I frequently get asked questions about domain names by small business owners. Here are some of those questions, along with the simple versions of the answers.
Q: How do I pick my domain name?
A: The easiest thing to do is find a short version of your business name. So if your business name is, for example, Texas Concrete, you might see if the following is available:
Q: What if the domain name I want is already taken?
A: Maybe you’ve settled on the perfect domain name, but it’s already taken. The good news is, the domain may be for sale. If you go to the site and there’s an offer to sell the domain name, you just have to be willing to either pay what they’re asking, or to bargain with them.
On the other hand, someone may actually be using the website. In that case, it can’t hurt to ask them if they’re interested in selling it. But if they aren’t, you’ll need to pick another domain name.
Websites like GoDaddy.com that sell domain names will often suggest other domain names if the one you want is taken. However, there’s other sites like Domainsbot.com that are a bit more flexible and dynamic in their suggestions. That’s the tool I generally recommend to clients.
Alternatively, you can just do something like appending your city or state to your domain name, or just pick something associated with your industry. You might use your product instead.
Let’s look at an example. We’ll talk about a hypothetical company, J.R. Technologies, that primarily sells and repairs laptops, and is located in California. Well, jrtechnologies.com is already taken, but the owner really wants a .com. Some other options might include:
Hopefully you get the idea.
Q: How much does a domain name cost?
It varies. Currently the most expensive is .tv, which tends to run around $35. Another, .me, is $20. The more common ones, like .com, .net, .org and so on tend to run under $10.
Q: Is it better to get the .com?
Good question. The .com, .org, etc. (called top-level domains or TLDs) actually all have meanings. For example, .com is short for commercial, and is typically used by for-profit businesses. On the other hand, .org is for organizations, and is typically used by non-profit organizations.
There are also many TLDs created for specific countries, including .us for United States, .uk for United Kingdom, and so on. Some countries have TLDs that have a more common meaning that they’ve chosen to capitalize on. The country of Tuvalu’s number one export is their TLD, .tv. Montenegro made their domain, .me, available after just over a year of being an independent country.
So if you are a for-profit business, it’s customary to get the .com. If you are a non-profit organization, it’s customary to get the .org. If you run a television station or program, the .tv TLD is appropriate.
Q: If I get the .com, should I get any others as well? And will that make it more expensive?
The more you get, the more expensive it will be. However, gone are the days (back in the 90’s) when domain names were $70+ per year. So it’s pretty affordable to purchase domain names just to make sure others don’t get them first. Even if you purchase the .org as a commercial business, this will keep your competitors from buying that domain name and redirecting it to their own site. It will also keep a “domain squatter” from purchasing it with the express purpose of selling it back to you for profit.
Hopefully that answered some of your questions about domain names as well.