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Business

Mike Bronner
Mike Bronner
16,395 Points

Choosing the right Domain Name

I'm stuck at choosing the appropriate domain name for my services. I have been doing these services for many years now, but never worried about the domain name. The change now is that I'm restructuring my company, moving to a different state, and want to focus on a specific niche market.

However, my company provides 3 very different services, and I want to highlight them all on my site. Now the problem becomes choosing a domain name that works well for all three, which is virtually impossible.

So I was thinking of creating 3 different domain names, and point them to service-specific pages, instead of the main page of my site. I don't really want to host 3 different sites, because that would be pretty redundant as well as tedious.

What do you guys recommend?

10 Answers

Hey Mike,

Personally I would do sub domains for each of the services.

i.e.

Say you sell cakes, fruit and vegetables. I would do

  • cakes.mikebronner.com
  • fruit.mikebronner.com
  • vegetables.mikebronner.com

Doing this you would be able to point your customers straight to the service that you are offering. No doubt others will have better options but this is what I would do.

Stu :)

Mike Bronner
Mike Bronner
16,395 Points

Thanks for your ideas, Stu. All input helps at this point. :)

Let's say I sell Ladders, run a Farrier service (shoe horses), as well as make hand-crafted horse saddles.

I was hoping to incorporate the main keywords in my domain name, going for SEO. However, if I were to incorporate all three under one roof, that wouldn't be the way to go. I already have the perfect SEO domain name reserved, but it only works on one of the services I offer. The benefits are instant rememberability - not unique, but very easy to remember, it has my target market in the domain, and it describes perfectly what I will be doing -- well, one of the three services anyway.

If I went for uniqueness, I think I would have a much harder time getting exposure, as well as being easy to remember.

I guess another alternative would be to have my site focus mainly on the one thing, and mention the other services on the side -- but that would likely confuse customers, and it would take away from the focus.

The drawback of the keyword-driven domain name is that it is awfully specific in my case, and I want to grow the other aspects of my business more down the road, so it may not be the best approach. I also feel like I should brand my business more uniquely than a generic keyword term -- montanasfastestfarrier.com (going with the example here) would be very impersonal. Of course the downside to a more branded business name and domain name is that you have to build up brand recognition over time, which can be very challenging.

How bad would it be to have a domain name like montanasfastestfarrier.com, but then brand the site as "The Lone-Shoe Cowboy, Inc.", which has much more flavor to it. I feel there would be a gap in branding between the domain name and the business name.

Kate Hrycak
Kate Hrycak
5,542 Points

Hi Mike,

I think in your last comment you kinda nailed the problem on the head: Branding. It's not about the variety of services or products you offer, but what brand do you want to put forward. You may have 3 services now, but what about 3 or 4 or 7 years down the road? One of your services may fail, or you may pick up another. You don't want to pigeon hole yourself into a domain on a product or service, unless that is the only thing you are ever going to do.

Personally, I would go for something that's all encompassing. Do some research around other companies in your space (other competition or even just other services that are like yours) and see how they structure their website to drive the right traffic to to the right services. A great example of multi-tiered service sites are in the accounting industry: Xero, Wave Apps, Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Peachtree, etc.

They have all established their brand as being the #1 spot for accounting, invoicing, whatever, but Quickbooks didn't do their domain as "Easytaxfiling.com", rather, they chose Quickbooks.

I think if I were you (not knowing the nature of your industry), I'd sit down and take a hard look at brand. People don't remember your website because of the domain, they remember the service or product or customer service you provide, and all of the ways they can relate to your brand.

I know this isn't a "do this!" answer, but I hope it gives you some things to think about.

Justin Green
Justin Green
16,430 Points

Hi Mike,

You mentioned that you are refocusing your business on a niche market, but also want to remain open to growth. I would go with a future-proof approach. I can't say exactly what that would be for your specific businesses, but I would go with a single domain that provides a landing page for customers to interact with each of your services. This would make it easier to highlight new (or remove) services as your business evolves. You could help customers navigate through any confusion through design/text/unique branding for each service. This approach could also expose customers of one service to your other offerings.

I'm not very familiar with SEO, so I am not sure of the impacts of having a single domain. If you have a cool one reserved, maybe you could test it out and gauge customer response.

This is a very interesting scenario, and I am curious to know what you decide.

Justin

Eddie Flores
Eddie Flores
9,110 Points

You can always re-brand your business by coming up with a unique name that essentially means nothing. I have several names that I came up with that are just names. Nothing else. I bought the domain names for them because when I build out programs, or come up with ideas I can use it as the company's name and not have to worry about the market that it is in. If you can get a good ad campaign and referrals your business is more likely to take because it has a brandname that people can remember.

Just think of sites like Zooks, Amazon, and Google. Names that don't mean anything (with exception of "The Amazon") but they are memorable and popular.

What are your services?..I have had so many domain names in the past and I'm now in the process of rebranding as just myself. I've been doing a lot of studying on branding and marketing and There are many reasons to just use your own name. But having said that, a made up name is good too; just choose one and don't sweat it, you might want to change it in the future. That happens all the time..

Ege Ersoz
Ege Ersoz
4,468 Points

The domain name should be your brand name. From an SEO perspective, search engines have been de-emphasizing the importance of having the keywords in the domain. So don't worry so much about being specific.

If you want, you can choose a brand name that encompasses your niche. For example, if you pick "Clever Home Solutions" as your brand then you can sell pretty much any cool/smart home item.

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

> How bad would it be to have a domain name like montanasfastestfarrier.com, but then brand the site as "The Lone-Shoe Cowboy, Inc.", which has much more flavor to it. I feel there would be a gap in branding between the domain name and the business name.

Actually http://loneshoecowboy.com is available, so you could sell anything related to horses or farms under that brand.

Here are a few tips on selecting a domain name: http://www.domometer.com/read/good-domain-name-tips

Mike Bronner
Mike Bronner
16,395 Points

Wow, guys! Thanks for all the insight. :) Everyone has a slightly different take on the issue, but the overall consensus here seems to be that branding trumps keyword-domains. And that is backed up in a many of the SEO articles I've been reading on the subject, like the one you linked, James. And seeing that would benefit my business in the long run more, I think I will go with that.

Now for the hard task of coming up with a great brand name that I can create an identity around. :)

Thanks so much for your input!

Mike Bronner
Mike Bronner
16,395 Points

I think what I'll do with the keyword domains I bought for this purpose is to redirect them to the respective landing pages on my branded site. This seems to be in accordance with SEO standards and won't get penalized by the search engines.

Would you guys consider this bad form, or good strategy?

Mike Bronner
Mike Bronner
16,395 Points

OK, I have a thrown a few ideas around, but still am not getting that AHA! moment where the brand name feels just right.

So here are the services I provide at the moment:

  • German - English Translations (handwritten, centuries old documents, as well as printed and typed, of course)
  • Web Development & Design (thinking of specifying niche market in Genealogy)
  • Wordpress Theme & Plugin Development (have 3 plugins in development at the moment, related to Genealogy)
  • Hosting for my web site clients

I plan on expanding my services in the near future to:

  • iOS and OS/X software for genealogy
  • Professional Genealogical Research (aid and research ancestry for clients, producing reports, documentation)

So, I started out with genealogywebdesign.com as my keyword-centric domain, and have moved on to genealworks.com as my branded domain. GenealWorks is a nice play on words (genial - friendly) -- but I think I'm not seeing the forrest for the trees. What do you guys think?