How to Choose Your Domain Name
What is a domain name? GuitarFlipper.com is the domain name for this website. I have another guitar-related website with the domain name of GuitarsDoneRight.com. Your domain name will be your base web address.
So, if your domain name was “BestGuitarsEver.com” – BTW case (capitalization) is irrelevant in domain names. You’ll get to the website no matter what case structure – capital letters, small letters, etc., you use. But case can make a difference after the “top-level domain” if a website is hosted on a Windows server.
Top-level domain is the few letters after the dot. i.e.: .com; .biz; .net; .org The first two are typically used for commercial businesses while the last two are generally thought of as non-profit organizations.
A “.com” domain will have more prestige than the other types. That may change someday, but for now you should strive for a .com name. Yes – most of the “good ones” are taken.
Considerations for a Domain Name
Branding Your Guitar Business
You have two major things to consider when choosing your domain name – branding and search engine optimization (SEO). Deciding upon your branding should be the first thing you do – before writing your business plan or any other steps in your startup process.
You should consider your demographics; your competition; your skill set and level and what products and services you’d like to provide. Your business name should tell people what you do. Your domain name should reflect your branding AND include a major keyword to make sure customers will find you on the Web.
“Branding” calls for a whole section for itself – and one is coming. Unfortunately, building a website, like writing a book, is a sequential process – I can only write one topic at a time. So I’ll proceed with placing the cart before the horse and write what should be an earlier section – later.
Meanwhile Google can get you plenty of branding info, but here’s a good place to start – Branding Your Small Business.
So at this point, I’m assuming you’ve written down your brand and have made a list of potential domain names that fit your branding.
SEO For Your Guitar Flipping Business
But let’s not “eeny-meeny” and choose from that list! There is another huge consideration – Search Engines! If “SEO” isn’t a part of your vocabulary already, it will be from here on out. Packing a key word or two into your domain name will give you a big boost in the search engine rankings.
The above article refers to a new Google policy of checking websites with keyword packed domain names and ensuring they are not “low-quality” content. Similar misleading headlines say that keywords in domains are not needed, etc. While it’s true that you can rank well without your main keywords in your domain name, it definitely does help to have them.
When I first went back into the guitar business (after a four decade ‘vacation’), my goal was to help people avoid buying used guitars with problems. My brand was to sell only affordable guitars that I’d checked out, completely setup, new strings, intonated, etc. So I chose the name “GuitarsDoneRight.com”.
But as the years went by, my business became mainly service related. I got known for doing great setups. Now I don’t have as much time to prepare guitars for sale because I’m usually working on customer guitar jobs, which happen to be generally more profitable than guitar sales. Thankfully, this domain name works well for both sales and service.
I mention this because you need to try and think ahead and choose a name that won’t tie you to a niche you may eventually outgrow.
Your Guitar Shop “Location”
If you were opening a retail guitar store, your three main considerations would be “Location, location, location”. Your virtual store is no different except we replace the word “location” with “SEO”.
Whether “location” or “SEO”, the purpose is to have your guitar customers find your guitar business. A great retail location is expensive. The cool thing about your virtual store is that SEO is free! Not easy, but free.
Think about your ideal customers. In another section, we’ll do an exercise where we imagine our three most probable customer types and work up marketing to appeal to each type. For now, imagine being one of your potential customers – one who doesn’t know you exist.
So they need some work done on their guitar. Or maybe they’re in the market for a guitar. (Try this out for various potential guitar customer types). They sit in front of their Laptop with Google on the screen and they type…what? What are the words they’ll type and ask Google to search for?
If they’re likely to type a city name, town, etc. to narrow the results down to local guitar shops – what town(s) will they type? Will they abbreviate? Examples: “guitar shop LA”; “guitar store st pete”; “guitars dls” or would they type: “guitar shop los angeles”; “guitar store saint petersburg”; “guitars dallas”.
If I’m in Tampa, I might want to work that name into my domain. Maybe tampaguitars.com. If I’m specializing in guitar repairs, maybe “TampaGuitarRepairs.com” (remember capitalization means nothing other than making it more readable).
Ideally, your domain name will tell people what you do; give a sense of your branding and include at least one keyword that your customers will type into a search engine to find you.
The name of your business might be “Sally’s Guitars” but having “Sally” in your domain name will only help people find you if they already know you exist.
And yet ours is a personal business. When it comes right down to it, customers buy from us or bring their guitars to us because they like us and trust us. So you do need your name to be prominent. It just doesn’t have to be the name of your business or part of your domain name.
I list myself as “Guitar Tech” on my business cards, under a larger font that says “GuitarsDoneRight.com”. That’s right, I actually use my domain name as my business name. That’s how important my website is to my business.
There are plenty of websites that go deeper into the weeds on choosing a domain name and on branding a small business, so I’ll trust you’ll choose a great domain name with the info above and your ability to Google more resources as needed.
Registering Your Guitar Business Domain Name
You’ve chosen a name, but is it available? How can you register it? How can you tell the Internet where your website is hosted? What is web hosting? Does that cost more money? (Yes)
Companies authorized to “sell” domain names are called “registrars”. Some registrars license others to sell for them and some of those licensees license still others. As you can imagine, there are usually commissions paid at each step, making it optimal to buy as direct as possible.
Let me clear up one thing – you cannot “buy” a domain name. You can only “rent” them by the year. You can license a domain name for one or more years.
I am licensed through my hosting deal to sell domain names and I could make money doing that, but the customers would pay a bit more than they otherwise would.
Not all first-level registrars are the same. They charge different fees and have different contracts. The best registrar I’ve found is Hover.com. I don’t make one cent from them, this is just straight-forward advice. They have the most customer-friendly contracts and good prices with no gimmicks.
You can use the search feature on their website to see if your domain name is available. If it is not available, Hover will suggest other top level domains (TLDs) like .biz, etc. Try not to go that route. Try to come up with a great .com domain name for your guitar flipping business.
TO BE CONTINUED