Whether it’s for your own personal blog, or business website, selecting a good quality domain name is an Important decision. The right choice brings visitors to your site, but its true value comes when they try to find it a second time and didn’t bookmark it.

The Domain Name

Commonly known as your website address, It’s a word, or phrase, that people type to locate your site. At onetime the full address was entered hittp:/(www.), but that’s no longer necessary with the latest browsers.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web. The first part of URL’s Is the protocol Identifier and Insulates how the system searches. The second part Is called a resource name and specifies the domain name where the resource Is located. These two sections are separated by a colon and two forward slashes A URL for ‘Your Website” could be “http://www.yourwebsite.com/".

Extensions

Every domain name has a suffix attached IndlatIng where the site belongs — .ca — Canada, .com — Commercial business, .edir — Educational institutions, .gov — Government agencies, .mil — Military, .net — Network organizations, .org — Organizations (non-profit)

Choose Your Domain Name

Choose a domain name before building your website. Once you’re using a domain name and attracting a steady stream of visitors it’s difficult to change to another name without losing some of the traffic you’ve been enjoying. Finding a name that works for you can be a tedious trial-and-error process, but the time taken up front Is worth the effort.

Domain Names As Website Names

You want people to easily identify your website and the best way of doing this is to have it named the same as its domain name. Having your URL and your name the same, people can quickly relate the website to the address and automatically know where to go.

Length of the Name

Good domain names provide a one to three keyword summary your site Names can be any length up to 67 characters. The shorter you keep your name the easier it is to type with less possibility for mistake.

Hyphenated Names

If you an, keep hyphens, dashes, underscores and other characters out of your domain name. They’re too easy to forget when typing the name, or when people are verbally recommending your site.

Abbreviations

Unless the abbreviation is in your name, or company trademark, and easily identified with you, or what you’re selling, don’t use them How does your domain name sound when you read It over the phone to somebody? If you need to explain abbreviations, spelling hyphens, or other special characters, you’ve got a problem.

Plural Forms

Try not to use the plural form in any domain name. It’s too easy for potential visitors to omit the “s” in the name which means they may never get to your website There’s nothing wrong using “the”, “my” or “and” as long as you promote your site with the full form of the name so people don’t forget to add the necessary “the” in their search.

Extensions other than .COM

The .com extension Is the most identifiable with anyone using the Internet, but It may not be available for the name you’Ve chosen. When using alternates like .net, or .ca remember to promote your website and business with the full domain name, including the extension. You don’t want people searching for you as .com instead of another names.

Registering Your Name

Once you’ve decided on a good domain name, register It. It’s relatively Inexpensive and easy to do. Your chosen web host will normally dolt for you. Even the free web hosts provide registration for a nominal fee If you’re building your site with them.

Finally, no matter what name you’ve chosen, or how many domain names you’ve decided to register, you have to support It Your domain name hasto be Incorporated In your webstte’s logo and shown on all your business cards and stationery. Wherever you an, let your site name be known.

Private Domain Name

Essential Badge of a Professional biz

Perception is so important in business that projecting the wrong image can kill a company even faster than giving bad service or selling substandard products. Few things create a non-professional Image more visibly than public domain names like those provided by companies such as Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. Despite this, many businesses use public domain names for their web presence, others for their email addresses, and some for both. It would be hard to think of worse ways to market a business and to give potential customers the impression that it’s run by amateurs It virtually guarantees that many potential customers won’t even bother to visit the website.

Two vital assets of any business are Its trading name and its location. For a “bricks and mortar” business the physical location has two functions. The first is to make it easy and pleasant for customers to come and visit. The second is to enhance the company’s image — in other words the location must be the best possible place for the particular type of business. After the trading name and the physical location, by far the next most important asset, whether It’s a ‘bricks and mortar” business or a solely online operation, Is the Internet domain name. This should be a dedicated private domain name because a dedicated private domain name is the online equivalent of having a business in the right part of town. In addition, that domain name, which should be used for the website and for email, should closely mirror the trading name. Many business people use free public domains because they think private dedicated ones are prohibitively expensive. They don’t have to be.

Most good web hosting services register and host dedicated domain names for a reasonable fee, and provide a related email facility for an additional fee. Many, like GoDaddy — the world’s number one domain name registrar — offer the option of encrypted email. Some hosting and domain registration companies provide many services free. However, most of these free options have major downsides, which often Include the service provider’s right to place advertising on users’ webpages or at the bottom of their emails These kinds of free services do not project the most professional image possible to customers, so they should be avoided.

Most people know this, yet some business people, who believe in spending money on a good website, don’t believe In spending any on their own domain name. That Is a serious mistake because having an attractive professionally designed website is a waste of time and money without a dedicated domain. The commercial necessity of having a dedicated domain is increasing each day simply because virtually all well-run businesses now have them, and those that don’t stand out like sore thumbs. Potential customers are Intuitively aware of this and see a shared domain name as being like a road sign directing them to the shabby end of town.

Free public domain name services have other disadvantages. Most make money by mining the text in emails and any other content that non-paying users store on their servers, and use the mined Information to help their paying customers target the non-paying users and their contacts with advertising. Apart from the annoyance factor of this advertising and the negative Impact it has on a company’s image, it’s obvious that the users’ confidential data and contacts are treated as anything but confidential. Worse still, though some free services may encrypt emails and other data while they are in transit on the Internet, most don’t encrypt them while they’re stored on their servers, so the emails can easily be read by anyone with legal or Illegal access to the servers.

Not everyone needs fully encrypted email applications and services They are vital, however, if highly sensitive data like credit card information or business intelligence has to be sent by email. For this, there are many options. Some encryption software and services require both the sender and the recipient to use the same proprietary email application. Some we web based and don’t require either party to Install special software. Lockbin Is an example of one such service. It offers three usage levels, and the basic level is free. NI levels allow anybody to send a fully encrypted email, which can include an attachment, to anyone else. The sender assigns a password to the email before sending it and the recipient uses the same password to read It. That requires the sender to give the recipient the password. For security, Lockbin recommends letting the recipient know the password by some means other than by email, such as by phone or text message. Some people may find that part of the process a little inconvenient.

Nevertheless, the system works well and provides a high level of security for emails in transit. The company points out, however, that since their servers are based in the US, they are obliged by law to give the appropriate authorities access to any data pursuant of a court order. The same caveat applies to other US based email service providers, as well as foreign service providers, whose servers are located remotely. Most businesses are not overly concerned that some government agency might snoop on their data, as long as they feel confident that it’s protected from all other security threats.

The bottom line is that companies concerned about their image and their data privacy should not only have their own domain name for their website and their email, but they should be willing and glad to payfor these services. There are three principal reasons for this. First, charges for paid services are generally very reasonable and are adaptable to each customers needs — you pay only for services you use. Second, most paid services have excellent seam filtering features, which the user can customize. However, the most Important reason for using paid service providers Is this: A company that charges customers has a legal obligation to provide a high standard of service.

That means among other things, that they must ensure their systems are running as close to 100% of the time as is reasonably possible. In addition, they must keep customer information safe and maintain its confidentiality. Finally, they must provide professional and accessible customer support, and deal with customer complaints in a timely and efflclent manner.

On the other hand, companies that provide web and email services free of charge have very few legal obligations to their users since no service was sold and so no legally-enforceable contract exists between the parties. Is It really worth entrusting your company’s Image and its data to such service providers Just to save a few dollars? Surely, your company’s reputation and data are worth much more than that.