Domain name: What small businesses must do to ensure their online identity builds credibility

Published: May 14, 2020 12:11:55 PM

Technology for MSMEs: A domain name is like an address on the internet and most often it is the first thing potential clients see.  It represents an online identity of your brand and business.

A domain needs to either reflect your brand ethos and business or characterise the product/ service you offer.
  • By Manish Dalal

Technology for MSMEs: The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for everyone. Businesses have had to very quickly adapt and pivot to accommodate the new social distancing norms. Small businesses and various brick and mortar stores are busy creating a shift in business operations and strategy, that includes moving from being completely offline to integrating with the online ecosystems. If you are a small business that is looking to adapt to the current situation or further your business prospects through a website, you will have to start by selecting a web address or a domain name first. 

A domain name is like an address on the internet and most often it is the first thing potential clients see.  It represents an online identity of your brand and business. Before you zero in on a domain name, here are five crucial factors to consider.

Representing Business Appropriately

A domain needs to either reflect your brand ethos and business or characterise the product/ service you offer. If you have an established and recognised business, it makes sense to go with your existing business name, so that it is easier for your patrons to find you. On the other hand, if your business is in its starting phase, you could choose a domain name that directly talks about the product or service. This can help people looking for a particular product or service find you through relevant online searches.

Simplicity

A domain name needs to be clear, catchy,  easy to spell and remember. Ideally, your domain should not exceed 15 characters, with as few syllables as possible. A descriptive domain name can be more memorable. The idea should be to keep it simple so that people can understand it even if you just say it out loud. You can also try transliteration in local languages. There are many examples of successful startups whose name in Hindi is spelled in English characters for their brand and domain name.

Also read: Nirmala Sitharaman gives MSMEs enormous headroom to grow bigger with revised definition

SEO Friendly

Having a descriptive and keyword-rich website with high-quality and relevant backlinks is important so that your business is visible and ranks well on search engines. A keyword-rich domain can help significantly boost your online visibility. However, it is more important to choose a good and meaningful domain name instead of a spammy, keyword-heavy name.  In fact, search engines can go after low-quality exact match domain names that do not rank well.

Copyright/ trademark or Hosting Issues

Conduct extensive due diligence to ensure that the domain name you intend to choose is not trademarked, copyrighted, or being used by another business. This can be a bit time consuming, but it safeguards you from the mental and financial stress of getting sued for infringement. If your business identity is similar to that of another company, look for a way to work around smart domain name options. 

While registering your domain name, consider registering the same domain name on other extensions. For example, if you register your domain name on a .com extension, consider registering the same domain name on the .in extension as well, especially if you are a business selling in India. Also, consider registering similar domain names to your original domain name so that you can protect your brand against malicious actors who may want to infringe on your brand by buying domain names similar to your brand name.

Conclusion

Selecting the domain name is a crucial first step towards building your digital presence. There are several resources online to help look for a unique domain name. It is recommended to shortlist at least three to five different domain options and analyse its ‘fit’ with your entity. Feel free to run the options by your colleagues, family and friends to get honest feedback and suggestions. Give yourself enough time to pick the domain name that resonates with you. Once you have made up your mind, register the domain name as soon as possible. You don’t want effort and research to go wasted if someone else scoops upon the domain name before you do.

The right domain name can do wonders for your business. It can help develop your business’ identity, create a good first impression, build credibility, enhance awareness and grow your business. It can open the door to business prospects previously unexplored so that you and your dreams have a fighting chance despite the tumultuous times.

Manish Dalal is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Endurance Group – APAC. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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