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Choosing a domain name seems like a pretty straightforward process, when in reality it can be pretty tricky.

SO you have come up wit the perfect name for your company or catchy phrase that describes our services and you want to get a website. The first step will be choosing and securing a domain name.

The first thing you will need to do is determine if the domain name is available to register. This can be both disappointing and daunting. Back when we started our first internet business we could have registered microsoft.com. Yes, believe it or not Microsoft was a bit behind us. My point is back then you pretty much had your pick of domain names. That is not true today with so many people registering domain names the available options dwindle daily. Add to that the number of domain names that are registered and just parked hoping one day someone will want that domain and pay them for it. So what do you need to know about choosing and registering the perfect domain?

Do: Choose a domain name that helps with SEO

For example if you offer Real Estate services in the Atlanta area a good domain would be atlantarealestate.com. Putting your location in is a good idea if you offer local services. But what if I want my company name to be my domain name? That is fine as well, you could register both. For example you own a bakery called Sweet Treats in Seattle, Wa. you could register seattlebakery.com and sweetreats.com and just point the business domain to the seattlebakery.com domain.

Do: ALWAYS register your domain in YOUR name and YOUR contact information.

This is probably the #1 DO on my list. I have seen many businesses lose their domain names because they let their web designer or hosting provider register their domains with their own business name and contact information. Why is this a BIG NO-NO? Because what happens when the business disappears (trust me this happens more then you realize), or you decide you don’t like where your site is hosted and you want to move it. In the first scenario the company has disappeared and there is no one to get the renewal notice when your domain comes up for renewal. When it doesn’t get renewed the domain name you just worked so hard to secure, market and build up traffic to goes back in the pot for someone else to register and chances are unless it is trademarked you won’t get it back. Even if it is trademarked can you afford to lose that much business? NO! Always register it your self and use an email account you will always have access to for renewal notices. In the second scenario you decide you want to change your hosting company but they have registered your domain. Hopefully you have chosen a reputable hosting company and they will work with you to get the domain transferred, but they can still make it difficult. Better to just have and maintain control from the beginning

DO: Make sure you renew your domain!

When you register your domain you will list yourself as the administrative contact and use your email address for communications from the registrar. It is vitally important that you maintain the email account and respond to renewal notices as soon as you receive them. I can tell you dozens of heartbreaking stories of companies who did not renew their domains only to have them scooped up by predators or even their competitors, losing untold amounts of money and in some cases their businesses all together. NEVER let this mistake cost you!

DON’T: Choose a domain name that includes dashes, abbreviations or numbers if at all possible.

When choosing a domain name make it as catchy and simple as possible. For example you really want the domain name georgiahotspots.com but it is not available and the only variation that is is georgia-hot-spots.com is. The first thing you will encounter is competing with traffic going to the domain without the dashes. The second problem you will run into is having to remind people to use the dashes. It is much more simple for you and your audience to just say georgia hot spots dot com then have to say georgia dash hot dash spots dot com. This is true with number and abbreviations. You get more bang for your buck if you keep it simple and memorable.

DON’T: Register the .net (or any other extension) of the domain you have your heart set on.

You have come up with the perfect domain name but it is only available in .net what should you do? Pick another domain name! I run into this quite often and it may seem like a harsh answer but the reality is you will only be losing traffic to the .com version. As a rule, unless you are protecting a trademark, you don’t need the .net or other extensions. The value is in the .com version. Again, say you want beachdestinations.com as your domain name but it is already taken but the .net is available, how many people do you think will forget to put .net in and end up visiting the .com instead.

DON’T: Register a domain without thoroughly researching it.

Make sure it is not going to violate a trademark. For example you cannot use Microsoft in you domain name without courting problems. Also check to make sure the domain name was not owned by someone else who violated Google’s terms and conditions and got banned from Google. Do your due diligence and be blessed.