Shakespeare famously wrote “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.
This is 100% wrong when it comes to Domain Names.
Domain names are first and foremost a representative of the brand for your business or organization. As a small business owner myself, I rarely thought of myself as a having a brand. Brands are historically Pepsi, IBM, or Apple. Big companies with big budgets. In fact, each of these have had 100s of millions of dollars invested in advertising over the years.
And while you are not investing millions or even tens of thousands in your advertising, your business still has a brand. And the most visible part of your brand, your website, starts with your domain name (it’s out there for anyone to see 24 hours a day and 365 days a year).
In addition, Domain names are the one piece of online real estate that a small business owner can own as a retained asset. While there are “terms and conditions” with the registrar of domain name, this is one online asset that can be controlled completely. As long as you are not breaking the law and you pay for your annual renewal fee, you will own this valuable piece of real estate.
Management of Domain Names
The least interesting part of domains is the administration. With a little bit of effort, you can organize, control and ensure legal compliance so that this web asset is protected and controlled by your small business.
Many small businesses don’t technically “own” their domain name. THIS IS REALLY BAD. Often it can be owned by a web development agency, a vendor, an intern, or an employee (or worse, a former employee). And most often, this is an oversight or a mistake rather than a deceptive practice.
And the biggest benefit of ensuring proper administration of a Domain Name is when there is a crisis or an opportunity. A crisis such as a server crash or a hacking or the owner becomes incapacitated and someone needs to take over. Or a planned transfer such as an owner’s interest to sell the business or to pass the business on to future generations.
And similar to the management of all online assets (website assets, digital assets, internet assets), setting up proper controls and management practices to ensure proper administration of Domain Name assets is just good business.
Some Common Questions
I’ve often been asked if a small business should abandon a Domain Name that they have used for years in favor of one that has a relevant keyword. 99% of the time, this is not a good solution. The age of a domain name has a much larger impact on domain authority and relevance than simply having a keyword that is of interest to your potential customers.
Some folks are still pushing the “smaller is always better” than longer domain names so that when people type the domain into a browser, it is easier to remember. With the advent of search engines, SIRI, maps etc most users start with some kind of search even if they think they know the domain name. Having a “memorable” domain name is a nice to have, not a need to have.
What can enhance the value of a domain?
- Having a relevant keyword in the domain name (ABCplumbing.com for example)
- Length of time as a registered domain name
- Domain “authority” as measured by search engines
- Content published at that domain
- Page load speed (faster is better)
- Mobile optimization (the more mobile friendly, the better)
- Web visitors that find your page and stay a long time (engaged with the content)
What can hurt a domain name?
- Being hacked
- Having malware or spyware that infects other web visitors
- A domain associated with email SPAM
- Deceptive tactics (link redirects, keyword stuffing, content deception)
- Random content not associated with the domain’s history
- Being including in a link farm
- Being included in a SPAMmy online directory