How to Choose a Domain Name

Domain names are a mystery to many of us. What words should you use? Should you hyphenate? Long names? Short names? What's a person to do? This article will explain how financial advisors can choose a domain name, many domain name do's and don'ts, and how to rank higher in the search engines.

Now a few terms for those in need of definitions. A domain name is the address of your website such as www.yoursite.com. It's also known as an URL- unique record locator. It's useful because it identifies not only where your site is located but it also serves to position your business in the marketplace by utilizing specific keywords related to your industry. Search engine optimization helps a website place higher in the natural unpaid search engine results (also called the "organic" results).

If you put considerable thought into your domain name BEFORE you start your business, you'll be in better shape than those who pick a business name first.

Here's a helpful list of key issues to consider.

Keywords – I always smile to myself when I see a website named after the business owner. Not only is that business much harder to sell when retirement comes around, the search engines are ignoring your name. In other words www.bobsmith.com is a yawn to the search engines. So what? If you want your own name in a domain name, go ahead but forward it to a name containing the key words in your industry. Unless of course you're famous - that's different.

Example:
Bob Smith is an independent financial advisor specializing in wealth management.
Bob should make sure he uses "wealth" or "management" in his domain name.

Dot com, dot biz, or dot net? Dot com is still the best choice because it's most common. Dot net is ok but not ideal if your company name is already taken under dot com. Try to stay away from dot biz. See below.

Hyphenation – The jury is out on this one. Some say it's best to hyphenate key words so that the search engines can better index your site. I would say that if your number one choice is taken, go to hyphenating. Visitors will mainly find your site through a search, so it doesn't matter if the name is a somewhat laborious.

Example:
I really wanted financial advisor coach dot com but it was taken, so I went to .biz only to find out later that .biz sites are often considered spam originators. So then I hyphenated and went to www.financial-advisor-coach.com. Unfortunately there's nothing I can do about my main site, the one you're on right now. It's a .biz and has been around since 2004 so I'm stuck with it.

Moving your site - You've had your current site for years and you're considering moving it to a domain name that has your key words. Bad idea. You will be penalized and you could lose the pagerank you've built up over time. A better idea would be to build a completely new site with new original content and link both sites.

Pagerank – I bought a domain name with my keywords, built a content-rich site but I still have a pagerank of zero. How long does it take to go up in pagerank? It takes at least six months to go up in pagerank. Be patient.

Don't understand pagerank? Download the google toolbar for your internet browser. Pagerank is google's algorithm of relevance of a particular website. It's composed of the quality and number of links pointing to your site. When all else is equal between you and a competitor, your higher page rank will boost your natural unpaid search results.

Should I use a low cost sub domain offered through my company? Don't bother with sites that offer you your own domain off a company name. Chances are your site is a mirror site of many. Duplicate content is not rewarded in the world of search engine optimization.

Example: www.jonescompany.com/bobsmith

Ease of Use – When selecting your domain name, try to create a name that is easily remembered. The best names are those you can rattle off to someone at a party without explanation. They should be able to remember it when they get home. Example: http://www.TheProsperousEntrepreneur.com

Try not to repeat the same letter twice in a row or some other awkward combination.

Example: www.totallifeconsulting.com

Although longer domain names are now more common (because many of the "good" ones are taken), it won't do you much good if your name is way too long. It also could trigger spam violations if you include more than three key words in your domain name.
Example: www.financialadvisorbusinesscoach.com This name has four keywords which may end up working against it.

Should I allow my web guy to register my domain name? No way! You want complete control of your domain name and website. Register it yourself. Check around the web for alternatives. Godaddy usually has competitive rates.

Next: Hire Suzanne as your Business Coach

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Nine Mistakes Advisors Make with Their Brand

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