I actually have friends in the WordPress website business who sit around and talk about the importance (or lack of importance) of domain names and extensions.  The three of us—based in Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, and Sarasota respectively—each work with new business owners who are picking out their website domain names for the first time.  We shared some of our frequently asked questions and observations and I thought you might be interested as well.

First, none of us mind being asked fairly basic questions about the vocabulary and registration details encountered. In fact, I think it is very important that business owners/website owners understand what they are purchasing and what control they can expect to have.

What’s in a Domain Name?

When we talk about your website URL and your website domain name we are referring to the same thing in layman’s terms.

URL is the abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator and is defined as the global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web. The URL could be any combination of numbers or letters in the *.*.*  configuration

My company URL is www.VisionPRM.com.  Because I am using my website to communicate with real people, I have a domain name VisionPRM.com that is relatively understandable and easier to remember.

Who Owns Your Domain Name?

To get this URL/domain name/address I went to the website of a company that registers domain names. This would be a domain registrar like GoDaddy, an accredited organization that sells domain names to the public.

A registrant is the person or company who registers a domain name.  This would be you when you register a new domain name.  And here I offer a HUGE WARNING.  I live by the rule that every business with a website should OWN their domain name and be the primary contact on the domain registration filed with the registrar.  I can’t count the number of times I have been called in to work with a client only to discover the domain name is registered in the name of the previous host company OR a previous employee.

Domain names are registered for a fee paid annually.  The fees may range up to $50 a year for uultra-premium names and extensions.  Registrars often offer multi-year discounts and auto-renewal terms.

Do you know where your domain name is registered?

Is it still important to have a .com extension for a business website?

Don’t laugh, but for most Baby Boomers and even Gen Xers, the .com extension is still very important. It communicates legitimacy and serious business. Business owners of these generations will be very sensitive to having to fall back on a “shady sounding” .net or .us if the .com extension is not available.

Likewise, if the business being represented by the non .com extension focuses on an older clientele it would be wise to seek some compromise in the first portion of the URL so that you can have a .com extension.

Millennials, on the other hand, won’t blink at a snappy .io, .ci, or.xyz!

I missed out on buying my name.com which would be the holy grail of GayleWilliams.com. When I searched for my alternatives I had a long list to choose from:


Which one would you choose?

Does Your Domain Name Help with Being Found Online?

It used to be that scoring a domain name like SarasotaDivorceLawyer.com or OrlandoPlumbers.com with your profession and location right there behind .com would be like a magic wand to drive business your way. Every once in a while I hear of someone registering a website with a similar combo, but usually it’s a more targeted geographic area or less common profession. OK, that’s easy to remember, but it’s not nearly as important as it used to be.

I often advise clients to choose a domain name that is meaningful to your audience and well suited to your business.  Using your business name is perfect, but not necessary.  If your name is XYZ Services, LLC, but you are a handyman its best to convey the service or solution.

XYZHandyManServices.com (or net, biz, whatever)

Still, the most powerful factors impacting your websites status in search engine results (showing up on the first page of Google) are found in your content and the structure of your website, not the domain name.  The publication of regular new content such as blog posts on a weekly or monthly basis.  More on that in another post.