Often people use their preferences, likes and dislike to choose a domain name for their business, personal or corporate brand. Unknown to many, just like baby names can affect their esteem in their community, your domain name can be disturbing to your future efforts to market the business using the website.
What is a domain name? For everyday people, a domain name is a name used to address your website, for example, what’s in the brackets is the domain name [yourbusinessname].co.zw. Your domain name can also be used to house your private email addresses which will be like firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is a domain name extension? A domain name extension is the last elements of a full domain name. If your full domain name is yourbusinessname.co.zw, then the domain name extension is .co.zw. There are many domain name extensions which are available for anyone to use but not all are suitable for some situations.
It’s important to give thought to the process of choosing domain names. The following pointers are to help you consider all the things that are affected by your domain name choice. There are also tips on how you can make your domain name work to your advantage.
1. Your business type and domain extensions
What business are you involved in? Domain name extensions have impressions they give to experienced internet users. Depending on your business there is certain domain extension you must use to be authentic.
Business types here include profit-making, non-profit, NGOs, personal brands, and corporates. The business types, in this case, are not about the industry really but the nature of the organization.
Domain name extensions and their meanings
.com – this is an international domain name for company or commercial. This domain name gives the impression that they entity is a profit making entity. There it is inappropriate for non-profit organizations to use this extension. However, it may be the right one if you are a commercial entity.
co.zw – this is the .com domain but local to Zimbabwe. This domain is geo-targeted to Zimbabwe by Search engines. This will be appropriate for all business entities in Zimbabwe to use. Again, it’s inappropriate for NGOs, and non-profit entities to use this domain name extension.
org – this an international domain name for an organization. This domain is dominated by non-profit and NGOs. The impression that experienced people have about this domain extension is that the entity is a non-profit. Therefore they would expect a ‘donate’ PayPal button than a ‘buy now’ one.
org.zw – this is a .org domain name extension but for Zimbabwe.
I just covered these domain name extensions because they give any business the authenticity they need to do well. Other domain names .net, .info etc can work very well for some instances but they have inherent trust issues. For example, you would expect every business to own their domain on .co.zw or .com in Zimbabwe, the .net just feels bogus for a commercial business. (At least in the space I am, make a comment to air your views below)
I am not saying that all .net websites are bogus but I am talking about the impressions that someone who doesn’t know your business will have the first time they interact with your website.
Depending on the type of business you are involved in, you will need an appropriate domain name. Make sure that your choices are going work for the best of the organization. Let’s move on.
2. Your brand name
Your website name must be very close to what you are pushing. What are you selling? The company or the product/service brand?
There are companies that produce products that use a different name for the business name. An example would be Unilever and geisha. Unilever manufactures the soap but many of the people using the products may not even know Unilever.
When choosing a domain name, it must be close to what you sell. In the case on Unilever, it very wise for them to register and have websites for each of their brands. That’s what they sell and it’s what people would fall in love with and follow online not the mother company.
A brand name will always be better than a company name. A good example of this is Nestle, they have 4000 websites around the world for their different products in different languages.
For people pushing personal brands, the best for them is to use their names as the domain names. This is common with Christian church preachers, for example, people follow people in the Christian circles. The church website may not be the ideal domain name to push a minister’s personal brand. I would advise all people pushing personal brands to have websites in their name because that’s what people follow.
3. Your target audience
Your target audience is crucial in choosing a domain name. Who are you targeting? Where do you plan to get them from (method of driving traffic to the website)? What do they want?
If you intend to drive your traffic from search engines, for example, your domain name needs to have your main keywords in it. Using a local carpenter in Avondale, Harare as an example.
Who are you targeting? The target is people looking for carpentry services in his neighborhood and anywhere within a 30km radius. Based on that the following domain names would work
If the carpenter is targeting businesses partitioning offices specifically, the following domains could be much more appropriate:
You may be thinking, these are terrible domains! You are right but it depends on your goals. Let’s move on to the next question.
Where do you plan to get your visitors from? The carpenter has had his business over the years working because of a strong referral network. Now he is looking into getting more clients from search engines.
Assuming that he is a general carpenter, the following domains will work:
What do they want? Carpentry services including but not limited to fixing broken wooden furniture, making new furniture, office partitioning and fixing roof leaks.
For the Avondale Carpenter, who wants to drive more business leads from search engines, the best domain name options are:
If you want to drive traffic people to your website using radio, and other offline outreach methods, it’s critical to use a domain name that is easy to remember. Besthararecarpenter.co.zw is too long for people to easily remember it. In this case, it’s much better to stick to the carpenter’s brand name which is Wood Craft. So the domain name would be woodcraft.co.zw. Now that’s a fantastic name, someone should grab it!
