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What's in a Domain Name: How Your Domain Name Can Ensure Your Online Success  (Part 1)
Your domain name is not only your address on the Internet, but also your best asset. Understand how your domain name can bolster the success of your branding and marketing strategies. In the second part, know the elements that make a good domain name.

by Nach M Maravilla
PowerHomebiz.com Publisher

In the physical world, you can distinguish a business because of its structure, window displays, or signs. You can tell that a bank is a bank, or a clothing store is indeed a clothing store. Catalogs and brochures also establish the product line: a Finger Hut catalog can tell you that they are fashion retailers.
(article continued below ...)

In the Internet, however, it is an entirely different story altogether. Your domain name is the only clue to your online business. You do not have visual clues: no location, no look, and no store design. Instead, they have to type in a word or a set of words to reach your site. Your prospective visitors has no way of knowing what your site is all about until they find it and read its contents. Who can ever tell that Amazon.com sells books? Or that Excite is a search engine? There are no clues to point that Eziba.com sells handcrafted goods from around the world. Unlike in the real world, a person can stand in a corner, and know instantly that the business in front is a watch store, or a record store is located at the right corner, and that a restaurant is located down the street. With no physical clues to offer, you only have your domain name to make your business distinguishable from all the rest.

Your domain name can spell your success on the Internet. A good domain name is the best asset you can ever have. It can make your business stand out in the crowd, or just float aimlessly in space. Your only weapon to ensure that people can find you, and best of all, remember you, is through your domain name. In the real world, people can forget the name, but can say "It's that bagel shop located between 1st and 2nd Streets." In the Internet, no one says, "I don't know the name of that site, but I know its IP address."

While weak business names are excusable in the real world (e.g. Vinnie's Shoe Repair Store), your branding and marketing success will depend on how good and how memorable your domain name is. The goal of every online marketer is to etch their names in the minds of their customers, so when people think of their product they would go to them. Yahoo! wants users to think of their site when searching for something on the Internet. AOL wants to be the first thing to come to mind when people think of an ISP.

Common Name vs. Proper Name

The need to provide immediate clues to an online business led to the prevalence of generic domain names. Generic names instantly provides the user with an idea of what a business is all about, what to expect and look for in a site. Etoys.com is a toy store. Women.com leaves you without a doubt that their site caters to women. MyFamily.com is about families, while SmallBusiness.com is for small businesses.

The lure of the generic has been so powerful; that some companies even paid absurdly high prices to get the name they want. Remember Business.com? A Los Angeles company paid $7.5 million to get the rights to that name. The domains Loans.com and Wines.com were both bought for $3 million. Telephone.com was acquired for $1.75 million, while Bingo.com sold for $1.1 million.

Thus, we see sites (and lots of them!) use generic domain names, and all its possible iterations. Take a site on business planning. We have

Businessplan.com 
Businessplans.com 
Bplans.com 
B-plan.com 
Bizplan.com 
Biz-plan.com 
E-Bizplan.com
Keybusinessplans.com

And these are just dot.coms. The list does not include all the dot.nets, dot.orgs, and other domain wannabes. Majority simply want THE generic name for their business: tickets.com, movies.com, money.com, marketing.com, teens.com

But is it working? The problem with generic names, is well it's generic! It's a common name. While such names could lead users to your site, it hardly creates the zing or magic that makes successful brands. Branding has always been about proper names: McDonald's did not name their store Hamburger. Hertz is not called Car Rental. FedEx is not Mail Carrier. Kodak is not Photographs. Microsoft is not Computer Software.

Even the early winners on the Internet have showed the power of using proper names as domain names. Yahoo is not a generic name. Same with AOL, Amazon, BlueMountain, Ashford.com, or even Priceline. Yet these sites have grown to become the biggest online businesses in their categories.

To Part 2 -- So What Makes a Good Domain Name?

About the Author:

Nach M Maravilla is the publisher of Power Homebiz Guides.

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