I apologize but my head is spinning. I went to a local internet marketing for small business seminar last week but I left more confused than ever. Two years ago I bought a pre-packaged website and it is “OK” even though I honestly don’t know it I get business from it. I just send them a small check every month. But in this seminar the speaker said it is important to have my own “domain name”. Steve, I’m embarrassed to say I don’t even know what the heck a “domain name” is! Can you and your SFS team help me with this and also tell me if it is important to have my own domain name?
Spinning in Tulsa
Thanks for writing in, Tulsa. You know what they say about “there is no such a thing as a stupid question?” This is just so true- the only stupid thing is to blithely continuing on in your ignorance! But that isn’t going to happen here because both you and I are going to be educated by Mr. Jim Tome:
Steve, one of the great things I like about small business owners is that they take such a vested interest in the public’s perceptions of their company. They should, after all, because it is their name on the door! (OK, so maybe it isn’t an actual door but instead their truck, advertising, web site, Facebook page, etc!) The image (and reality) the owner wants to convey is that someone of high standards, experience and reputation stands behind the company’s name.
That company name — whether yours as the owner or your company’s as a whole — is the cornerstone of your brand. It’s your most valuable asset and you need to do everything you can to protect and promote it. After all, you gave careful consideration to choosing your company name and it will follow you — and your company — around for many years. Yep- your company name will be a key player in building your “company brand”.
Here are some web site basics on building your company brand. First, think of a domain name for your online presence as the street address of your home or business. It’s where people know you are located; rarely do you move from it and yes, there’s a comfort level people have with you consistently being there. (Part of your brand/image is that you are an established and predictable company, you’ll be there for your customers, etc.).
So, you need to have a domain name — or address — for your web site so current and potential customers (and those ever-valuable search web sites like Google) can find you. A domain name can be as easy as your company’s name, but there’s one key thing: PLEASE keep your domain name short and sweet. For example…
Your company may be Greater Tulsa Carpet, Tile & Hardwood Cleaning and Restoration, Inc., but no one will ever remember greatertulsacarpettileandhardwoodcleaningandrestoration.com (Much less spell it correctly!). Perhaps a better choice might be TulsaOKCleaning.com. Remember: Short. Sweet. Memorable.
Two other important points, Tulsa. You’ll notice a lot of web sites ending with “dot com (.com)” after their name. Less common are .org, .net, .biz and even .us. Think of these “dot somethings” as alternatives like “street”, “avenue” and “road” for a street address. Most common is “street” and in the web world, the most common is “.com”. This is the domain “ender” you should most closely aim for and buy.
The other point is that if you can’t or don’t want to use your company’s name in your web site’s domain address, consider using your “tagline” if you have one. (And yes, you probably should have a tagline which is just a short and catchy phrase explaining what you do.) For example, if Greater Tulsa Carpet, Tile & Hardwood Cleaning and Restoration, Inc.’s tagline is “Making Tulsa Cleaner,” then maybe makingtulsacleaner.com would be a good domain name option.
So Tulsa, what about your original question, “Is it important to have my very own domain name?” My short answer is “YES”! (And choose it wisely!)
As always, I’m happy to help!
Jim Tome | Man Behind the Curtain
Wow, Jim, thanks so much for that orientation. So now I’ll chime in with a question for next time. Assuming Tulsa (like me) is clueless Internet wise what is his next step to actually get his own domain name?