It seems like such a simple thing – choosing a domain name for your business. Domain names are the “address” by which your website is found on the Internet. In fact, websites are identified by an IP address that looks something similar to 123.456.789.0. But, that looks ugly and it’s hard to remember – so, domain names act like a mask on top of the IP address. It’s much easier to remember www.ABCTravelCompany.com rather than an IP address! But, if you don’t plan properly, your domain name can actually hurt your business! I have seen many strange domain names in this industry, some of which make me ask, “What were they thinking?”
- Keep it short: You want your domain name to be easy to remember, but you also need to keep in mind you want people to type it out when they want to visit your website, or send you an email. So, a domain name like www.ABCTravel.com is easy to remember, and it’s a respectable length. www.BillyBobsTravelAgencyAndBaitShop.com is also easy to remember, but it’s horribly long. Who wants to type all that everytime they want to send you an email?
- Keep It Logical: Using the bait shop example above, a bad idea is to use www.bbtaabs.com. It’s an acronymized domain name, for Billy Bob’s place, but it looks … odd. And when you try to pronounce it, it just gets a little hilarious. If you do opt for the acronymized route, make sure it makes sense for your business, and make sure you look at the acronymized version before you obtain it. There have been many examples of unintentional bad words or unprofessional words found in an acronymized domain name.
- Don’t Go Fad: The most common domain extensions are .com, followed by .net; undoubtedly the .com is the first one people like to think of, and sadly, the availability of .com domain extensions is getting less and less each year. If you can’t find your preferred domain name in .com, be open to the possibility of an alternate version, or opt for the .net version instead. Stay away from “fad” domain extensions like .me, .biz, or others. It’s harder for people to remember that your website is not a .com or .net, and the others haven’t grown enough in popularity or use to really be of any benefit in business.
- Know Your Neighbor: If your chosen domain name is not available in .com format, and you’re considering the .net version, know what website is on the .com name. If it’s a related business, i.e. another travel agency, you may be better off trying a different domain name entirely. A common typo when people type a web address is to type .com when they meant .net, so if your .com name goes to another travel agency ,it will be harder for you to market things properly and generate the traffic you’re due. However, if your .com and .net names are both available, buy them both and save yourself future grief with someone taking “your” domain name and making trouble for your online presence. I’ve seen this happen to others, and it’s never pretty.
- Don’t Restrict Yourself: If you operate www.ABCTravel.com and you already own that domain name, good for you! Why not expand on your marketing efforts and take advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) by registering related domain names that contain terms people may be searching for? As an example, my group cruise event niche is at www.ExclusiveEventsAtSea.com. But, I have three other domain names that point to the same website – if someone searches for keywords that are in my other domain names, I have a better chance of them visiting my website because it showed up in the search results where my original website might not have.
Steve Cousino, ACC, CTA, LS has been a travel professional since 2005 and currently owns Exclusive Events At Sea (http://www.exclusiveeventsatsea.com) and Journeys By Steve (http://www.journeysbysteve.com) with specializations in group cruising, individual ocean & river cruising, and personalized experiences in Europe, especially the British Isles. In addition, Steve heads up WordPressForTravelAgents.com, an email-based WordPress education system designed specifically for the busy travel professional. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.