Being online is an important part of any personal or agency marketing plan. Your website can play a vital role in helping you promote and grow your business – online and off.
To get started, you’ll need a domain name. That’s your future web address that prospects and clients will use to find you online. For example, Word & Brown’s web address is www.wordandbrown.com. The web address for the CaliforniaChoice multi-carrier, employee-choice private exchange is www.calchoice.com.
You will want to select a domain name that is easy to remember. It can be a simple web address, named after your business (like the two sites mentioned above). Or it can be more descriptive – a name that tells users what they will find or where they will go when clicking on it. For example, something like innovativebenefits.com, employeebenefits.com (already in use), or bobjonesbenefitsagency.com. If your preferred .com address is not available, you might consider other top-level domain (TLD) options such as:
A .com address is often considered preferred because it’s what Americans generally expect when searching for an online address. Upwork.com says while many TLDs exist, some carry more credibility than others. Less-common domains may be more affordable, but it’s important to consider how your potential visitors (current clients and prospects) will view your selected domain.
WPBeginner says there were, on average, 56,500+ .com registrations every day in 2020. MontereyPremier says there are currently more than 151.8 million .com domain names already registered with 366+ million names across all top-level domains. Whatever name you choose, you’re bound to have lots of other sites competing for your web visitors’ attention.
Where to Begin
A good place to start in your consideration of your future name is to look at your competitors. What names did they choose? Which TLD are they using (if other than .com)?
Write down as many ideas as you can. When you think you’ve narrowed your list, check the availability using a domain name search tool.
There are many free domain search tools available online; some of the vendors listed below also offer registration and hosting services:
-Bluehost (Good for WordPress sites)
You may want to read Top 10 Best Website Domain Solutions for a comparison of search sites.
There are some “dos and don’ts” to keep in mind when selecting your domain name:
- Do choose something that is easy to say – and spell; shorter is better
- Do select a name that your customers will understand and remember
- Don’t use numbers or hyphens in your domain name, if possible (names with hyphens and numbers can be hard to say and remember)
- Do search words related to your business – like benefits, insurance, etc. – or your location, like BayAreaBenefits (already in use), OCBenefitsPro, and LA(yourselecteddomainname)
- Don’t choose something that is long or that users could mistype
- Do select something for the long term; avoid slang or pop culture (or be prepared to change your site name in the future as trends change)
- Do use Google Trends to see how different keywords have performed over an extended period
What About Costs?
The cost of your new website domain can vary significantly depending on what vendor you choose from across the web. It can start as low as $2.99 in your first year. However, Upwork.com says the average cost in 2022 was between $10 and $20 per year. Costs can increase for added services, such as registration, privacy protection, Domain Name System (DNS) management, a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, etc. Some sites charge the same rate at renewal, while others do not. It’s always good to shop around.
A Final Tip
If you purchase and register your web domain name on your own (which we recommend), be sure to monitor your email to ensure you renew on time.
If you’re open to an external domain registrar, check out The Best Domain Registrars of 2023 article from Forbes Advisor.