Company Name Domain:
If we assume that, for example, you own a web design company located in Boston called Praxis Inc., you may want to register your company name as your domain name: praxis.com. One advantage is that your customers already know your company name and it will be easy for them to remember. Also, a company name domain looks professional when printed in collateral material.
The main disadvantage, especially if you are a small business, is that people won't be able to tell what you do based on your domain name, and it won’t help you very much with the search engines (since some of them use the domain name for cues on what the business does, and to determine its relevance to certain search terms).
Keywords are generic terms related to your field that you believe search engine users will type in the search box to find a company like yours. Since a domain name is usually the anchor text used to link to a site, and anchor text was a very important factor in search engine placement until not so long ago, keyword domains were very popular for a while.
Search engines are evolving and now recognize that people have been abusing the use of keyword-only domains, so they have downgraded their importance in their search algorithms. Keyword domains, though, still have some advantages associated with the growing trend of web users typing a bunch of keywords in the address bar followed by “.com” in their efforts to find relevant websites.
The disadvantages of keyword domains from a branding perspective is that they tend to be long and hard to remember, and look awkward when printed in company collateral material. For example: boston-web-design-company.com may give you a slight edge over praxis.com when it comes to search engine placement or getting direct traffic, however, its branding disadvantages are obvious.
A good compromise, and the solution that I recommend, is to combine your company name with a keyword. For example: praxiswebdesign.com. That will give you the best of both worlds: brand recognition and keyword strength.
- If you are just opening a small business, choose your domain name before you choose your company name. Many times, people have registered their company and then found out that their company name is not available as a domain name.
- By all means, secure a .com domain. It is the default extension and the first one that will come to mind to people trying to remember your domain name. You must try to register at least the three most common variations of your domain name: .com, .net and .org, to prevent unscrupulous competitors from benefiting from your brand equity.
- Registering a domain doesn’t cost a lot of money. In fact, nowadays it is common to find domain names for less than $10 / year. I use Godaddy to register all my domains. (disclaimer: I am also a Godaddy affiliate). They have great prices and a very user-friendly interface.
- Don’t register your domain name with your hosting company. Though it may be tempting to accept their “free” domain registration offer with your hosting package, if one day you want to change hosting companies they will make you jump through hoops to release your domain. Don’t play with your brand: register your domain in an accredited domain registrar and point it to your hosting company’s servers.