Choosing a Domain Name

Choosing a Domain Name

Whether you're building a new website or looking to expand your online presence, choosing a domain name is an essential first step that must be considered and addressed.

We've developed a few helpful tips regarding your domain name that should make the process easier now and in the future.

You don't own your domain name.

When you select a domain name, you are not purchasing the domain name; instead, you are leasing the domain name for a period of time.

When your lease is up, you can renew the domain name or let it lapse if it is no longer needed.

For these reasons, your payment information must always be current with your registrar (the company you registered your domain name with).

Suppose your domain is set to renew, and your payment information needs to be updated. In that case, your domain name will expire, and your website, email, and any other services attached to that domain name will no longer work. This can cause damage to your company in terms of lost leads or business or even temporary removal of your pages from search engines.

  1. Check with your registrar every few months to ensure your payment information is up-to-date.
  2. If the option is available, and you intend to keep using your domain name far into the future, set your domain name to auto-renew. This way, when the domain name expires, it will automatically be renewed with the payment information stored.
  3. We highly recommend private registration. Most registrars will make your contact information available to the public by default. This may result in spam emails and phishing letters trying to get you to transfer your domain to another potentially more expensive service. If you elect for private registration (usually at a small additional cost), your contact information will be private.
  4. When submitting your contact information, make sure you are using an off-domain email address. For example, if you register, don't list your billing email as If your domain name expires, you won't be able to receive emails reminding you to renew your domain name.

Always register your domain name yourself.

When an agency creates a website for you, having them register your domain name for you makes sense. They have more experience and know what settings must be changed to make your website and email work properly.

But what if the worst happens? What if you have a falling out with your agency, or even worse, they fail to renew your domain name or even go out of business?

We've seen it several times where an agency (or a web designer) will purchase a domain name on behalf of a client. After some time, they disappear and cannot be contacted. The domain name expires, and the client loses all the equity put into the domain name.

Register a domain name on your own (which, with most registrars, is a straightforward process). You will always maintain control, and it will be yours to do with as you wish: if you want to close it or move to another agency or designer, you have that ability without undue stress.

Your primary domain name should match your business name as much as possible.

As with other avenues, you want to protect your brand with your domain name. Most people will start with your business name if they need help remembering your domain name. Look at McDonald's, Walmart, and Apple.

If your domain name closely matches, your customers and potential customers will have a better frame of reference.

This also prevents an unsavory but completely legal practice: poaching. A competitor of yours could register a domain name with your business name, trying to capture business that was meant for you for themselves.

Unless you are a non-profit organization, your primary domain name should be a .com name. Most people are familiar with this top-level domain (TLD for short), and it will usually be the default they type in to get to your website.

Secondary domains - why do I need them, and what should they be?

Domain names are relatively inexpensive, usually less than $20 per year. Therefore, we always recommend having multiple domain names; it serves a few purposes.

  1. You can create alternate domain names with keywords related to your industry that may not appear in your primary domain name. For, you could register alternate domain names like or
  2. If you are advertising offline, like in a direct mail project or magazine ad, using a secondary domain will help you track your return on investment (ROI). By using a secondary domain for specific offline advertisements, you can track the number of visitors to your site from that domain name so you can see for yourself if your advertising is effective.
  3. If your primary domain is a little long, you can get a shorter secondary domain name for email. It's much easier to type as opposed to
  4. Get spelling alternates. Look at us: xclntDesign is confusing to type. Unfortunately for us, is a premium domain name and is cost-prohibitive. So, we went with, which works for our website and email.

KIST (Keep It Simple, Typing-wise)

You want a simple primary domain name. The shorter your domain name, the easier it will be for your customers to remember; that's what you want to be their first thought regarding your services.

For that reason, when it comes to your primary domain name:

  1. Avoid using too many characters, as it increases the chance of a typo. is better than
  2. Avoid using small, potentially unnecessary words in your domain name like andthe, and business suffixes like inc or llc. Removing the small words helps keep your domain name short, and your primary domain name does not have to be an exact match to your business name.
  3. Avoid using numbers. They can get confusing to remember ("Do I need to type 3 or three?").
  4. Avoid using hyphens. If someone else has registered a domain name you would like to use, and you add a hyphen to make it your own, you're not doing yourself any favors. Many people forget to add the hyphen and use your competitor's services.

Domain Name Variants - .net, .us, .toomanyoptions

Like we said earlier, your primary domain name should always be .com unless you are a non-profit, in which case you should use .org.

But for your secondary domain name, you can choose from over 1,000 top-level domains (TLDs). You can choose generic ones like .biz or .us or something more specific to your industry, like .builders or .pizza. And with options like that, you can get clever.

Getting Clever -

Combine keywords with an interesting top-level domain (TLD), and you can create a clever secondary domain name for your advertising and marketing campaigns.

We have, which will take you to this site, but you can come up with others like:


For a complete list of top-level domain names, visit the ICANN site.

Check the domain history.

Before choosing any domain name, whether it's your primary or secondary domain, always check the domain name history so you don't get penalized for someone else's bad behavior.

If a domain name was previously used, and the site it was directed to performed actions against Google or other search engines' rules (like malware or spam), the domain name could be flagged, preventing your site from appearing in search results. Because this is rare but not unheard of, Google does not have a way to remedy this without exhaustive phone calls and emails that could take weeks or even months.

When you've picked a domain name you'd like to register, check it out on the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive. You can see the entire history of a domain name, including any websites that may have existed before yours.

If you have questions about domain names, you can contact xclntDesign at any time, and we will help you to the best of our ability.


Internet Marketing
Web Design


Fred Nendza


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6 minutes, 48 seconds reading time


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