That said it is very important to know who you are targeting, the method you intend to drive traffic to the website and the interests of your audience in choosing your domain name. Choosing domain names without this thinking may endanger you into foot shooting.
4. Your business needs
What are you trying to achieve with the website? Here are possibly good reasons for having a website:
- To sell products/services online
- To get business leads for a service business
- To support product sales with manuals, and self-service platforms
- To aid brand trustworthiness
- To develop a community around the business/brand
Having your goals and vision started out helps in choosing a domain. If you want to sell products/services, for example, it is advised that you used a domain name with high trust levels, known in your clientele and easy to remember as well. Usually, that means a domain name around the trusted brand.
If you want to offer sales support materials, you are not constrained by the trust issues because the people who will use it are already your clients and you will be directing them there. For example, if the carpenter needs a community that he teaches people how to take care of wooden furniture for it last longer, he may use a different with no harm.
5. Business branding styles
You need a website that fits into your business’ branding style. The domain must fit well and sound coherent with everything on all the advertising materials and stationary.
A good example would be a company that uses a website which is not even related to their brand name. A company called HJ Holdings, then the website will be harunajacobholdingsint.co.zw. I guess you get the point here. The domain name must flow with the branding efforts of the organization and must not introduce something new into the mix. In some cases, you will need to buy domain names from people who own them so that the business branding is protected.
A domain name with 26 characters will be a challenge to add to business cards and still be readable for example. You will need something that aligns itself with the branding style and image you want to create.
Advice on choosing domain names
Choose a domain name that will meet the following online marketing standards for your business:
1. Gets Google to send relevant traffic to your website.
My advice for all Zimbabwean businesses is that they use .co.zw domain name extension because it’s naturally goe-targeted to Zimbabwe. That makes it inherently powerful to compete in search results on Google.co.zw. Why do you think Google has domains for every country? Part of the reason is to help the local websites more visible in their space. That’s a .co.zw domain name has more power in the Google.co.zw that it has in a Google.co.uk as an example.
Another way to get relevant traffic is to include your main keywords in the domain name. This can be very tricky when you want to keep the domain name short as well. In that case, the goals, targets, and strategy would need to be weighed to determine which way to go.
2. People easily remember
A domain which is easy to remember would do much better than a complex long name. That is if your business prevails on referrals and repeat visits to the website. If your domain is going to be featured in some offline media or outreach efforts, it’s important that it stays short, sweet and memorable.
Note that many businesses online own different domain and they have different purposes. Some companies separate the website and emails domain names, this is done to fight spamming. One of the reasons is so that the other domains may achieve other business goals. For examples, if you need a create a community of like-minded marketing professionals, for example, it will be very hard to use a business brand name. A more generic name like marketing.co.zw or marketingminds.co.zw would better than hjmarketingconsultants.co.zw.
Use a domain name that people easily remember so that you can benefit from referrals and repeat visits.
3. The business you are involved in.
Here are the general guidelines for choosing domain name extensions that work for your industry:
• .co.zw (.com ) – for all commercial and profit making websites. If you are targeting to sell the product/service to Zimbabweans, use the .co.zw domain name.
• .org.zw (.org) – for all NGOs and non-profit boardies. This gives them more trust and totally removes that commercial feel from the operation.
I advise all business which targets primarily the Zimbabwean audience to use co.zw domain extension.
Extra Information on Domain Names
Domain Name Search
One domain name can only have one owner. If someone has registered already it’s no longer available for you to register. All domain names are unique across the world. You can check here if your preferred domain name is still on the link below.
Buying a Domain Name.
Domain names are rented on an annual basis. In that sense, no one owns a domain but everyone is renting a domain. So for you to have a domain you need to rent from a domain registrar. The prices of domain names differ with providers here are our prices:
- Local domain names (.co.zw, .org.zw, .ac.zw)- $15
- International domain names (.com, .net, .org) – $15
- New domains (.blog, .website, .guru, .consult, .host) – available by request
You can search for your domain names and proceed to buy it if it’s available on the link below.
Securing a Domain Name
There are times when you are not ready to build a website but you need to own it for the right time. In that case, you need to buy the domain name and park it. This is what domain brokers do, they buy domain names so that they can sell them later.
Choosing domain names is not about what you feel like nor your preferences. A domain is something that has a lasting effect on your business and you wanna do it right from the onset. Take time and think through the business you are involved in, the clients you serve, how you intend to drive people to the website and what the people are looking for at your website.
What did I miss in this write-up? Lets talk, add your thoughts and comments in the section below.