What Is A Domain, And Why Does My Small Business Need One?
Owning a domain for your small business adds authority and legitimacy. Even if your business is primarily a brick-and-mortar operation, having a dedicated website with a unique domain is absolutely necessary.
Fisherman's tech and marketing experts have gathered tips for setting up a small business domain. This is must-have knowledge for anyone operating their own business.
Four top tips for choosing a small business domain name
1. Purchase your domain through a reputable service like Google Domains or GoDaddy.
Purchase your domain through established, reputable services like GoDaddy or Google Domains (Fisherman Websites offers this service as part of our website signup to keep you secure). It’s the only way to ensure you purchase a legitimate web domain. If the domain name you want isn’t available, don’t try to purchase it somewhere else. I shouldn’t be the first to tell you that there are loads of scams on the internet, including some that will try and take advantage of people buying small business domain names. These scammers may try to sell you a domain that you can’t have because it isn’t theirs to sell. It’s better to settle for a different domain name than to risk trying to purchase the name you want from a potential scammer.
2. Keep your domain on auto-renew to avoid having it expire and having your website go down.
Everyone has their own system for paying bills, but you can’t afford mistakes when hosting your domain. A single forgotten payment can result in your website going down. Sure, it’ll go back up again as soon as you pay that bill, but what if someone tries to visit your page when it’s down? An expired domain makes visitors assume you are out of business. This can be catastrophic, especially if your business relies on word-of-mouth. If everyone assumes you’re out of business, it won’t be long before that assumption becomes a reality. Obviously, this is an extreme version of events, but why risk it? Make sure your domain is set to auto-renew and avoid this headache.
3. Try adding your city name or state abbreviation if the domain you want is unavailable.
If your business has a fairly normal name, it is likely; the domain is already taken. If so, you need to know how best to differentiate yourself. Adding unnecessary letters or numbers is a big no-no. (If *coffeeshop.com* is unavailable, don’t just choose *coffeeshop2.com*.) Finding the simplest and most natural way to make your domain unique is key.
If the domain you want isn’t available, consider adding your city or state. It highlights the locality of your business and helps differentiate you to your customer base. A domain like *LAcoffeeshop.com* is much cleaner and more professional than *coffee-shop2.com*.
4. Choose a normal TLD (top-level domain), .com, .net, .org as opposed to an obscure TLD (unless it applies to your branding, like .coffee, or location .la, .ca)
If your desired domain is taken, resist changing the top-level domain. The top-level domain (or TLD) is the last part of your web address, like *.com* or *.org*. Most of the time, it’s not worth trying to use a less-popular TLD like *.biz*, but maybe not for the reasons you’d expect.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with lesser-known TLDs. A *.biz* domain is just as legitimate as a *.com* one, and there are no SEO consequences. But imagine you’re a potential customer searching for your business online: if you see *coffeeshop.com* and *coffeeshop.biz*, which of these two are you clicking on? If the *.com* version of the domain is being used by a business similar to yours, you are better off finding a unique *.com* domain rather than using a different TLD.
There are just a few exceptions to this guideline! If the *.com* version of your desired domain name is unavailable but inactive, or the content is unrelated to your business, then a more obscure TLD is less likely to harm you. Certain unique TLDs related to your branding or location, like *.coffee* or *.ca,* are also generally fine.
Three common small business domain mistakes to avoid
1. Change your domain. The longer a domain is active, the more “authority” it has with search engines. (exception being if you change your branding).
Once you decide on a domain, be prepared to stick with it. The longer a domain is active, the more legitimacy and authority it has. This can help with your ranking on search engines. It also allows clarity for everyone already familiar with your domain. The only exception is if you change branding in a major way. If you change the mission or name of your business, you may want a new domain to help give your business a fresh start.
2. Only use a subdomain (having a site on a subdomain, i.e., mybusiness.squarespace.com, will hurt your domain authority compared to a regular domain). A subdomain is when your domain name shows as a prefix to another name, such as coffeeshop.squarespace.com. This is common in low-cost and free tiers of web hosts, which is why we recommend against it. Having a subdomain damages your authority and can make your website appear unprofessional.
3. Choose a very long domain name (most users will not be direct traffic/typing it manually but keep it shorter for this purpose). A brief, memorable domain name is less necessary now than it was. These days, most users don’t manually type in web addresses. That said, a shorter domain name is still more marketable and convenient. Ultimately, there’s no advantage to having an overly-long domain name, so keep it succinct.
Other small business domain questions to consider
How do I get a domain name for my small business?
- You can purchase a domain through a domain name registrar like GoDaddy or Google Domains. You can also get a small business domain through Fisherman, who will help build your perfect website.
What is a good business domain name?
- Generally, the best business domain names are short and easy to remember. Most often, your domain should identify your business immediately. The best domain for a business depends on many factors, including your industry, location, and more.
What is a small business domain?
- A domain is the most identifiable part of your small business’s web address. This is one way in which customers can access your business website. Often, the domain name is the same as the company name, like Apple.com. In other cases, the domain may contain additional information.
In conclusion, it’s critical to be intentional when choosing a domain for your small business. Take the time to research and decide what will work best for you in the long term, and consider how your small business will grow and need a domain to grow with it.