Welcome to Internet Marketing Lesson #1!
In this series I’ll be going over the essential elements needed to market your services or products business online – in order from zero to your first sale! I’ll document the steps I go through and tell you which tools I use to get started, to get ramped up, and to get selling.
In today’s lesson, we focus on getting you the best domain name possible (and we talk a bit about WordPress and hosting).
1) Domain Name: What to Consider
Okay, the first thing you need to do to market online is to choose the right domain name for your business.
Why is getting the right domain name important?
- Your domain name is a key part of your branding
- Having keywords in your domain positively impacts your SEO (your online “findability”)
- It’s hard to change your domain name later because you have to move your site, redirect links, change logos and let people know about the change
Here are some key decisions to make:
- Do you have a National, International or Local Focus? How does that impact your domain name (e.g. a more local BayAreaVideo.com vs. VideoProductionGuys.com – just examples)
- Do you have multiple businesses? Or just one? Will this website encompass all of these businesses? Or will it focus on one main one?
- Will you outgrow a narrow focus quickly?
2) Four Tools for Finding a Great Domain Name
A) LongTailPro – A great SEO Tool with a twist..
My favorite SEO tool is now LongTailPro (it used to be Market Samurai). LongTailPro includes some features that make it very valuable for finding good, keyword-rich domain names. So, rather than brainstorming your own keywords and domain names, you can put in one or more seed keywords and LTP will generate ideas for you and will even check for domain name availability. You can find some great (and valuable) domains via this tool.
a) Put in a seed keyword or set of keywords (and check the box for domain availability)
b) Let it run and on the right it will show domain availability
B) Domize – begins showing you available domain names as you type
C) Wordoid – lets you specify which words are included in a domain name and where (and it makes up various combinations for you).
D) GoDaddy Bulk Domain Search – why search one name at a time?
3) Key Characteristics of a Good Domain Name
Follow these guidelines to pick a better domain name:
- Short: Make it as short as possible – obviously a lot of the best two-word domain names are taken but do your best to find a two-word or three-word name. Consider using shorter words if you use a three-word name.
- Keywords: Consider including one or more important industry keywords (or even a two word phrase) in the domain name. This can help your SEO.
- Unambiguous: Make sure the name is easy to pronounce and remember
- Radio Test: Does it pass the “Radio Test” – if someone heard it on the radio can they spell it? Remember it?
- Avoid Homonyms: Avoid names that include words that can be spelled multiple ways like “C”, “See” and “Sea”
- Compelling: Does is have some meaning that is relevant to your company’s business?
- Google Test: Do a search for your name in Google. What do you find? Is it competitive? Does the domain you come up with have any negative connotations online?
- Descriptive: Does it have elements that help people understand what you do?
- “Dot com”: For most business Websites, using “.com” is the best Top Level Domain (TLD). A secondary choice is “.net”. Consider “.org” for organizations. The rules are different for non-US sites where the TLD may be .de (Germany) or .au (Australia)
- Avoid Dashes: If possible, avoid dashes. Google treats a dash “-” as a space so won’t penalize you for search engine optimization, but many people consider dashed domain names (e.g. www.my-company-name.com) as inferior to the non-dashed versions.
- Sleep On It: Don’t fall in love with the first name you find. Sleep on it or consider a few alternatives before you make a final decision. That doesn’t mean you can’t “buy and hold” (see the next point)
- Buy Good Ones: If you find a potentially valuable name, consider buying it right away, even if you may use another name for your business. Don’t forget that you can try to sell it as a premium domain in GoDaddy (see below).
4) Buying Your Domain – Where I buy my domains and why
I have consolidated all of my domain names with GoDaddy. I use GoDaddy for the following reasons:
- It’s cheap and if you search, you can usually find great coupons (I like the ones at Fatwallet.com). I use “cjc749fat” all the time for $7.49 .com domain names
- If I buy surplus domain names I can list them as a Premium domain for free in case someone stumbles upon it! I sold one surplus domain last year for $788 (note: GoDaddy takes 30% but this is “found money” for you for names that you’re not going to use).
- You can also sell domain names through their auction. I sold one surplus domain name for $150 this way.
- It makes it all easier to list domains as premium domains or in auction if you already own the names through GoDaddy. GoDaddy has such a high volume of traffic (they’re like the Amazon.com of domain names) that you’re improving your chances of someone finding your domain as they search for just the right name for their business.
- GoDaddy has great phone support
Here’s what they’ll see if they search for it (or for similar names):
5) WordPress: The Website/Blog Platform I use
Once you have your domain name, what technology do you use for the website?
- We’ll cover this in detail in the next lesson, but the platform I use is “self-hosted WordPress”. This is the platform that all of my sites are on and that most of the online marketers use to run their businesses.
- You can read more about my decision process for choosing WordPress here.
- If you’re ready to go, this site runs on Studiopress – which is a very robust WordPress platform (specifically the News Theme). Again, more about these topics in the next post.
6) Where I host my WordPress sites and why
I’ll cover this in detail next time, but the short answer is that my Websites are all hosted at Bluehost. Why?
I use Bluehost for my WordPress hosting because it’s:
- Easy to use – I find their channel relatively easy to use (compared to many of the other hosts I’ve worked with)
- Inexpensive – their pricing is very reasonable (about $5.95/month or so)
- Flexible – they have a lot of options for your account and for adding features
- Can host unlimited sites in one account – under one account (and one fee), you can host multiple websites saving you a ton of money and administrative headaches
- Easiest wordpress install that I’ve found – you can be up and running in under an hour (more about this next time)
- 24/7 U.S.-based phone support – if you have problems, pick up the phone 24/7 to get a real person helping you out
- During checkout, you can purchase SiteLock fairly inexpensively to monitor your site for hacking or security issues
Resources mentioned in this post:
- Domain name research: LongTailPro, Domize, Wordoid or GoDaddy Bulk Domain Search
- Buy domain names: GoDaddy
- Hosting WordPress: Bluehost
- WordPress premium theme: Studiopress (this site uses the News Theme)
Ready to get started?
So are you ready to get started with your new website? Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and please share this with your friends who are just getting started and need a little assistance!
Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.