When starting a business with an online presence, how do you choose a domain name? When you start a business, you need customers, you need to be found. Where will they find you? And how will they find you? Your startup’s domain name is your online “location, location, location…” There’s no manual for real estate location planning broken down by business type. There’s no checklist or flow chart guiding which type of business should be in what type of location. McDonald’s is famous for its alleged $250,000 per store research on location alone.
How much has your startup invested to ensure its virtual real estate location will ensure success?
We recommend that startups begin the domain acquisition process by examining marketing strategy.
Budgets, financing rounds, and exit strategies will also guide the process. Primary marketing strategy, however, will be the driving factor in choosing a domain name. Will search engines provide the bulk of your customers? Or, will your marketing primarily be through viral marketing, social media, and word of mouth? Let’s say most customers will discover your business through a search engine. Then, your startup will have a hefty search engine budget. Look at the monthly budget breakdown. Examine the cost per click and AdSense competition. Of course, your ranking in the search engine may affect how aggressively you market… Exact match domain names are domains that have the same keywords that the consumer is searching.
Our previous post explains how exact match domains rank higher than the same site would on a domain that doesn’t contain those keywords. Ranking higher is vital, and the keywords in your domain itself can provide the extra edge your startup needs. Another post coming soon will revisit the 2011 Microsoft study about which search results consumers click. It showed how consumers prefer to click domain search results that contain the keywords they searched. Again, a domain containing your target keywords will be advantageous in capturing searching consumers.
So, if your startup depends on search engine ranking, go for an exact match domain. Consider that your monthly SEO budget may actually be able to be smaller if some funds are spent upfront on an exact match domain acquisition. Now, what if “search” is not your startup’s primary marketing strategy? Perhaps your business will grow via viral marketing, social media, and word of mouth? If that’s the case, we recommend a short, highly memorable domain to be your brand. Your domain will need to pass the “radio test” so that people can hear, understand, and remember it. Shorter is always better, in that case.
If your budget allows, a premium one word domain is ideal: Think of flourishing new brands built on common words like Mint.com and Nimble.com. Or, think of newer mega brands built on one word domains that connote an experience: Amazon.com, Yahoo.com, Target.com… Your domain acquisition choice is integral to the success of your startup. Talk through your marketing strategy and budget with an experienced domain broker to identify the best fit for you!