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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Making the Most of Your Domain Name

If you've decided to start a website for your business, you must first buy a domain name (aka a web address like www.psu.edu). A quick google search for hosting companies will bring back hundreds of companies that sell domain names. Choose one that has good reviews and the payment options you prefer.

Once you've decided on a hosting company, you need to choose what you want your domain name to be. In the article "Do's and Don'ts of Securing a Domain Name" on Entrepreneur.com, author Jane Porter describes some important things to consider when choosing a domain name.

1. Include a location or keywords in your domain name, if you can. When Mikalai Krivenko needed a domain for his painting business in Hoboken, N.J. in 2009, he chose hobokenpainter.com, which shows up at the top of keyword searches that include "Hoboken" and "painter." Whether it's location, or what your company does, Krivenko advises: "Put the most important keyword for your industry in the domain name."

2. Register yourself as the owner of the domain name. "It's just like a piece of property. If you don't own the property, you can't sell an existing business," says Jean Bedord, a Silicon Valley-based search consultant and author of the book I've Got a Domain Name--Now What???.

3. Remember to renew your domain name registration. If you lapse in renewing your registration, another company can buy your domain name and then you are out the domain name you have been using. Customers might lose touch with you because they can't find your website.

4. Don't use dashes, abbreviations or numbers in your domain name. "You get much more word-of-mouth if it's a name you can easily say without having to spell out," says Fan Bi, owner of clothing line Blank Label. His website traffic rose 25% when he changed from blank-label.com to blanklabel.com.

5. Don't waste money on extensions other than .com. "The reality is you have to pay for every one of those. The value is really in the .com," says Bedford.

6. Don't buy a domain without checking into its past. Even available domains can be exposed to legal trouble if the name is too similar to another company's trademark.

As an ag entrepreneur, do you have a website? How did you choose your web address?

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