Before you design your website, before you get install your shopping cart, before you even decide on a background colour, you should do one thing – choose a domain name.

This will be your online identity – when people first find your website, they will be introduced to you by this name. “Stephen, I’d like you to meet ___________.com.” You want to make sure that the name is memorable and fits well with your business. But where to start? What extension do you use? There are plenty of questions – and hopefully, you can find some of the answers here.

When you are in the planning stages and decide what your niche is going to be, you should also decide on a domain name. You want the name to be rich in keywords, and specifically tailored to your business. For example, let’s say you are in the vitamin and health supply business – you could choose a domain name like “TheVitaminHealthStore.com”. (And at the time I’m writing this, that domain is available – I won’t even charge a finder’s fee.)

The exception to the keyword rule is if the domain name will be the name of your brand. With vitamins, the first thing you think of definitely isn’t “Natures Way”, whose web address is www.NaturesWay.com – however, they are a large enough brand that the name is memorable, and so is the web address.

You’ll also want to register the domain name as early as possible in the life of your business. Go ahead & put a page that contains an article – again, with the vitamin example you could add some info on the benefits of using the vitamins that you plan to sell, and how they will be enhanced by some of the other products that you plan to carry.

This will help the site “age” well. The sooner the domain name is registered and has some type of content, the sooner it will be indexed by search engines and can start generating natural traffic based on keywords on your webpage.

When it comes to length, you’ll want to keep it down to two or three words, and if at all possible, try to avoid hyphens. TheVitaminHealthStore.com (I realize, that’s four words – that’s why I’m letting you have the name!) is much more memorable, easier to type, and definitely easier to pass along to friends and potential customers than something like The-Best-Vitamin-Health-Store-Around.com.

As for the extension, you’ll want to stick to .com, .net and .org. These are the top extensions available, and if you own them all you stand a much better chance of protecting your online name. Don’t want to run three separate websites? Easy – redirect two of them to your main site. You’ll still own them and will get traffic via those links.

These are the basics on choosing a domain name for your new business. If you’d like more information on this – and everything else you need to get your business kicked into high gear – check out the services available here.

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