Choosing the right domain for an ecommerce business can be one of the most crucial decisions around branding, marketing and developing your business. Get this right, and people will find your site more easily, remember your brand quicker, and you’ll see more business coming in your virtual doors. So, how to choose and register a domain name?
Include Your Keywords in Your Domain
A website with its primary keyword in the domain name will be guaranteed to do better in SEO for that keyword versus a site with a non-related domain name. For example, the website www.smartbuyglasses.com sells sunglasses and eyeglasses; whenever a user searches for “glasses” or “buy glasses” or a varaition of these keywords, the www.smartbuyglasses.com site will be near the top of organic search rankings, as these keywords are right there within the domain name, indicating to search engines that this website is specifically relevant to those keywords. What about Amazon.com I hear you say? While Amazon (and other well known websites) don’t have any real keywords in their name, they do have massive marketing budgets which allow them to win in other ways. Unless you have Amazon’s budget, do yourself an SEO favour by choosing a domain with your keyword inside.
Which Top-Level Domain?
A top-level domain (TLD) is the .com or .org etc listed after your domain name. If you are purely focussing on a local market, say Hong Kong for example, you may wish to simply use the .hk TLD and project to your customers that you are a local and trustworthy business. If you are chasing a regional or global audience you may wish to use the .asia or the .com TLD, depending on the brand identity that you want to project to your customers. As domains are fairly cheap, it is probably worth while buying all of these and split testing which results in more traffic. You can always direct all of your TLDs back to the same site, and it is safer to control your domain with a number of TLDs in case your competition buys them, or you decide to enter new markets later on. Generally speaking, you should aim for the .com and/or the local TLD of the markets you are operating in, and avoid the other TLDs unless you have a specific reason for using them (you may use a .org if you are a non-profit for example).
Your Domain Not Available?
What if your chosen domain is already taken in the .com TLD? You have a couple of options; choose a different TLD (like .net or .asia) and hope you can outrank the .com eventually, or change your expectations for your domain. You may wish to go with a miss-spell or an alternative use or order of keywords within your domain.
Personally speaking, if there were already a well established .com website out there, I would not want to develop and market my brand in competition with them; you may find you work hard to get your brand known, all to send traffic accidentally to the original .com domain and not to yours.
Get brainstorming and pull out a thesaurus to help you find synonyms to your keywords and verbs that you wish to include in the domain; perhaps you can restructure the name and grab that domain in your required TLD.
Googling your preferred domain name is also a good idea; you may find your domain is owned by someone who is not really using it, and willing to sell it to you for a reasonable price. Sites like GoDaddy.com and others often have an “auction” facitility for buyers and sellers of domains to come together and settle on a price for premium domain titles.
Domains and Trademarks
Just because you own the domain, doesn’t mean you also have the right to use these words in your logo or other business activities. It is wise to check your chosen business brand and domain against your country’s trademark registry, to ensure that you don’t accidentally infringe on another person or company’s intellectual property. Doing so could have legal consequences and may delay or reduce the possibility of your business starting up and becoming successful under that name.
On the other hand, once you have decided on your name, logo and domain, you should consider applying for trademarks to secure your intellectual property within the markets you operate. As each legal jurisdiction is different, it will be prudent to get some professional advice on filing for trademarks and protecting your IP assets. This will help you to legally defend your business as necessary, and will also add value to your company should you wish to sell in the future.