Every local business should have a local business website, and with that website, they should have a unique domain name that represents their business. It’s this domain name, or URL, that’s typed into an Internet browser address bar and pulls up the website for the user, which means the user will associate the URL with your business, and vice-versa.
Save your domain name A.S.A.P.
If you have a local business, even if it’s a small local business, it can look very unprofessional if your domain name doesn’t reflect the name or your business. If you’re new to your business and new to this subject, then first things first, go out to www.godaddy.com or www.domainspricedright.com and see if the domain name you want is available and purchase it. Even if you’re not quite ready to go live with your website, at least you can rest assured that you own the domain name and no one else can use it. If you’ve chosen to hire an expert to design and optimize a website for you, then they will most likely offer this service and save the domain name for you.
Purchase all the extensions.
The preference for most businesses is to own the .com version of the domain name, and it’s also a good idea to purchase the .org and .net versions so others can’t create domain names that are the same as yours with these other extensions. Domain names are relatively inexpensive (less than $10/year), so cost shouldn’t be a factor, and it’s worth it. If the .com version of your name isn’t available, then you can go with one of the other extensions that is available, or look for a different domain name altogether.
Purchase for more than a year or two.
This is IMPORTANT. The following story is a real life example as to why (and the inspiration for this post):
“I made the mistake of letting my domain name expire without realizing it. It was brought to my attention when all of the sudden, I stopped receiving emails associated with the domain. When I went to check it out, it turned out that my automatic renewal didn’t go through because the credit card had expired. I was informed that it would cost me $100 to ‘recover’ the domain name because it had expired and was placed back into the registry. My only options were to wither pay the $100 fee to ‘recover’ the domain name, or take a risk and wait out the 30 days when it would become available again on the Internet for the typical $10.00, at which time someone else could snatch it up and either use it or try to charge me whatever they wanted for it. Obviously, I paid the $100 fee and had my domain back and working again within 24 hours. But I learned my lesson: I will not purchase domain names on an annual basis!”
Again, domain names are not that expensive, so purchase your domain name for at least 5 years, and be sure to have it on a list somewhere to check in on to make sure there are no issues with auto-renewal. Most companies will send you reminders prior to the expiration of domain names, but you don’t want to risk it!
Also, if it does expire, there are several people out there watching for currently used domain names to expire so they can snatch them up and then try to sell them for $500 – $1000. They figure someone will be desperate enough to pay that kind of money, and it’s their prerogative to charge them for it.
Bottom line, you want a unique domain name, and you want to protect it so you don’t risk losing it in the future. Your URL is the first impression many will have when interacting with your business, so you want to be able to choose what most reflects your business, and you want to hold on to it for as long as your local business exists!