Choosing a Domain Name for Your Business

Published on January 13, 2011 by Jerry Travis Smith

Choosing a domain name for your business is a very important decision. In case you don’t know, a domain name is what most people think of as a web address, such as www.prosumtech.com or google.com. Before choosing a domain name, it is important to understand the parts of a domain.

Parts of a Domain Name

Consider a domain name such as www.example.com. As you can see, it consists of parts separated by periods (usually just called a dot). To properly identify its parts, we actually start with the part after the rightmost dot. In this example, that would be com. The rightmost segment is known as the Top Level Domain (TLD).

All parts before the rightmost segment are called subdomains. In this example, example is a subdomain of com, and www is a subdomain of example. So, as far as a domain is concerned, it’s actually read by the computer who points to a webserver from right to left by the dot segments.

Consider this color-coded example with a domain such as docs.google.com

  • Top Level Domain (TLD) – com
  • Domain – google
  • First Subdomain – docs

A web address can have up to 127 subdomains before the TLD! (I’ve personally never seen any more than 4 subdomains in one address, but it is possible!) This may seem confusing, however, the average person buying a domain need not worry about anything more than the TLD they choose and the first subdomain.

The Top Level Domain – The Hardest Decision

The hardest part is choosing the right TLD. Why? Because many of the subdomains under the .com, .net, and .org TLDs are taken and very hard to get. It doesn’t matter what subdomain you want if that subdomain is already registered to another business. Let’s assume you own Smith Plumbing Company, you might want  SmithPlumbing.com. The problem is, this domain is registered already. So is SmithPlumbing.net…and SmithPlumbingCompany.com.  You can eventually find something that fits, but it’s not always easy. Almost any single word .com and .net is taken already. Keep these three things you must keep in mind:

  • When entering a web address from memory, a LOT of customers will automatically try .com whether or not that is your actual TLD. Why? Because .com has been around since the beginning. Also, most addresses repeated over and over in the media end with .com. My elderly parents, and many people just like them, think everything ends in .com.
  • Many of the newer TLDs are unknown and people don’t trust them. Anybody who has spent time on the Internet in the last 10 years is probably familiar with .com, .net, and .org. How many people are familiar with newer domains such as .info, .biz, .mobi, .jobs, .cc, or .me? There’s nothing technically wrong with these TLDs. They work exactly like a .com, but customers like the familiar because they’re used to it.
  • If your domain is too long, you will lose customers because of typos. Many people hate to type or can’t type well. So, if your domain is more than 10 characters, you will have a lot of customers trying to type it in get it wrong. So, the rule of thumb: keep it as short and meaningful as possible.

Balancing these three rules isn’t easy, but if you do, you will make life easier for your customers, which will help bolster your bottom line.

Where to Get a Domain Name

Years ago, the governing body known as ICANN began granting companies the ability to sell domain names. All ICANN accredited sellers must  follow the same rules and procedures when selling domains. However, all are not created equal: Different companies charge different amounts for the same domain, and some of them have terrible control interfaces for allowing you to tie your domain to a server. ICANN maintains a HUGE list of companies who are allowed to sell domain names, but there are only a handful I would recommend.  These include:

I recommend these companies because I have had some exposure to them in the past and they have all been around for quite awhile.


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