Choosing a Website Domain Name

The very first step of setting up any website is choosing its domain name. The doman website is in essence the letters you type in to go there. For example the domain name of this site you are on is LisaShea.com.

Your website MUST have its own, unique, easy to remember, easy to type domain name. If you set up your business as www.aol.com/jillsqualitygoodsandproducts as part of a free AOL site, for example, that does not give a professional image to your work.

The magic of the web is that your site can look just as "real" as a site by WalMart, and give you the same "I am a professional business you can work with" impression, even if you work out of your house. The end user has no idea what is behind your website. They judge you by your website. This starts with the domain name they see on your business card, in all your email messages and every time they go to it. It is critical that your domain name have that level of quality.

This is challenging because billions of other people have the same idea and have already bought many of the best names. It might take you some time and creativity to find a combination that is available.

Remember that you are going to be telling people this name over the phone, linking to it in email messages, and networking with people. It MUST be easy to remember and type. Do not have dashes or underlines. Avoid "cute" spellings that you have to explain - the person is likely to mistype the word and end up at your competitor's site. Avoid really long and complicated names. Go for short and sweet. Some sites I own are WineIntro.com and RomanceClass.com. Short, easy, no confusion.

Stay with .COM as much as possible. It is the default name people associate with a quality website. If you go with another extension, people are likely to mistype it as .COM and end up somewhere else.

Yes it can take a week or more of tough searching to find a domain name you like. Stick with it! This is a really important choice you are making and well worth that research.

Choosing a URL which was Prevously Used
Let's say someone else used to own LisaShea.com (which someone did). At some point that other person decided to stop renewing their ownership of the domain name LisaShea.com. The name went back into the "available name" pool. I saw that opportunity and bought the name. I now had rights to LisaShea.com. It does NOT mean I had access to any old content! I did not have any ability to use the old website pictures or words or anything else. All I could do is "point" LisaShea.com at my own new website.

In my case, the old LisaShea.com did not get much traffic so I had no built in advantage there. But let's say a big company owned LetsMakeADeal.com (I am making up names here). Let's say they went bankrupt and gave up on running a website so that name was now available. If you bought the name, and set up a new website, it could be that millions of people a month were going to that URL to play games. Your new site would instantly get tons of traffic because all of those millions of people were still using the URL, following bookmarks, following top google results that went to that URL. So there can be a lot of benefit in buying a URL that used to be used by someone else.

On the other hand, if the previous site was a porn site, then it could cause you huge harm to be associated with the name even though your current content is not porn. It could be that many libraries and businesses have blocked the URL because of its previous content and it could take years to demonstrate to them that you are now a quality site. So if your URL has a history, it's a good thing to do some web searching and find that out.

I use the NetSol Domain Name Search tool to find names that are available to buy. It is an easy to use form. Just type in potential names and the tool will tell you if they are available.

2. Choosing a Domain Name Registrar

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