Is - by any other name - still as sweet?

Is , by any other name, still as sweet?

If you're considering a website for your business, choosing the right name has to be near the top of the list of things to be thinking about!

There are only a few ways for customers to get to your website:

  1. Direct Traffic, typing it in, like

  2. Searching on Google, by typing in something like "roses"

  3. Clicking on a link, on a directory website, or in an article, etc.

They may also see your website name on your company car, on your business card, or even on the sign on your store. All of these would require them to remember it, and then type it into their web browser program, and hopefully with no mistakes!

"Direct Traffic" is like when you call someone, and you already know their phone number. If you dial the number, your friends phone rings. There is no real middle person, no "directory assistance".

The second way for a customer to find your website is by searching on a site like Google. The search engine, which is like directory assistance, will look through its records, and show websites it thinks are close to what you're looking for. You then look at the list of results, and click on a link to see if it gets you where you want to go. If not, you go back to the list and try again. Its not an exact science, but its getting better.

The third option, clicking on a link, means you have to find ways to put your link on places that people will find. This is a lot like putting your business card on a bulletin board. It can work pretty well, too. There are websites that are set up as "business directories" that want you to list your company on. They can be anything from the phone companies yellow pages, on down to a local directory. For example, I have created,, and and I encourage you to sign up there for a free listing.

You may also find a business that is similar to your own, but not a direct competitor. If you trade links with them, it ends up helping both of your customers, and you also may get some business from it as well. Lets say a person is planning a wedding. They find a photographer they like, and on the photographers website is a list of other businesses who also serve wedding customers. There may be a catoring company, a DJ, a florist, etc. Trading links means simply that if I have a link on my website for you, I expect you to put one up for me as well. Only seems fair right?

With all that said, what should you be thinking about when you chose your website's "domain name"? The Domain Name is the actual name of your website, its the address its at, like or

Ok, ready for some theory? Now keep in mind, things change pretty quickly on the internet, so what was a great idea now may not always be perfect next year. And there are as many opinions as there are people!

First we need to know some information about your company:

  • Do you have an established company name / brand already

  • Do you provide a product or service

  • Are you strictly a local business

  • Are you a specialist or a generalist

1. Do you have an established company name / brand already?
Has your company been around long enough so that when people think of your product or service, they think of your company's name? When you think of peanut butter, do you think of Jiffy? That kind of thing. Or are you just one of the places that sells gardening supplies. Your company name may or may not be a good choice for a website domain name.

Here's a good example, from my own experience, of how NOT to do things! Hopefully you can learn from my pain!

I'd been doing wedding photography for a few years, when I moved to Seattle. I was thinking it would be nice to get either out of wedding photography entirely, or at least do some other kinds of photography. I had also been doing wedding video, and was thinking I'd stop doing the video, and just offer photography.

So after playing with some names, I came up with as my new website address. There were some problems with that, however. I didn't realize there was a girls basket ball team called Hotshots, and also a few coffee shops called Hot Shots Java. And it didn't really sound like Weddings were my primary business.

Also, thinking the "Z" at the end would be cool, I probably lost a few people who tried to type it with a "S" at the end.

And even having Seattle in the name kind of worked against me, because the people in Tacoma didn't want to contact me, because they thought I was too far away.

So, should you use just your company name as the website name? It depends on if enough customers know you by that name. Or, will you have people searching for "Tofield tractor repair" instead?

I recently helped a local business set up a website, and after some discussion, we choose the city he most wanted to market too, and the service he provided, as the name of the website. That way, even people who had never heard of him, who typed in the name of the city and the service he provided, his website shows up on the top of the first page of Google. Its too soon to tell if he'll get a lot of business from that, but people spend a lot of time and money trying to get on Google, and he was there in the first week!

2. Do you provide a product, or a service?
Are people more likely to know your company name well enough to look for it directly, or will they be looking for a plumber? If you had a choice between being (who might be a plumber) and, which do you think would be a better choice? I haven't tested either, but I'll bet more people would go to Google looking for a "cheap plumber in Edmonton", since they don't know who Ron is.

Are you starting to see how that works?

3. Are you strictly a local business?
Do you want to be known as the first choice service provider in your community? Put that community name in your website! Like the Edmonton Plumber above. One of my websites for my wedding business was That was when I lived in Wenatchee, where a lot of people knew of the area as "North Central Washington", there was a bank called NCW Bank, etc. So it wasn't a horrible name, but I suspect Wenatchee Wedding Video would have done better! Wish I'd known better then!

And there's no sense accidently attracting the traffic and attention from visitors who are so far away they'll never buy from you. If you tune up cars in Edmonton, you don't need Toronto customers! On the other hand, if you are selling Olympic Hoodies, you don't mind the whole world as your market!

4. Are you a specialist or a generalist?
Something else worth considering would be if you are a specialist in your field. Are people looking for contractor, construction, or bathroom renovations? Dentist or family dentist?

Ok, once you've pondered some of these choices, you have an idea what to start looking for.

You can go to a website like, and type in a website domain name, to see if its been registered already. If your favorite name is already taken, you have some choices. You could change the name a bit. In fact, they will probably give you a list of potential names that are available.

If you've done your homework, you probably have a list of words that work with your business. So it could be,,, Or any of the above without the hyphen "-". Or you could try it with an underscore "_". Just can't use a space between words. Thats a rule.

Some more thoughts - Shorter names are easier for people to type. Less letters make it easier to fit it on the back of your van! Be aware of words that people may mispell.

You can even register several names and variations, if they are all available, and have them all point to the same website. Its the same idea as call forwarding. You call one number, and if no one is there, the phone transfers you to another number. Websites can do the same thing. So if you really want to be, register that, and also register too. Best of both worlds, and it only costs you around $25 a year per name, so not a huge deal. End of the year, you may see that no one likes JoeThePlumber, so maybe you don't renew that name.

That should give you plenty to think about for now!

Any questions? Leave me a comment below, or use the Contact Me page!

By Carlin Comm posted on 2011-03-13 19:55:21