Taking the First Steps Online: It All Starts With a Name

Guest Post from Richard Stevenson, 1&1 Internet

For many small businesses and start-ups, the first steps to creating an online presence can be a daunting prospect. With so much information out there, knowing exactly what is best for your business can be a challenge. Richard Stevenson of 1&1 Internet, Europe’s largest domain name registrar, outlines the first steps for business owners interested in getting online.

From choosing a hosting provider to creating a website, we know that creating a digital shop front can seem like it demands many steps with important decisions every step of the way, and that this can at first appear overwhelming.

In truth it’s a great deal easier than many assume, but in order to make the process easier, why not focus on just the first step? Once you have that first incredible idea for a company or product, what follows is picking a name that will help you stand out. The digital world is no different, so begin by imagining what your website name would be.

Next, consider which platform is right for your business. Are you looking to share information about a shop or your business? Are you looking to sell online? Would a website or online shop benefit your business?  There are many options available when it comes to representing your business online; it’s about choosing what’s right for you.

Still unsure?

We are excited to once again collaborate with Verisign to present a ‘Get Online Workshop’ at The Business Startup Show in London. The fastest-growing business exhibition in Europe, the event is returning for the 32nd time on Thursday 27th at Olympia London. The two-day show attracts more than 20,000 businesses, as start-ups and SMEs look to benefit from the knowledge of an array of Britain’s best business people and influencers.

We look forward to welcoming small business and start-up owners to our booth (stand 652) and to our sessions in the Get Online Workshop, where our experts will be on hand to discuss various aspects of establishing an online presence from creating a website to understanding your web audience and selling online.

In the meantime here are my top tips for choosing the right web address:

What’s in a name…?  

No doubt this name is reflective of your proposition and/or brand (most logically, it is probably the name of your company). Although it’s tempting to simply register the company name, a descriptive domain can boost SEO and enhance a business’ online presence.

You could try a slogan, product name or a description of what the business does to help make the website more easily found. Many successful businesses have created a new word by compounding two whole words (YouTube), blending parts of two words together (Microsoft), tweaking a word (Tumblr), or using a memorable phrase (ImLovinIt).

Always aim for a catchy name that is easy to remember and pass on verbally.  The more keywords referenced in your domain name, the more likely search engines may rate your website and position it higher in results, meaning more visitors.

… and what’s in a dot?

There is more to picking the perfect domain name than just the name. Although it may seem like a small technical decision – after all, it’s just a few dots and letters – the top-level domain will have a huge impact on your brand.  For instance, should you choose .com or .co.uk? What about the new top-level domain extensions such as .uk or .london?

For example, a .com address indicates to potential visitors that the company has an international mindset, opening up potential business opportunities around the world. .Com is the most recognized top-level domain on the planet, offering 100 percent operational accuracy and stability for more than 15 years.

Unlock the value of multiple domain names

Once you have settled on your ideal domain name, you may consider the job done in terms of your first step towards establishing an online presence. Yet, a lot of value – and clicks – can be unearthed in registering multiple domain names, especially by registering domains names with similar spellings of a company name. For example, if an SMB operates under the domain BritishPetToys.com, it could also register BritishPetToy.com or BritishPetToys.net, and direct traffic from those sites to its main URL. This helps to capture and direct traffic from the misspelled websites to the intended site.

In addition to multiple domain names, you may wish to consider establishing a domain name portfolio by registering the same name but with other top-level domains (for instance, having welovecats.com registered and also taking welovecats.net, welovecats.cc, etc.). Having multiple registered domains makes the website easier to find via search and all registered domain names can then point to a single website, meaning traffic can still be captured even if visitors can’t quite remember the company name, or accidentally mistype it.

Taking some time to think about the best domain name to register and considering a domain name portfolio will enable companies to attract the right customers and future-proof their brand, putting them in the best position for growth.

Richard Stevenson works at 1&1 Internet, Europe’s largest domain name registrar. To discover more about taking a business online, visit www.start-online-with.com.