What’s in a name? How to secure the domain your small business needs to succeed.

website domain graphic

 Securing a unique domain so customers can easily find you online is an essential step for your small business, but it can be a bit daunting if you’re unsure where to start. 

Here, we’ll cover what a domain is, how it differs from domain hosting, what to do if your ideal domain name is unavailable, and what to do if you accidentally let your domain expire. Ready to carve out your own corner of the internet? Let’s get started!

Name Your Domain

When developing your website, you’ll need to come up with a domain. A “domain” is simply the name you give your website. It comes after the www. in your web address or URL. A great domain name is short, simple, relevant to your business, and like your business, it has to be unique. 

Once secured, or registered and paid for, your domain name is no longer available for anyone else to use. Often, business owners choose to use the name of their company, like in the following examples: 

www.google.com

www.dunkindonuts.com

www.apple.com

While in the naming phase, try to come up with several options that work. You might consider a shortened version of your business name, for example. This way, if your top pick isn’t available, you can move on and search for one of your other choices. You want to make sure your name is unique and not associated with any other website. When you do settle on an available name, consider purchasing all of the available extensions so that no one can claim them for their own. 

Choosing the Right Extension

There are several choices when deciding on a domain extension, which is the last part of your domain name.

DON’T be tempted to stick with an unavailable name and just swap the ending from .com to an alternative. Why? According to HubSpot, “if you’re selling services to businesses in more traditional industries, your audience might see a non-dotcom as questionable.” They go on to say that, all other things being equal, choosing a .com extension is still the preferred choice for most brands.

For non-profits, it’s best to use the .org extensions which stands for organizations. It’s widely recognized for that business type and offers more credibility for charities, groups, and non-governmental organizations.

Domain Ownership

When you purchase your domain name, make sure the account contact details are your own. If an employee or web developer uses their information for the account, they’re the domain owner, and that can open up a host of legal issues. Always make sure you are the domain name owner – and have the proof to back it up.

It’s important to note that a domain name and a domain host are not the same, but you need both to have a website. You can purchase domains from sites that sell them – there are a number of them. You aren’t required to use one company for domain name registration and hosting, but you can. Two popular companies that offer both are Namecheap and GoDaddy.

Claim Your Domain 

What should you do if your domain choice is unavailable? You can offer to purchase the domain from the registered owner.  To find out who the owner is, you can check here or here. Another option is to set up a monitor on the domain you would like to own. If the site becomes available, a monitoring service will let you know right away, so you don’t miss the opportunity to buy.

Maintain Your Domain 

Your domain name is registered for a set period of time – usually from one to ten years. You will need to renew your registration before the expiration date to avoid losing your domain name. If this should happen, contact your registrar immediately – this is the company you purchased the domain through. In most cases, there is a renewal grace period during which you can renew without penalty. After that, you can continue while incurring fees, and they will also put your domain up for auction. If you do not renew within your window, your domain name could be sold to the highest bidder. Don’t let this happen – put measures like calendar reminders in place and keep an eye out for renewal notices via email from your registrar. 

At J2 Technology SOLUTIONS, we know your website is a crucial tool – one that small businesses can’t do without. As web design specialists with over 15 years of experience, we can help you select your domain and host it as well. Plus, we can build and manage your website, ensure that it’s always reachable, loads quickly, and has the latest security measures.

Contact us today to learn more about how you can make the most significant impact online – with no contract fees, ever!

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