With just about every business worldwide boasting a website these days, it's gotten a lot more difficult than it used to be to find the website domain name you want. Does it matter if your domain name is different than your business name?
Of course, the ideal situation is to have your domain name match your business name. If you're just starting your business and haven't yet decided on a business name, you may even want to adjust your business name to match available domains. For example, suppose you were planning to name your business Rinaldi Pizza, but the domain name RinaldiPizza.com is taken. If RinaldiPizzeria.com is available, you could change your business name to Rinaldi Pizzeria.
The situation is a little trickier if you’re the owner of an established business but are just now getting around to creating a website. When you start your search for domain names, there are a couple of situations you may run across:
YourBusinessName.com is taken, but the owner of the domain is not currently using it. You may be able to buy it from them. Do a WHOIS lookup to find contact information for the owner of the domain and/or for their domain registrar. Contact the person and see if they are interested in selling the domain.
YourBusinessName.com is taken, and the owner of the domain has built it into a website. If you’ve trademarked your business name, have been in business for a while and there’s a good chance people could confuse your business with the other one, you may have a legal case for getting control of the domain name. Keep in mind, however, that this can be expensive and time-consuming, so you'll have to decide if it's worth it.
In either of the above cases, you can also get around the problem by using your business name with a different extension. (The extension is what comes after the dot.) While .com is the most popular extension for businesses, you can also use .net, .company or one of many others. However, keep in mind that since most people naturally type in .com when they do an online search, there's a good chance that people will type in YourBusinessName.com and end up at a different website.
In most cases, the best option when you can't get a domain name that matches your business name is to choose a variation on your name. Because shorter domain names are generally better (especially with more and more people doing their internet browsing on mobile devices), shortening your name or using an abbreviation can be a good option. Try to avoid using hyphens (people may not remember where to put them), ampersands or numerals (people may spell them out instead). Finally, try to make your domain name memorable.
Your domain name is important, but in the end, it's not the only thing that drives visitors to your website. In fact, careful search engine optimization (SEO) is a bigger effect on driving web traffic than the domain name you choose. After all, how many people sit down and laboriously type in a domain name when looking for a business? More often, they simply put in keywords like “emergency plumber” and contact the business that comes up highest in search results. Working with SEO experts can ensure that your website is properly optimized for desktop, local and mobile search.
Changing your domain name in the future can be costly and time-consuming, so make the decision carefully. Once you've chosen your domain name, protect it by using a domain registrar that offers Domain Locking services. This protects your domain name from unauthorized transfers or hijacking, ensuring that the name you've worked so hard to come up with stays yours.