Creating business websites & Google advertising to boost your sales

Choosing a Domain Name

Sep 11th, 2009 | By | Category: Marketing

domains-75A valued client called me on his cell from his car. His friend was going out on his own after years in high-tech, would I help? My client could not remember the domain name exactly, so I typed in several guesses and described the results as my client wove through Los Angeles traffic. No luck, we couldn’t find the site. I waited for the call from his friend “Phillipe.”

Philippe had been advertising on Google for 10 days when he called. He had nearly 50 clicks, but had sold nothing. It took me several tries to find his site because the domain name is not spelled the way it sounds. He did not know why visitors were abandoning his site, or where in the process they clicked away. I explained Google analytics to him and he grabbed the code and sent it to his e-commerce website developer. The analytics were running the next day, and will help him pinpoint where his visitors are bailing out.

Philippe is a very bright guy who moves with the speed of an entrepreneur, but he skipped over some important marketing foundation work. His new company is selling brand-name products to consumers. He is in competition with Dell, Apple and Best Buy.

You only have four lines to make your pitch on Google: a headline, 2 lines of text, and your company name. Don’t waste 25% of your advertising real estate on a meaningless domain name.

Well, it’s not meaningless to Philippe, it’s his son’s nickname. It reminds Philippe why he is working so hard and taking such a big risk. But it does not tell shoppers what he sells. Your domain name DOES NOT HAVE TO MATCH your company name. It would have been wiser to name his company Sonny, Inc. and use Electronics-Cheap.com on his website and in his advertising.

In 1960, the word McDonald’s did not mean “burgers.” McDonald’s spent millions getting people to associate that name with burgers. How much money did Burger King spend getting people to associate their name with burgers? Zero. Your domain name is a crucial part of your advertising message.

You can also advertise on more than one domain name. For example, Gould Stainless Products sells manways to wine tank fabricators. It’s their big moneymaker in California. They advertise their stainless valves over the name GouldStainless.com, but they advertise their manways over the domain name TankDoors.com, which I arranged for them. Much more effective for that line of products.

Make the first word the most important word. Tank-repairs.com is stronger than AcmeMetalFabricating.com. Fancy words don’t make good domain names.

Find the shortest, most memorable domain name you can. Make sure it is easy to spell when people hear it on the phone. No silent letters like Schultz.com, Shultz.com, Schulz.com, Shults.com.

I strongly recommend getting a domain name BEFORE starting the website. Flicker.com would have been MUCH better than flickr.com. People don’t remember .net and .org very well, so don’t make them your first choice.

Hyphens work well in Google advertising, but not for e-mail addresses. Electronics-cheap.com is a great name to use in your advertising, but the website and e-mail address should be the company name. As long as the advertising isn’t deceptive, this can work in Google advertising.

I like to lock up similar domain names so they they don’t fall into the hands of competitors. For example, I reserved GardenWeaver.com, GardenWeaverDesign.com, and garden-weaver.com. You know which one I used for the website and e-mail, but all three names are valuable. Get McDonalds, MacDonalds, McDonald (singular) and MacDonald. Did you know that domain names are not case sensitive? I capitalize them so they are easy to read and understand.

Where do you search? I don’t use GoDaddy to search for available domain names because they seem to disappear the following day. Try DomainBank.net, DomJax or AJAXwhois You don’t have to register the domain name where your shop for it.

Happy hunting. Call me if you need some ideas.

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