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Old 29th July 2008, 04:43 AM
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The Right Domain Name Can Win New Clients

The Right Domain Name Can Win New Clients

Thomas Gaudio 7/28/2008

Companies should choose a Web address that is short and to the point


When Kimberlee Williams, co-owner of marketing consultancy Femworks LLC, tried to register as the company’s domain name, she ran into a problem familiar to small-business owners. Someone who had already registered the name, but was not using it, was selling the Internet address for an inflated price, referred to as the after-market.
The person was “not going to sell the name for less than $2,500,” says Williams. She and Tamara Fleming-Cooper, co-owner of Newark-based Femworks, which provides marketing services to companies trying to reach the lesbian and gay community, opted instead to register The charge is $1.99 for a year.

Williams considers the name to be “less intuitive” than the company’s first choice for those trying to find Femworks online, but she doesn’t think it has impacted business significantly. Last month the company spent $10 to renew the Web name through domain-name registration firm for five years, Williams says.

With it becoming routine for people to search online for companies and their offerings, domain names are something that businesses should “give a lot of thought to in their early stages,” says Mark Beck, vice president of The Boulevard Group, Inc., a Web site design firm based in Long Valley, whose clients include lawyers and retailers. “That’s your business name on the Internet.”

American Photographic Instrument Company, Inc. got a lesson in online marketing several years ago when Richard Roberts, owner of the Passaic-based maker of aluminum telescopic products, registered a domain name for the company.

He says he tried to register but it was taken,

so he instead registered and branded the company online as X-Tend Technologies. “I figured X-Tend, like ‘extend,’ meaning we deal with tubing that extends,” says Roberts.

“I thought I was going to be cute. In the end, I’m not quite sure that was the best way to go,” he says, noting that customers may have a hard time finding the company online.

Shorter is usually better when it comes to domain names, says Anita Campbell, owner of small-business consultancy Anita Campbell Associates Ltd. in Medina, Ohio. But most of the three- and four-letter names for the inside portion of the domain name, known as the second-level domain, with ‘dot-com’ at the end have been taken, she says.

Beck recommends using ‘dot-com’ at the end of domain names, the part known as the top-level domain. Dot-com is “far and away the most popular” choice for a top-level domain, and it’s the most recognizable, he says. Other top-level domains include ‘dot-net,’ ‘dot-biz,’ and ‘dot-org.’

Femworks’ Williams says the ‘dot-net’ top-level domain “looks cheap to me. It looks second-rate.”

Another factor to keep in mind when choosing a domain name is making sure it is “easy to remember and say,” says Beck. “Avoid names you have to explain like Is it f-o-r, the number four or the number four spelled out? The more time it takes you to explain, the more ineffective it will be.”

He says using a domain name like “will help to a certain degree on search engines like Google. But I always caution clients to not make major business decisions based on what search engines are doing now,” Beck says. “They’re famous for changing their algorithms [formulas used to order search results]. They tweak them regularly.”

Using keywords in a company’s domain name could be beneficial if the business is trying to grow locally and mixes in a geographic reference such as, although a company should probably use a smaller area than a state, says Campbell.

It’s also a good idea to register the same second-level domain with different first-level domains, and common misspellings of the second-level domain, as “defensive measures” against unscrupulous people looking to siphon Internet traffic, she says. But beware the danger of “going too far. You don’t want to be domain rich and cash poor,” Campbell says.

Campbell says to register your own name as the second-level domain if you’re “holding yourself out as an expert, for purposes of personal branding.” Potential clients, who may not be aware of the company name, are probably “searching [online] for your name.”

She practices what she preaches. The domain name for Campbell’s business is “There are a lot of Anita Campbells around. I want to be the Anita Campbell.” With that domain name, if someone punches ‘Anita Campbell’ into a search engine, will likely appear higher than, say,, she says.

Some larger companies have Web sites and domain names for specific brands such as Proctor & Gamble’s, which is dedicated to the company’s line of Tide laundry detergent. Although the strategy can be expensive and may not make sense for every business, Campbell says small companies should register domain names for products and services if they “went to the extent of getting trademarks.”
Williams says Femworks has registered another domain name——because it was a way to incorporate the company’s slogan, ‘Reach. Build. Empower.’ into “our Web presence.” The site is not currently active, but Femworks plans to use it to offer industry information and connections through blogs and other online social-networking tools.

Femworks may not have been willing to pay for the original domain name it wanted, but Campbell says buying an expensive Internet address in the after-market could be worth it. She says one of her clients, The Karcher Group, a Web site developer based in North Canton, Ohio, paid $15,000 for from an individual who had owned the name for a couple of years. The Karcher Group felt it was worth the price because they wanted to use the short name in traditional marketing efforts, such as billboard advertising, so potential customers would have something to “quickly remember.” “If you’re going to do a lot of offline promotion, it might be worth it to spend $15,000 for a better name,” Campbell says.

Beck says small businesses can save money by having their “credit cards in hand” when domain-name shopping so they can scoop up available addresses before they’re taken and re-sold at higher prices.

Companies that register domain names include Network Solutions, based in Herndon, Va.; The Go Daddy Group, Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and New York City-based, Inc., according to Marina del Rey, Calif.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the not-for-profit that accredits domain-name registering firms.
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