February 16, 2009

The Power Of The Domain Name

I bought my first domain name ... ever the other day. I know, its kind of sad, I've been a geek this long and have never bought a domain name. I've always used my ISP's free FTP space to store my personal web page and shared files. So, I had the annoyingly long URLs like:

http://bellsouthpwp.net/x/a/xabbu/joshweddingportfolio.html or

http://www.themostspectacularlylargebusinessname.com/thissubdirectorythattheyhavewhereistoremystuff/joshuaself/mypersonalfiles/index.html~314159265

Yea, that's easy for a potentially paying client to remember you by... Maybe they'll just visit the guy with the website URL that they can remember: joesmithphotography.com. (photo by dro—ód on Flickr)

So, I finally bought joshuaselfphotography.com, suctionhorse.com, and theweddingphotogblog.com for my photography (mostly wedding) business website and my wedding photography blog. I bought it through GoDaddy and it was probably the easiest thing I've ever done. Now I need to get a nice website built and throw it up on joshuaselfphotography.com.

So, I thought I'd share some tips on finding a good / useful domain name tips and secrets that I have found out recently. First, domain name trivia!:

What is the Domain Name System?

The Domain Name System (DNS) helps users to find their way around the Internet. Every computer on the Internet has a unique address – just like a telephone number – which is a rather complicated string of numbers. It is called its "IP address" (IP stands for "Internet Protocol").

But it is hard to remember everyone's IP address. The DNS makes it easier by allowing a familiar string of letters (the "domain name") to be used instead of the arcane IP address. So instead of typing 192.0.34.65, you can type www.icann.org. It is a "mnemonic" device that makes addresses easier to remember. (photo by Collin Anderson on Flickr)

Translating the name into the IP address is called "resolving the domain name." The goal of the DNS is for any Internet user any place in the world to reach a specific website IP address by entering its domain name. Domain names are also used for reaching e-mail addresses and for other Internet applications.

fromthe InterNIC website

  • Technicians at the University of Wisconsin developed the first 'name server' in 1984. With the new name server, users were no longer required to know the exact path to other systems (using long IP addresses). And thus the birth of the current addressing system in use today. A year later the Domain Name System was implemented and the initial top-level domain names, including .com, .net, and .org, were introduced. Suddenly 121.245.078.2 became 'company.com'.
  • Today there is an estimated 19 million domain names registered, with forty thousand more registered every day. The Internet continues its unprecedented growth into the stratosphere and there is really no end in sight.

  • Where it used to cost $100 / year it now costs only $7.00 or less to register a domain name and some companies provide discounts for purchasing their other products (web hosting, spam blocker, email, etc...)
  • Squatting and reselling of domain names has become BIG business recently. I know some people who do this exclusively for their job and make GOOD money!

So, here are some steps for finding the best domain name for you or your business:

  1. research, research, research your domain name. Does anyone else have something close? Keep brainstorming until something original and catchy comes out!
  2. Think about SEO and how being descriptive with your name will help increase traffic to your site. Use at least one descriptive word in your domain name. (ie. Net"Flix".com, photographyblog.com, bigcupcoffee.com, Lloydsrestaurant.com)
  3. pick the least amount of words possible to make your domain. The smaller the name, the easier it is to remember! (de.licio.us, ebay.com, YouTube.com)
  4. try pick a catchy / rhyming / cleaver name but keep it simple. Stay away from complicated / alternate spellings, try not to use dashes "-" or other special characters.
  5. ".com" is the MOST popular and quickest remembered by the public, followed by ".net" and ".org". The average person will confuse or forget domain extensions like ".info", ".biz", ".me" and ".mobi" but, if you do buy the ".com", go ahead and buy the rest of them. This keeps your personal brand and name safe so no one can steal it in the future and blackmail you trying to sell it back to you. Then have the rest of them 301 redirected back to your ".com"
Just remember, your domain name is your image, brand, business, and personality all in a little nutshell. It will determine if someone will be interested enough to click on a link to your site or pass it by. Follow Step 1 until you get it perfect!

I hope these have helped you guys out in your domain name hunt. Do you have a tip that would help our readers out in finding a good domain name? Please leave a comment and help out the community!
(photo by twinsparc)

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