U-C WEBS' founder Nardo KuitertBy Nardo Kuitert, U-C WEBS
[Published in Minding Our Business, June 2008 for the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce]

Where does a website start? With a domain name. Choose your domain name carefully, as a lot of your online success will depend on it.

Here are some things to consider:

1. The name – What name do you want for your website? YourCompanyName? YourMainProductName? You can choose these with or without hyphens, so Your-Company-Name is also possible. Your decision may be based on the answer to questions like: will people guess a certain domain name (based on your company’s name, for instance), do you rely heavily on search engine traffic (so you may want a keyword-rich domain name), and more.

2. The extension – the most common domain name extensions are .com and .ca, but there are others as well, like .net, .org and .biz. So you can choose YourCompanyName.com or WackyProductFeature.ca. A .com domain name is very easy to register, but for a .ca domain name you will also have to register with the CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority). There is a Canadian presence requirement for .ca domain names; .com can be registered by anyone. It is often recommended to register several domain extensions, in order to eliminate online competition and protect your brand.

3. Availability – Think you got a great domain name in mind? Then you better hope that nobody else thought of it first! Today there are over 153 million registered domain names. Recently the one-millionth .ca domain name was registered. Not that all of these have turned into websites (yet), by the way. Some domain name brokers have bought domain names in bulk and hope to resell these at a profit. So, if you really, really want to own a domain name that already has been registered, you can always try to contact the current owners and see if they are willing to sell. Beware, though: prices will be steep. And your changes of success are slim to none if this domain name is actively used for a website, of course.

4. Where to buy – Prices are all over the board. And then I am not talking about those brokers I mentioned before, but online domain name registrars and resellers. You can buy domain names anywhere from free (with a hosting contract) to $50 a year. I personally always buy my .com domain names under $10 a year and .ca domain names under $20. Where to buy may depend on price as well as features offered, like domain name or email forwarding. Transferring a domain name is usually very straightforward: the extra year you buy with the new registrar will just be added to your current registration term.

5. Privacy – Another feature that some registrars offer, for free or at a fee, is anonymity. If you do not want people to know that you own a certain domain name, then you can add whois-protection to your registration. This means that a generic intermediary will show as the site owner, and emails sent to this generic intermediary’s email address are then forwarded to you.

Nardo Kuitert is an Internet Consultant with Fergus Website Development and Optimization firm U-C WEBS (www.u-cwebs.com). U-C WEBS also offers Internet advertising opportunities on www.ferguspages.com. (link opens in a new window)

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