Are domain name extensions important in naming your brand? The shortest answer is “Yes.” In today’s online world, it is the first thing that anyone sees about your company, and there begins a journey that may result in converting such a person to a paying and loyal customer. Therefore, if you are starting a business and considering giving it a name, it is crucial to take time to think about domain name extensions.
Surely, you will have to build a website for your brand. Choosing a domain name and naming your brand is almost the same these days. It is important you select the domain name extension that will reflect the core values and spirit of your business.
Of course, about five years ago, this wouldn’t be any of your worries as there weren’t many options available for you to choose from. You would only have been able to pick from either a .com, .org, and .net. Today, with the growing demand for URLs, you now have to sift through hundreds of domain name extensions to get to the right one for your brand name. But before making the decision, first, discover how domain name extensions influence your brand name.
With lots of extensions coming out, businesses wouldn’t have to try so hard with their names and ads as much as they did before. For instance, if you run a pizza company in your town and you are buying a domain name. You would not only be able to have to say tasty.com but also tasty.pizza. Same as those running engineering businesses. That way, your website becomes much more descriptive than usual, and you wouldn’t need to explain what you do so much.
Imagine when your website contains just your name with a domain extension describing what you do, you get to be able to keep both your brand name and website simple. That way your business card will become a compelling ad in itself. Generally, domain names are divided into gTLDs (generic top-level domain names) and ccTLDs (country code top-level domain names). The gTLDs cover different agencies while the ccTLDs designate various countries. Each type and their particular extensions go on to help your brand better get more recognition with how specific they are. Some creative people have managed to combine both the description of their business and their ccTLDs like discountdomains.co.nz.
Search Engine Optimization
Google Places has been a significant factor in driving sales and customers to both e-commerce and brick and mortar business. Then imagine the influence it will have now that Google is looking to import Google places to Google Local. The influence it will have on customers who use the internet to find local businesses and also for the businesses will be immense.
Using a geo-specific domain extension will increase your search ranking more and help you reach the right audience (or better put, help the right audience reach you). Also, it serves as a source of the relevant signal. Granted, Google algorithm has over 200 ranking factors of which domain extension is one. Which means it is really not a strong determiner of a site’s ranking. However, a well-positioned TLD or SLD will still help your search ranking in many ways and consequently your brand name among your target audience.
So, employing the right keyword on any of those, even when they cannot directly boost your search ranking, can still be used by search engines in some ways like relevancy signal. You find search engines bolding keywords that appear on domain names. While extensions have no direct influence on search rankings (at the much we know for now), user’s navigation habits might actually come in and you shouldn’t underestimate that.
There is a way with which extensions can influence your brand name and go on to even influence the conversion rate of your site. The way users view a website often depends on its domain extension. They often go for the ones they can easily remember and be comfortable with. For instance, some extensions appear spammy and will influence your conversion and the associations users make of your business name. Also, some domain extensions are more expensive than others.
This means that spammy sites will be less likely to use them. So websites that use them will rank higher based on trust while sites which use the cheaper ones will rank lower based on the lack of trust. Consequently, your domain extension will be influencing your brand name either positively or negatively by affecting your ranking.
Generally, a good domain name and extension will help increase your reputation and consequently your authority. By good domain names, I mean the ones with well spelled out names and extensions that people will most likely search with. But it is not enough to stop there because, in the event of a reputation attack, your domain extension will significantly help in protecting your brand name. That is why it is important to also buy other versions of your domain name. For instance, if your name is John Lewis and you are registering a Johnlewis.com, you might also want to buy a johnlew.is to deter anyone from using it against your brand name.
It is practically the same thing you would have done if you find that a johnlewis.com is already unavailable. By purchasing your preferred domain with each of the three main extensions and any other one you find strategic, you will be protecting your brand name from competition who may purposely or accidentally take the domain name you want.
The other extensions you may want to purchase will depend on a couple of factors. If you intend doing business in a particular geographic area, you should buy the extension for that place. Also, if you notice competitors are buying a particular extension like .info, you should also cover that for your brand. Of course, you cannot go buying every extension since there are already hundreds available. That will clean out your budget. But it is important to focus on the most relevant ones because when it comes to brand reputation, extensions play a big role in protecting it.
Domain name extension influences your brand name by giving it some credibility depending on the extension in question. Regardless of the fact that there are now thousands if extensions you can choose from, the .com extension is still the best as investors, customers and suppliers still see it as an indication of your business credibility.
Between a keyword, rich domain name and a brand focused one, Google still favors brand. Therefore, best practice is to get creative with the domain name and prefer a .com over others. The logic there is a simple one because it is easy for new businesses to go for something like .business or .info domain extensions while older and more credible businesses tend to have a .com extension. But you will still be positioning your business as credible with a .org or a .net extensions only that you still have to consider the political correctness of say a .org since they are preferably used by only nonprofit organizations while .net are for tech-related businesses.
When it comes to boosting your brand name, businesses make use of everything at their disposal to project their core ideals. This way, websites designs become a tool to better show what they are about. With the new domain extensions, organizations can get as creative as they want as a way to relate better with their target audience.
Therefore, instead of having, for instance, Lastfm.com, the music streaming online service registered their website as Last.fm which also speaks to their branding efforts. With more opportunities to play with your domain extensions, they now have a stronger influence on brand name and open up newer groups in their target market.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take any creative opportunity a domain extension offers you. Like every marketing decision, it has to be relevant to the broader marketing strategy and goal.
For instance, if you are marketing to the older generation, the creative effort which makes use of domain extension will not only be lost on them but might be counterproductive. This is as they are still stuck much on the .com extensions. The younger generation, however, will appreciate the creative effort.
As much as they don’t have any direct ranking benefits, your domain extensions do have an influence on your brand name. With Google announcing that even websites with the new gTLDs extensions will still be given the same geo-targeting weight as say .com, one might think extensions generally have no influence on brand name and should consequently be approached with no planning. That cannot be farther from the truth.
Google’s interest is still the provision of the most relevant content to users and domain extensions still have many ways of helping with that. For instance, a .edu tells a user the site is dedicated to education or is owned by an educational institute while a .radio is pretty descriptive and will have ample visibility benefits.