By Isaac Irvine
If you own a business, choosing a great domain name is one of the most important steps you’ll take to build a strong online identity. A unique address that represents a website, your domain name is the part of the address that follows the “www.” in an address bar or after the @ symbol in an email address. Your domain is how people remember and revisit your site.
You’ll probably have lots of questions when you set out to choose a domain name for your online business presence. Questions like “What keywords should I use? Is this name too long? Should I pick a .com or what?” It’s a big decision.
Fortunately, the continuing rollout of hundreds of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) to the online marketplace makes it easier than ever before to pick the perfect domain name. These descriptive new domain extensions—such as .lawyer, .guru, .vegas and .dentist, just to name a few—give you a fresh opportunity to register domains that perfectly represent what you and your business are all about.
Use gTLDs to brand your business online
Many times, people end up choosing domain names based primarily on their availability. Because the popular .com, .net and .org domain extensions have been around for so long, it’s often tough to register a short, memorable domain name with these extensions. If they can’t get the .com version of their preferred name, for instance, a lot of people will add hyphens and other special characters to “make it work.” They may not want to buy a domain with a special character in it, but they are so set on an idea that they’re willing to compromise the fluidity of their brand for the specific name.
But staying true to your brand — not to mention making it as easy as possible for consumers to find you on the Web — is key to success online.
The new gTLDs make finding brand- and industry-specific domains much easier. You now can define your business online by tagging your brand name with the appropriate domain extension. The result? At a glimpse, potential customers can understand what your site is about and the services you offer.
Actor Oleg Taktarov, star of 15 Minutes, Rollerball, and Predators, said the new extensions “are fantastic for branding yourself or your business. People breaking into the [entertainment] business can easily market themselves with a .actor domain for their website and show the world that they are in the trade.”
Get found with gTLDs
Another big advantage of these new domain extensions is that you can use them geographically if you’re a local business. With extensions specific to geographic areas including cities, countries and continents—like .nyc—you can make it easy for local customers to find your products and services (i.e. your business) online. A hot commodity, the .nyc domain is reserved for New Yorkers. Any person, business, or organization with a physical address within the five boroughs can register a .nyc address.
Alison Harris, who owns the Harris Sinclair Real Estate Team in Savannah, took advantage of the new .homes domain extension to help people find her business online. “My clients don’t search for me online; they search for homes in Savannah,” she said. “Having a domain with the name of my business isn’t as effective as say, Savannah.homes. The new gTLDs are great for getting domains that have the same keywords that my customers are searching for.”
What’s more, a website address that ends in one of the new domain extensions might help interested customers find your website via a search engine. While Google doesn’t currently index these new extensions higher than the their .com counterparts, that could change. Search engines aim to produce the most relevant results, and if they notice these new extensions trending and appearing more often in the search rankings, chances are, they’ll use them.
Even if you’ve already got a website ending in the more traditional .com, .net or .org, consider getting a website address that ends in a gTLD. You can easily redirect this more relevant and memorable domain to your main site to get greater visibility, more traffic, and, ultimately, more customers.
Isaac Irvine is a California native who moved to Arizona about seven years ago to work for GoDaddy, where he now serves as a manager of Customer Care Communications. He loves helping small businesses succeed online. In his spare time, Isaac builds Star Wars costumes and rides his bike. Connect with Isaac on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.