.CO Internet S.A.S., the official registry operator for the .co domain, announced recently that it has reached the landmark 1 millionth .co domain name registration in less than one year from the global launch. At the same time, I announced to the world (very silently) that I am moving my domain name from .name to .co.
Obviously there should be a takeaway for small business here, and there is. I will share my experience on choosing domain names and why you might want to think about changing your domain name, too.
From Idea to Domain Name in 60 Seconds (It May Actually Take a Bit Longer)
The best time to think about a domain name is when you have the idea. Even if you are not sure if this is the perfect name, you should try to secure the domain name as soon as possible. Many registrars have mobile websites and/or mobile apps that enable you to find and register a domain name on the go.
Think about these characteristics when deciding on a domain name:
- Easy to remember
- As short as possible
- Consider similarities in pronunciation
- Type the name fast on a keyboard (and on mobile devices) to see if there is a high possibility of typos
What if the Domain Name Is Registered by Somebody Else?
According to a Verisign report, there are over 209 million domain names. That is a lot of domain names, and it also makes your chances of getting the domain name of your choice a wee bit remote. If the domain name of your choice is already registered to someone else, use Whois to find out who owns the domain. Then you can try contacting the owner directly to make an offer to buy the name, or use a certified offer service to escrow the transaction. Many domain registrars and sites such sedo.com and namejet.com offer a service that evaluates the value of the domain name.
What if the Domain Name Is Expiring?
The registrant of a domain name is given a good amount of time to renew their domain name. It may take up to 40 days before a expired domain name is available for re-registration. You can look for back-order services that may be useful with expiring domains. Take a look at this article, “An Expensive Lesson In Domain Names.”
What if You Don’t Love Your Domain Name Anymore?
You were young and adventurous and you chose a domain name. Now, years later, you want out. (Yes, it can happen to the best of us.) Even if you love your current domain name, suppose the domain name of your dreams suddenly became available. What do you do?
Do what I did with my domain name (I still love .name, but .co was better). I was lucky that I could get my name with a .co extension, which is globally recognized and is easy to remember. Here’s what I did:
- Changed the DNS to my blog at blogspot.com
- Pointed .name to my Network Solutions hosting package
- Uploaded a file called a 301 redirect page that tells search engines that my site has permanently moved to the .co address
- Since I wanted all my old links to still work, I used something called a .htaccess file to redirect all the old URLs to the new ones. There are lot of resources on the Web that tell you how to do this, but it’s probably a good idea to consult with a Web developer.
- I did not have any email; otherwise, that would be a few additional steps.
- I logged into my account at Google Webmasters and notified the “Change of address.” If you own a website you should set up a Google Webmaster account.
- Check out Google tips on moving domains.
Dot.com or Bust Is No Longer True
Remember the .com era where we first moved content and commerce online? The Web has evolved, and so have domain names. Now you have a choice of domain name extensions, and there will be many more to come. When you search for a domain name, most registrars give you a choice of many extensions. .Co is one such extension that you can choose.
How Many Domain Names Should a Small Business Buy?
At a minimum, look at registering a few of the popular domain name extensions. Consider misspellings of the domain names if your gut tells you that people may make typos when inputting the domain name.
Social Networks and Domain Names
Here are some ways to use your domain name with your social networks:
- If you have a Blogspot blog, you can choose to have a custom domain name; the same with WordPress.com domain names.
- Use a domain name to forward to your Facebook or Linkedin profile.
- I use third-level extensions to forward to my Linkedin, Facebook and Flickr.
- If you have a really long domain name and are not registering another short one, explore using a URL shortener service like bit.ly to customize the URL and redirect it to your domain name.
What has your experience been? Have you got the domain of your dreams or are you still waiting? If you have any advice to offer in addtion to my thoughts, please weigh in in the comments.