What is a Domain Name and How to Pick One

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A domain name is the name of your website that is followed by an extension like .com, .biz, .org, .us, etc. “Google.com” is a domain name, but “Google” by itself is not.

There are many things to consider when choosing a domain name. Below is a list of things to keep in mind before you select a domain name.

Brand Recognition
You want a domain name that is going to associate your brand with your domain name. Stay away from the abstract. For example, say you are a photographer.You could pick a domain name like “ThingsThatITakePicturesOf.com” or you could pick “JohnDoePhotography.com” as your domain name.

Clearly the second one (with your name replacing ‘John Doe’) is going to be more memorable in your potential customers’ minds than the first one. Using your name will also help people find you in the search engines who know your name.

To Dash or Not to Dash?
Dashes are completely acceptable in domain names. However, you are counting on potential site visitors remembering that there is a dash in the middle of your domain name. Whenever possible, avoid using dashes in your domain name.

Avoid Easy Misspellings
Avoid purchasing a domain name that can easily be misspelled. For example “AccommodationsInMyCity.com” as a domain name is likely to get misspelled when people are looking for you. There are two solutions to this problem:

1) Change the domain name to something that won’t get misspelled such as “LodgingInMyCity.com”
2) Purchase every likely misspelling as well as your primary domain name and have the misspelled domain names forward automatically to your actual site. So for the example of “AccommodationsInMyCity.com”, you would also purchase the domain names: “AcommodationsInMyCity.com” “AccomodationsInMyCity.com” “AcomodationsInMyCity.com” “AccommadationsInMyCity.com”,and so on. Then you would have your webmaster forward them all to your actual site.

Clearly solution #1 is much more simple.

What Does it Cost to Purchase a Domain Name?
Typically a .com, .org, .biz, .info, .us domain name should cost $20 or less per year. Remember you will need to renew your domain name every year or buy several years at a time. Either way, they do expire, so keep an eye on this. Most domain registrars offer auto-renewal of your domain name, so choose that option if you can.