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5 mistakes people make when buying a domain name

Your domain name should be easy to remember, say and type. Avoid dashes, underscores, or attaching INC, LLC, and etc. to the end of it. Try to stick with dot-com and avoid not so common extensions.

Don’t purchase a domain name until you read this, and if you already have, make sure you haven’t made one of these five mistakes.

Buying a domain name with an uncommon extension

You might have purchased a domain name with an uncommon extension such as .biz or .us because .com was already taken. In this case, I would say to you, “don’t settle for sloppy seconds, get a dot-com.” Why dot-com? Because this is the most recognized domain name extension visitors often assume a website will end with. So go with the flow, don’t cause them to stumble to your competitor’s site because they had dot-com and you had dot-something-else.

My advice is: if someone has your dot-com, get something unique, perhaps a keyword rich domain name, as I’ll talk about later. For others, depending on what you do, alternative extensions are a good idea. The following are some great options if you fit the category:

  • .gov – for government entities
  • .org – for organizations
  • .edu – for educational entities

Here’s a few more that work if you specifically and strictly fit these categories:

  • .net – for Internet only entities
  • .tv – for television shows
  • .us – for all American focused websites

I wouldn’t recommend any of the following extensions, and I will tell you why:

  • .biz – for business sites
  • .info – for information sites

If you’re a business, I feel that it’s unprofessional to go with dot-biz when all the other businesses have dot-com. You don’t see IBM with a dot-biz do you? To me, it says you couldn’t get the official dot-com. In my personal opinion, dot-biz just seems like a small and hobby-like business, and not anything that’s serious.

With the other extension, dot-info is pretty redundant because the web is informational at its core, for the most part, so there’s no need for an extension like this. And as I said before, visitors might miss your site because the extension wasn’t a dot-com.

I would advise if you’re using an uncommon extension, and the dot-com is available, to please buy it today! Then, you can have your new dot-com forward to your current extension. This way you’re fool-proofing any attempts at reaching your website. If the dot-com isn’t available, then a keyword rich domain is in order, I’ll talk about this later.

Buying a domain name with the business’ structure attached to it

The problem with this is: what if your business structure changes? Example: You (QualityCompanyLLC.com) started out as an LLC, but now you’re incorporated, Your domain name no longer matches your business structure. Also, the LLC stumbles the visitors into making a mistake and going to the wrong address because they forgot to type in your business structure at the end of the domain name.

Make it easy for your visitors, drop the business structure part of the domain name. One client told me that to differentiate themselves from a Canadian company with the same name and services, they added the LLC to their domain name. In my opinion, they should have got a keyword rich domain name instead, which I will talk about later.

Buying a domain name that’s hard to say and type

When someone asks you what your domain name is, do you have to repeat it 3 times because the person doesn’t quite get it? Perhaps you have to tell them it’s spelled a different way because you purposely misspelled it. My advice would be to write down a bunch of names, say them out loud, and see which is the easiest to say and type. Try to go for domain names that are:

  • easy to say
  • not too hard to remember
  • no business structures attached
  • something that can’t easily be misspelled
  • a name without hyphens (people might forget to type those)

Even though some successful companies have misspelled domain names, it doesn’t mean it works for everyone. You’re taking a risk when you purposely misspell your name.

Buying a domain name without knowing the yearly renewal cost

I once purchased a domain name for 5 dollars—I thought I got a deal. I assumed that it would renew at the same price. That annual renewal cost for the domain name turned out to be 7 times what I originally paid for.

Just because you can buy a domain name at 5 bucks doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Most companies that sell cheap domains increase the price at renewal. When buying a domain name, look for its yearly renewal price to calculate what you’ll be spending over the long haul.

If you find that you’ve purchased from a register that has a high annual renewal cost, I would transfer that name to another, cheaper, domain register. With some registers, there’s an added benefit of transferring the domain: you get a free one-year extension just for transferring.

Keep in mind that a domain name is just the registration of an address to your website, so don’t spend too much money on it. $50/year is expensive. As of this writing, $15-20 year is reasonable. However, a high-priced name is only justifiable if it actually fits your brand and you can afford it.

It’s always best to purchase a pre-owned domain name through an After Market Service. These services offer buyers security and valuable domains for their companies in exchange for big bucks from the resellers.

Buying a domain name from one place and web hosting from another

It’s always best to have most of your “web stuff” in a single location. The benefits of buying them from the same provider is usually a lower cost and one bill from one source. So, when looking for a domain name, try and find out if they offer web hosting services, and those services include excellent support, go for it. Some domain names are free if you purchase web hosting with them.

Keyword rich domain names—a possible solution to a weak domain

  • If you bought a uncommon extension like .biz, or .info
  • If you have LLC or INC in your domain’s name
  • If people often misspell your domain name

The solution could be found in purchasing a keyword rich domain. A keyword rich domain name is a name that includes the search keywords people use to find products and services like yours. A keyword rich domain name helps push you a little higher on the search listings because it’s keywords are relevant to the user.

A case example

A good illustration of this in action was a potential client of mine. The name of her website was Extension Engine. Before talking with me, she went out and bought the domain name ExtensionEngine.biz because the dot-com was already taken.

I suggested she buy HairExtensionEngine.com because it was available and she gained two benefits from this name: 1) she now had a dot-com and 2) the vital keyword “hair” was in the name.

What she wanted to build was a website where women could go and search for hair extensions from different retailers. It would be a search engine for hair extension retailers. So I suggested that the keyword “hair” needed to be a part of her domain name because that’s what women would be typing in and it was specific to what she was offering. The word “extension” by itself could mean anything and most women looking for hair extensions would not type in extension by itself.

In some circumstances, a keyword rich domain should be your primary domain name. With that in place, your older name or company name would be forwarded to your new name.

As always, these rules can be broken, and you can even use misspelled words for your website address just as long as you market it well, but if you have a hard time getting people to understand your name, it may be time to change it to something easier. So, choose wisely before you buy your next domain name.

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