A few weeks ago Jim Tome chimed in with his technical and web marketing advice on the “what” and “why” of domain names. Here Jim is again sharing the “how to” of getting your own domain name …
Thanks Steve! Last time we discussed 1) what a domain name is and 2) why you need your own address on the Internet. Now let’s delve into how you can claim your own domain name and start using it right away. (Even if you aren’t ready to launch a website just yet!)
Most web site marketing agencies (like mine- hint-hint!) can help you to investigate what web site domain name is best for your company. But a lot of small business owners like to see what’s available and get it reserved for future use even before they know what they are going to do online.
So now off you go to your computer and type in your clever new web address in a browser to see what pops up. While this might seem like a good idea the results can be confusing. That’s because a lot of web domains are already reserved but they APPEAR available when typing them into your browser. (And they might be — for a hefty price!). That’s why I like to go right to the source where web site domains start out.
One of the best tools to see what web domains are currently available (and there are literally millions of domains already established) is NetworkSolutions.com. They’re what we call a Domain Registrar- a sort of clearinghouse for web addresses. A Domain Registrar will let you type in an endless list of possible web domain names and see if they are available or taken.
However, Network Solutions will also show you what other options are available — at least by presenting the .org, .net and other dot-something options. As I mentioned in my previous post I’d try to stick to the .com domains if at all possible. From there, Network Solutions allows you to purchase your domain name for a period of one, two, three or even more years. I’d recommend at least two to three years, depending on your comfort level with where your company is going.
There are many other options to consider (auto renewal, autonomy in the record listing, web hosting, etc.) but at this point, just purchase the domain name and keep all the records you see — both online (a screen capture or screen print is good here) as well as what gets emailed to you. Your web marketing agency will need this information later when they are setting up your web site and email.
NOTE: Speaking of email I see too many clients who list their business email address as something like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. This is huge mistake. You don’t work for Google, AOL or Yahoo — you work for you! So make sure your email is john firstname.lastname@example.org (in our example, maybe JohnSmith@TulsaOKCleaning.com). Many domain registrars can set your domain name up with email accounts as an add-on service. Either way, setting up your email account on your own domain name is easy and well worth the effort.
Again, it’s all about brand preservation and promotion. And did you catch the capitalization I did there in the example? You can use any combination of lower and uppercase letters – the Internet doesn’t care, but by capping words, you make your email – and your domain – more memorable.
In the end, a unique web site domain is as critical to your company’s marketing success as your business name itself. Overwhelmed? I don’t blame you! Just remember there are marketing agencies out there with the expertise to quickly, inexpensively and effortlessly (at least on your part!) get you up and running. So let’s make it happen!
Jim Tome | Man Behind the Curtain