typing in the web address directly, a business’ URL is the first online stop for customers. So be sure you have one that reflects your business perfectly.

When you sign up for EarthLink Web Hosting or Ecommerce Hosting, the first step will be to either find an available domain name or transfer one you already own (fact: you get 1 year of free domain name registration when you choose an EarthLink website hosting service), and we want to make sure you have the RIGHT domain(s) with these handy tips:

  1. .Com Domain Names Are Best: There are many new top-level domains (TLDs) available (these are the .com, .net, .biz, and .info endings to URLS). But it’s still best to use a .com if possible. Most internet users will assume your website is a “.com,” and if this assumption is incorrect, they may not want to look hard enough to actually find you.
  2. Buy Domain Variations: If possible, buy the .net, .biz, .org and other top-level domain variations of your domain name so no one else can use them and potentially confuse people who are searching for your business. Also, try to buy common misspellings of your domain (e.g., HappinessStore.com and HapinessStore.com and Happinesstore.com) and redirect them to your actual URL (EarthLink Web Hosting customers can easily redirect domains in the Manage Domain section of their Control Center.)
  3. Have Keywords in your URL: If you have an already-established business, and you can’t get a .com domain with your exact name, try adding SEO-related keywords (the ones people use to search for you) or locations (if you serve a local market), such as HappinessStoreGifts.com or HappinessStoreNYC.com.
  4. Domain Name Before Company Name: If you are going to start a business that relies entirely or largely on the Internet, wait to name your company until after you own a URL. Ensuring your company name has a matching “.com” domain name is incredibly helpful in the long run.

Ready to start? Register a domain name now through EarthLink (even if you’re not ready to go, you can register the website and we’ll hold onto it for you until you are so no one else snatches it!)