What’s in a name? Create the right business presence with the right name

If you still remember your high school Shakespeare, you may recall the famous question “What’s in a name?” His answer: “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

While names may not have mattered much to Shakespeare – especially during those simpler, pre-Internet times, the right name today can make quite an impact. And if you’re a new business trying to create a presence for yourself online, the right domain name can play a huge role in your online success.

So, what’s in a (domain) name?

Ask yourself this: would Amazon.com have smelled so sweet to so many millions of customers if it was just an IP address, like 176.12.254? Choosing the right domain name is an important decision. It’s not only the main way potential customers will find your business’s website, it’s your digital calling card; and it may serve as the very first impression you make on your clients.

Business name or keywords?

When choosing a domain name, consider what works best for where your business is right now.

If you’re already well-established offline, it probably makes sense to use the business name as your domain name. (Tip: if people often misspell your company’s name, you may want to also register additional domain names with variations on your name.)

But if you’re a really small business just starting out – say you create custom dolls – you may want a name that uses keywords that describe what you do or the outcomes of your business – something like “dolls4you.com.” Be sure to research the popularity of relevant search terms and phrases.

Some other things to consider:

· Keep it simple and keep it short so it’s easy to remember.

· Think about how you can also use your domain name in marketing and promotion materials.

· If you’re using keywords, be on the lookout for unintended phrases: customers might not read “workofart.com” in the way you intended.

.Com or .ca?

In Canada, businesses can choose a “.ca” domain extension instead of the more common “.com”. But should you? If being recognized as a Canadian company is a selling point for your business, and if you do all of your business in Canada, “.ca” may be the way to go. Search engines use the “.ca” domain to identify a Canadian website when Canadians search for businesses in Canada, and you’ll rank higher in their search results by default.

If your markets are international, however, you’ll probably want to use “.com”. It’s the world’s most commonly used extension and will ensure you come up in searches done outside of Canada. You can also hedge your bets and buy both domain extensions, and redirect one domain extension to the other.

Register it

Once you’ve decided on a name, find a registrar to register your domain. A great place to start is the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, which is pretty much Canada’s “go-to” for all things domain, including finding out if someone is already using a domain name, directing you to a registrar right for you and almost any other information you need to establish your very own domain name.

Remember to renew it

Once you register a name, don’t forget to renew it. There are all kinds of cautionary tales about domain names getting into the wrong hands, including a recent news story about “Motherisk.org”, a domain name operated by the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. The name expired, and people searching for information about pregnancy risks are instead being directed to the website of a cannabis company out of Florida, who purchased the name.

Another entertaining illustrates that forgetting to renew registration can happen to anyone. Just ask Sanmay Ved, a former Google employee who put the company’s name into the search bar, and discovered the domain was available for a mere $12.

In disbelief, Ved submitted payment and was shocked to receive confirmation that he now owned the domain, Google.com, along with some sensitive company information. Fortunately for Google, Ved immediately alerted the company and Google took their name back – compensating Ved $12,000 for his honesty.

What’s in a name? Potentially, a few thousand dollars…and the success of your company!




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