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A successful startup needs an effective website, and the first step to achieving that is choosing the right domain name. — Getty Images/golubovy

To find success in business today, you need a website: 97% of consumers search online to find local businesses. If you spend time building your physical storefront to make a positive impact on consumers, you should also focus on your digital storefront.

A website is one of the most important assets a business can have in the modern world. It's often the first impression a customer will get, so you want to make sure your domain name is appropriate and memorable. Here’s everything you need to know about registering your domain name.

What is a domain name?

Before diving into how to find, create and register a domain name, it’s important to define what a domain name is. At its most basic level, a domain name is the web address people will type into their browser to go to your website. Domain names serve to connect computers in an accessible, simple way. The internet is a decentralized connection of millions of computers, all with different IP addresses. Domain names allow us to quickly and easily identify different locations without having to memorize complicated IP addresses.

[Read: Ready to Launch a Website? Understanding Web Hosting and Domain Name Registration Services]

To find success in business today, you need a website.

Tips for choosing the right domain name

It’s important to reflect on your business and personal values before picking a domain name. Domain names can be set in stone and may be difficult to change, so choose something organic, natural and simple for people to remember.

Research your name

The most important step to registering a domain name is researching your business name first. The world is a big place, and there’s a very good chance your preferred domain name is already taken. In addition to finding out availability, it’s also important to research your customers and determine what they are searching for.

Make sure your domain name is catchy and relevant

Your name needs to be easily defined and simple to remember. It should roll off the tongue and embody your brand. Try to choose a domain name that most closely resembles your business’s name. This will help customers identify you online as well as in person.

Try to find a .com

Finding a “.com” domain name is essential. It’s the most genuine and organic domain name type. You want a website that’s trustworthy and natural, not something that feels sketchy. Do your best to find a .com domain name that you can use. It’s the most popular domain name type, and your customers will appreciate the familiarity.

Check for trademark infringement

It’s important to always be aware of your competitors. This step ties in directly with step one: You have to know if your name has been taken. Make sure you pick a name that’s available, and you’re not infringing on another business with your current domain.

Avoid special characters

Special characters can throw your audience and customers off. Keep things simple; don’t try to add numbers or other special characters to register a unique domain name. This step ties in with a few others we’ve addressed: You have to focus on creating a website that’s natural and trustworthy, not something that’s hard to remember.

[Read: How to Choose a Business Name]

Steps for registration

Once you’ve found a domain name you like, there are a few steps you need to take to register it:

  • Find a domain checker: There are several online services where you can check if a domain is available.
  • Confirm your domain's availability: Make sure you can claim it.
  • Choose a domain registrar: Like domain checkers, there are online registrar services you can use to claim your domain name. GoDaddy is a popular example.
  • Verify your ownership: Confirm that you now own the domain.

After your registration is set up, you have to build an intuitive and user-friendly website. This is often more complicated than finding and registering a domain name. Make sure you check out our guide on web design to find out the best steps for building a great business website.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published November 26, 2019