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Domain Names: What Your URL Says about You

Selecting Your Domain Name

Picking the right domain name for your website depends on your business strategy. You need to decide how you want people to find you on the web. You have basically two ways to approach choosing a domain name — by brand or by keywords

As an alternative, you can choose a domain name that contains keywords that identify what your business does. For instance, if your business is called Marty’s Auto but your website is focused on your classic‐car customization business, you might choose classiccarcustomization.com as a domain name.

Search engines can parse the domain name to recognize the distinct words classic car customization, and your keyword‐laden domain name could make your site more relevant to searches for those terms. Exact‐match domains, which are domains that have the exact query as their URL, used to be rewarded with higher search rankings in the past. However, you don’t want to stuff or repeat keywords in a domain name today, as that’s the kind of thing Google and other search engines see as a red flag

Registering Your Domain Name

To find out whether a domain has already been taken, start by just typing it into the address bar of your web browser and seeing what comes up. If you see an error message saying Address Not Found or something similar, you might think you’re in luck and have located an available domain. But sometimes a domain may be taken even though no site displays, or it may look taken when in fact the domain holder would like to transfer it to someone else.

Covering All Your Bases

You may want to register other domains, in addition to your main URL. Often companies try to cover all their bases — not just to attract more traffic (visitors) to their sites, but to protect their brand and their future online business, as well. Securing other domain names besides your primary domain can be a proactive step for your website, but you want to do it strategically. This section covers why you might want to have more than one URL. We also help you understand the variety of choices beyond the .com domains, so you can make informed decisions.

Vanity domains

A vanity domain is an easy‐to‐remember web address used to market a specific product, person, or service. You would obtain a vanity domain with your users, not search engines, in mind. Movies often register a vanity domain, in addition to their primary location on the studio’s website.

Misspellings

Another good idea is to register domains that are commonly misspelled versions of your main domain name. Not only might this help you rank better for your misspelled brand name in the search engines, it also helps you capture the direct type‐in traffic, or the people who type a URL directly into the address bar of a web browser.

Pointing Multiple Domains to a Single Site Correctly

After you’ve registered a bunch of domains, you need to know what to do with them. Having multiple domains all point to a single website is usually bad for search engine optimization because the search engines think you’re trying to index multiple websites using the same content. They can tell that it’s duplicate content (by matching long text strings, file sizes, and so on), and they usually use only one site and throw the others out of their search results.

You can correct this problem by using an IP funnel. This is a method for funneling many domains to a single canonical site (your primary, main website) correctly, so that search engines won’t view your multiple sites as deceptive or misleading.

Choosing the Right Hosting Provider

Deciding where to host your website is very important. Pick a reliable host, and managing your site can be fairly headache‐free. Choose a bad one, and you could have a nightmarish experience with unreturned calls, unanswered emails, and a website that visitors can’t access.

Unless you have your own server and other equipment in‐house, and the technical know‐how or staff to run them, you’re going to need a website hosting provider. Hosting providers are third‐party companies that lease out web space by month or by year, similar to office space. In addition to space on their servers, they offer varying degrees of additional services.

Last word

Websites often create subdomains in order to segregate sections of web pages to create a virtual site within a site. In the example in the previous section, an events subdomain could be used to hold information about classic car shows, car industry conventions, company‐sponsored events, or other types of event‐related information that you decided not to include within your main site navigation scheme.

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