Imagine the world of business on the internet being a bullet train. This train flies down the tracks at the speed of light and the only goal is to reach a destination that supplies its needs. Your business may provide those needs, but without the proper “domain name” for your station, the train may fly right past you.
The first step in building your very own personal stop for the bullet train of business is to name your train station, or in other words, create a domain name. Your domain name is, in essence, the name of your company on the internet; it’s what users will associate with your business. Our domain name is the name of our company: mcsnet.ca. A memorable and relevant domain name can have a profound impact on your company’s online recognition.
We went right to the local expert to get the details on setting up a domain for your business. Melissa Broadbent works for the Digital Service Squad. This organization is funded by the provincial government and is free to access for small business owners who have questions concerning their digital presence. Once you reach their website, you can create an account to begin accessing their help. But before you do, keep reading to see how much you can get done on your own. Naming your own “train station” isn’t as difficult as you may think.
Choosing Your Domain Name
When beginning the process of choosing a domain name you need to ensure it represents your business. You also need to keep in mind that you may not get the first domain name you choose, so you need to have an open mind when selecting it.
Take some time and don’t rush into the process. Talk with friends and partners about possible ideas. Brainstorm over a pot of coffee or during a walk. Is there a key word that absolutely needs to be in the name? Are there some you just want in the name? What can you leave out completely? Here are a few things to consider.
Make it Easy to Say
Having a domain name that’s easy to pronounce is vital. Imagine sharing it with someone in an elevator. Can you tell them what it is and by the time the elevator reaches your floor they have it memorized? Making your domain easy to say out loud quickly and easily also makes it easy to spell and keeping it short makes it easy to recall. For example if your name is Bob and you have a plumbing business then, “bobsplumbing.ca” provides easy recall and quick sharing.
Target Your Niche and Location
Including location and niche-specific keywords will help your search engine rankings. When someone searches for a product or a service in your neighborhood, your domain could be one that pops up first in their search results.
Continuing with our example above of, “bobsplumbing.ca”, adding “stpaul” to the the name making it “bobsplumbingstpaul.ca” could be a positive choice.
Keep it Unique
Try to create a domain name that doesn’t sound like another company. Take a look at competitors in your area to see what they’re using and steer away from anything that seems too similar. For example, if there’s a Billy the Plumber in your area, you might want to remove Bob from the domain and go with something different like, “plumbingsolutionsstpaul.ca”.
Choose a Popular Domain Name Extension
Sure, there are tons of options for domain name extensions other than .com, but most people still revert to this first when manually typing domain names. In Canada, the .ca extension is also very popular and trusted. Another you may have seen is, .net.
Once you get to the stage of actually registering your name, you’ll need to choose the extension it uses. The more popular the extension the higher the cost, so making a wise choice is important.
Also remember that the more popular the extension, the more trustworthy your domain name will appear. We recommend sticking with.com, .ca or, .net. A few examples of obscure extensions can be found later in this blog.
Picking a domain name that works can be easy and fun. Provided you consider these guidelines, your business will be well positioned to stand out online. The more visible you are in this digital landscape, the more customers you stand to gain.
Let’s Get it Registered
Once you have your list of possible names, you’ll need to search which ones are available and then register one of them. There are several websites that provide domain name registration. HostUpon and HostPapa are two Canadian choices; you may have heard of their American big brothers Godaddy and Wix.
Melissa from the Digital Service squad recommends Namecheap. This site will allow you to register your domain name, but won’t link it to any specific web-hosting company. This allows you to pick up and move your domain whenever you wish. If one provider doesn’t work out, the name can be easily moved to another provider. Take a look at all of them and make the choice that’s best for you.
Let’s take a look at our friendly neighborhood plumber, Bob, and his search for a domain name. He wants to try, “plumbingsolutionsstpaul.ca”. We log into Namecheap and enter that name. These are the results:
As you can see there are several options available for this particular name. This means it’s a solid choice. Bob can choose any of these listed and the price per year is indicated on the right hand side. If he wanted to take more than one he could buy .com, .ca and .net for $45.58/ year. It is a good idea to secure the top three extensions. Of course, Bob is free to just choose one of them and could have the .ca extension for just $16.28/ year.
Let’s take a look and see what would happen if he wanted, “bobsplumbing.ca”:
As you can see, the .ca doman isn’t available. Someone owns the .com domain, but is willing to sell it for $8,153.94. The other domains look suspicious and aren’t common. People might be hesitant to click on a link containing a .xyz or .gg extension. An exception to this might be if you had a tutoring business for example. In that case the domain spellingcoach.xyz would be perfect. Again it comes down to your individual needs and business.
For our friend Bob, plumbingsolutionsstpaul.ca is a winner. It’s easy to communicate, easy to remember and readily available for registration. This is the goal for any domain name.
Once you have your name selected and have found a domain you’re happy with, all you need to do is place it in your cart and follow the transaction though. Viola, you’ve named your train station.
The train won’t stop here yet though, you need a website for that and creating one is the next step and that shouldn’t be rushed. There’s no need to because once you’ve secured your domain name, you own it. It’s best to continue to research and take the next step into website development carefully.
Even without a website you can start using your domain name to set up email with providers like Gmail and Zoho. Take a look at our recent blog on choosing an Email Provider.
Using Your Domain Name for Company Email
One aspect of domain name ownership that cannot be overlooked is its impact on your company’s email communications. Having a company-specific email address that utilizes your domain name (e.g., email@example.com) can enhance your business’s credibility and professionalism in several ways.
Boosts Brand Awareness
Every time you send an email from a company-specific address, you’re promoting your brand. Unlike generic email addresses, a company email with your domain name keeps your business name in front of your customers and encourages them to visit your website. This consistent visibility can significantly enhance brand awareness and recall.
Increases Trust and Credibility
In the era of internet scams and phishing attacks, customers are increasingly cautious about interacting with businesses online. A company-specific email domain helps establish trust and credibility. An email from firstname.lastname@example.org is more likely to be opened and responded to than an email from email@example.com or a similarly generic email address. This trust can extend beyond communications and positively affect all interactions customers have with your business.
A company email address using your domain name looks professional. For small businesses, in particular, a company-specific email domain can help create an image of size and structure. This display of professionalism can be especially helpful when communicating with potential clients, suppliers, and partners who might be assessing the credibility of your business.
Facilitates Organization and Scalability
As your business grows and you add more employees, having a company-specific email domain allows for easy scalability and organization. You can create standardized email addresses for new employees, departments, or functions (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com), making communication more efficient and manageable.
As for this next step of setting up a website, this is where the advice from someone like Melissa comes in handy. We recommend contacting the Digital Service Squad or someone else you trust to begin the process of creating your business website.
We hope this article has helped take some of the mystery out of choosing and registering your domain name and helps you find that perfect name to represent your business online. Good luck stopping that train!