Spotlight on Websites
Put Dubs on Your Domain
There's a new business model out there and many of us wouldn't have guessed it could be a thing. A group of digital entrepreneurs are buying up the rights to URLs they deem as marketable and then they sell them at outrageous prices. What's more, they are thriving.
If that sounds Greek to you, a domain is the name of your website, that "whatever.com" people put in a search bar to find you. It is also called a URL, which stands for uniform resource locator. What makes them a hot commodity is that, much like a telephone number, they must be absolutely unique.
The Challenges of Finding Your Identity
Let's say Joe's Bar & Grill in Podunk decides he could get more business if he had a website. So Joe goes online to set it up. The first hurdle he needs to overcome is his ampersand. Does he use it or does he spell out "and"? Generally, the experts recommend words over symbols, (numerals and punctuation are also symbols), but that's just the beginning, because chances are joesbar&grill.com and joesbarandgrill.com are both taken.
The .com designation is what is known as a TLD, top level domain - a domain which registers URLs. New TLD's are being added all the time, but for business, at least for now .com is the gold standard. You can register for domains under TLDs like .menu and .restaurant. So, Joe could sign up for joesbar&grill.restaurant right now, but the public, in general, is still resistant to this new trend. They expect legitimate business to have a .com web address. Over time I believe this will change, because there are only so many marketable .com url's to be had. Website owners will be forced to consider alternatives, but that could be a decade from now and in the meantime, why buck the system when there is no advantage to it.
Perhaps the next best TLD to .com is .net. Joe might be able to sign up for joesbarandgrill.net, but he won't win the search war. Potential patrons trust .com more than they do anything else and if there is already a joesbarandgrill.com, our Joe's potential patrons are likely to click it. By the time the potential patron figures out they've gotten the website of the wrong Joe, they may have already decided to go for sushi instead, because they know where that is. Modern day consumers are just that fickle.
So Joe considers other options. Chances are he can still get joesbarandgrillpodunk.com, but guess what. The optimum number of characters in a URL is 6-10, 13 at most. He's looking at 21. Just to complicate things a little, let's say Podunk is part of a metropolitan area, like Garland is to Dallas. What's going to be better for Joe? Should he tie his fame to Podunk or latch on to Dallas? There are pros and cons with each.
The Name Game
All these headaches are related to well-established businesses which haven't yet registered a URL. The longer you have been in business and the more clients there are who already know you, the more challenging it can be to find an appropriate domain name. It's one of the first hurdles we have to get across with many of our website clients. How do we integrate a new domain name, that seems unrelated to an already well-known business name, into a brand, without disrupting the years of brand building which have gone into establishing the business name? There is no easy answer.
We cringe when we ask for a business' name and hold our breath until we find out the .com URL with that name is available. When it's not, we have to go to the drawing board and start getting creative.
In some cases we deal with an entrepreneur who's been nursing an idea for a long time. They've dreamed up a name for their business they are in love with and they are ready for a website. We ask, "Have you checked to see if the URL available?" They give us a curious look and then when we explain, the answer is usually no. In a few moments we are able to verify that the name is actually so clever that it is actually already in use by someone (if not several someones) or it will take a pretty hefty investment to get the URL.
So we offer these words of advice. First, if you have a business and you don't have a website, even if you don't even want a website right now, buy your URL. It's an investment of a few dollars on an annual basis. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches later for a small investment and, perhaps even more important, you'll keep a competitor from buying your URL. It does happen.
If you are forming a business, before you ever decide on a name, research the available URLs and invest in the one you prefer. Then name your business based on the URL you have acquired. Life will be much easier that way, rather than loving your business name and having to give it up to get a matching URL.
Whatever your website woes maybe, we can help you find a workable and affordable solution. Calls us at 214-499-6519 and let's start building your site today!