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Choosing a good domain name for your business

With over 50 million registered domain names, it's tough to find a good domain name that's still available. Unfortunately the domain name industry is full of opportunistic "traders" who buy and sell domain names without any intention of even using it themselves. Because of this, the majority of the registered domain names don't even have a website to go with it!

This can be quite frustrating as you seek out a domain name for yourself to build a website for. But at the end of the day in a first-come first-served world, we must try and find another way to find that great domain name.

There are several tools that can be very handy when it comes to looking for a domain name. I discuss these tools in another article. Here we will discuss what makes a good domain name.

To brand or not to brand?

Brading is a key element in traditional "offline" marketing. Having a unique, catchy name does wonders for any business. However when it comes to an online presence, you might just be better off with a domain name that is rich in keywords.

Search engines primarily work on keywords as you may know. You enter a search term or "keywords" and the search engine produces results based on their formulas and the websites they believe to be the best fit for your search.

Now, there are many Search Engine Optimisation techniques that can be used by anyone on any site. The same techniques could be applied to a lot of sites, so my question is what could possibly be the 1 thing that is unique and could separate one site from the other? Of course, domain names!

I prefer to have keywords in the domain names that I own because this is what could give me the edge over competitors. Of course it's not so important if your website is a personal one and you are not looking to make any money from it. But if you are selling something or wanting to make money off your website, I would strongly recommend using keywords in your domain names. Just to prove it, go to Google.com and search for "domain name". You will see in the results that any occurrence of the words "domain" or "name" is actually in bold. So Google is definitely looking out for your search terms and highlighting them for you.

On the other hand, branding is still a strong concept online as well. If you find that catchy name (such as....hmmm Google?) and market it well, then you could be well on your way to word-of-mouth fame in no time!

If your business name is available, register it. You can always register keyword rich domain names to draw the traffic, and redirect them to your business name domain.

Hyphens or no hyphens?

Another common topic of discussion is whether to use hyphens in your domain names. I own mixtures of both hyphenated and non-hyphenated names. There is nothing wrong with hyphens. In fact, for search engines you are helping them by separating words that could be read differently. Here is one example: mikesmithstables.com

This domain could belong to a horse trainer "Mike Smith", as a website for his racing stables, or it could also be read as "Mike Smith's Tables". So there is definitely nothing wrong with hyphenation, as it would actually help to distinguish where the words end in the above example. The only small problem you will run into is word of mouth advertising where people will have to call out the hyphens. But believe me, you want all your traffic to come from search engines because it's free and the volumes are enormous.

What about using abbreviations?

If your preferred name was something like flowerstoyou.com but it was taken, but you see flowers2you.com is available, should you take it? There are several common abbreviations or variations of certain words that are almost commonly accepted, particularly in cyberspace. Thanks also SMS messaging, we are no used to the use of "2″ instead of "to", "4″ instead of "for" etc. Whether you choose to use such variations in your domain name is totally up 2 u (ok I was trying to be funny..).

Don't forget however that word of mouth advertising will always require the person making the recommendation to remind people of the substitute.

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