Picking a Domain:
What’s in a Name?
When someone wants to get to your site, unless they are clicking on a link, they type an address into their web browser. For example, you may have typed in www.ozdachs.biz to reach the Ozdachs home page.
The “ozdachs.biz” part of the typed in address is called a “domain”. When you start a new site, you get to pick a domain name. You then register that name so whenever anyone, anywhere in the world types its name, your site appears.
You can use almost any name, so long as it’s not already in use and it’s not misleading (you cannot try for a name of another company, for example).
In the United States most domain names end with:
- .biz to indicate a business (but, most businesses use .com)
- .com for any purpose
- .edu for educational institutions
- .gov for government sites
- .info for any purpose
- .org for not-for-profit organizations
- .us for US-based activity, but most commonly used by governmental organizations.
These domain endings are technically named “Top Level Domains” (TLD).
There are many other TLD’s on the Internet. Most commonly these TLD’s are assigned to a specific country. However, small countries with interesting TLD’s sell the right to register a TLD. The nation of Tuvalu, for example, was assigned the TLD of “.tv”. They now make money from broadcasters and others who want a domain ending in “.tv”.
In recent years the domain registration authorities have opened up the TLD to a lot of identifying words. Recent TLDs unleashed as this page was being written are .builders, .buzz, .cab, .camera, .ceo, .finance, .cooking, .vodka, .vegas, .press, .website, .deals, … Check out more TLD details at Wikipedia.
We recommend sticking to the TLD’s listed above in purple. They are the most common and most identifiable to potential customers.
Selecting the perfect domain name is an art. If your site is just for fun or if you do not care if people find you in Internet searches, then you can ignore the following paragraphs and pick whatever name you want. However, if your site should attract new customers, volunteers, visitors, or readers, then you have a bit more work to do!
The most natural domain name is the name of your organization. But, unless your business has a famous name (say, “IBM”), use words that describe your service, product, or mission instead.
Your name should highlight the words people will type into Google. Some of our clients site names are www.SanFranciscoAccountants.com, www.criminallawyerssanfrancisco.com, and www.Sun-Valley-vacation-rental.com.
The reason for selecting domain names like these is because search engines put sites with recognizable words in their addresses high on the results lists. Google ranks www.Ashland-vacation-rental.com high in searches for “Ashland vacation rental”.
Once you have a name or two you like, check out if it is available.
If the .com version is already taken, consider if .info or .biz works for your organization. Of course, if you are a non-profit, you may prefer a name that ends in .org.