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How to choose a domain name?

You, or the company you represent, have decided that you need to establish a web site. Maybe you have a new product you want to promote, or maybe your company needs to sell to a wider audience. Whatever the reason, you want to get a web site. The first thing you will need to do is choose a domain name – your own address on the World Wide Web.

A domain name consists of two parts, the name itself, and then the Top Level Domain, or TLD. This is the part that follows the period, or dot. For example, .com, .net or .biz are TLDs. There are many different TLDs, some reserved for particular uses, for example .gov for U.S federal, state or local government organizations. Others are intended for use in particular countries, for example .co.uk or .co.jp, which are used mainly by companies operating in the United Kingdom and Japan respectively. However, there are many others available; a full list of TLDs and who can use them is available at http://www.icann.org/tlds/ or at http://data.iana.org/TLD/tlds-alpha-by-domain.txt.

The first choice for most companies choosing a domain name will be the company name itself, in the form of companyname.com. If you are lucky, you will find that the domain name is unregistered. However, since the .com TLD is so popular, there is a good chance that this will already have been registered by someone else. If this is so, then maybe companyname.biz or companyname.net are still available. Or maybe you are not based in the United States, and can use one of the country-specific TLDs. By the way, most of the country-specific TLDs don’t require that you live or work in that country, although a few do.

If none of those choices are available then you will have to get inventive. As a general rule, a shorter name is better than a longer one, as it is easier to memorize. The domain name “joesautopartsstorefortlauderdaleflorida.com” may be very descriptive of what you do and where you are, but most people would not want to have to type a name like that into their browser. Remember when choosing a domain name that letters, numbers and dashes are the only symbols that can be used, and that JoesAutos is the same as joesautos – the Internet is not case-dependant.

One place to start is to add a dash to the name, so that instead of yourcompany.com, you have your-company.com. Or alternatively, you could be A1yourcompany.com, although this is getting over-used nowadays. You could try using a name or term associated with your field of business as part of the domain name too.

One final word of warning, try to stay away from well-known trade names or business names. Most big companies do not like to see one of their trade names being used as a domain name. In the past there was a chance that a big company would pay a premium to buy a domain name from a user, but those days are gone. Nowadays, expect to receive a stiff letter from a law firm telling you to “cease and desist”.

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