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10 SENSIBLE STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE CHOOSING YOUR DOMAIN NAME

With such a huge growth in the number of websites and the resulting difficulty in finding an available domain name, it is tempting to grab the first one that sounds like it might do the trick. However, a small amount of homework will pay big dividends Ė follow the ten steps below to obtain the optimal domain:

1. AVAILABILITY
If itís not available you canít have it Ė simple!

2. COPYRIGHT
Ensure that you do not breach copyright or infringe trademarks with your choice of domain.

3. EXTENSIONS
Itís widely acknowledged that the best TLD (top level domain) is .com. However, in the UK, web users are more than used to .co.uk so this is equally acceptable for UK websites. If .com isnít available and you use .net instead (for example), check that .com isnít either a competitor or that the .com site content is acceptable! Always try to get the .com, your country TLD or .net in that order. Web users are still not used to .biz or .info.

4. BE GREEDY!
If more than one TLD variant is available, buy as many as you can afford and set them all to point to your website. This is a form of brand protection and prevents unscrupulous competitors trying to cash in on your hard-earned web traffic.

5. BE MEMORABLE
Make sure that potential web users will remember your domain name and that they can spell it properly.

6. BE PRONOUNCABLE
Try telling people your web address over the phone Ė can they understand what you tell them? Or do they give up and try someone elseís website.

7. BE DESCRIPTIVE
If you are a new business, very few people will remember or search for your domain name if it is your company name. Try choosing a domain name that is descriptive of your products instead e.g. cheap.com. Try testing it with a hyphen as well as using just one word.

8. OFFLINE MARKETING
Use your domain name in your offline marketing literature and ensure that it is as visible as possible. However, if your domain name consists of more than one word, that isnít hyphenated, try using capital letters e.g. which is easier to read Ė integratedwebsolutions.com or IntegratedWebSolutions.com? Domain names are not case sensitive so your clients will find your site whichever version they use.

9. BUY YOUR DOMAIN FOR LONGER
Search engines are now looking at less obvious information such as how long you have bought your domain name for. Domain names owned for less than two years are thought to be penalized, so buy your domain for as long as possible.

10. OWN YOUR DOMAIN NAME
If you use a web designer or third party for your domain names, ensure they are registered in your name and that you have a signed agreement with the company that they will release all the details (including password) to you, quibble free, if you choose to move to another design or hosting company.


About The Author
Emma Kalson is the owner of www.littlefishwebdesign.com and has been designing websites for about 10 years.

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