Whether you’re trying to sell a product, publicize a cause, market a service, or simply market yourself, your official website will be one of the most important tools you have. It’s how you present yourself and your message to the world. It’s how people will find out that you even exist, how they found out more information about you, how they’ll communicate with you, and, ultimately, it’s how they’ll decide if they want to do business with you, and maybe it’s even how they do the business, too.
But before you can get to any of that fun or productive stuff, there’s one essential step you need to complete: the domain name purchase. Your domain name is the basic part of the web address, or URL, everything after the “www.” and before the first slash. Though it seems like a simple step, it’s actually one of the most important, and this article will explain why.
The first reason is fairly obvious: a top-level domain is easier to remember, easier to communicate, and easier to find. If you can simply attach a ‘.com’, ‘.net’, or something similar to the end of your brand, you can more easily communicate that to your customers, and they’re more likely to remember it when it comes time to visit you.
In fact, in many circles, having a top-level domain is expected. It’s a sign that you’re a serious business person with a cause worth listening to. Connecting your website with a free service, say www.cutewebsites.com/mybusiness, immediately communicates a message of amateurism and uncaring. It also muddles your brand, by associating your company with another one. When you give out your URL, you’re not simply advertising your business, you’re also giving free advertising to cutewebsites.com as well!
That cutewebsites domain has another problem: if cutewebsites ever shuts down, or if you decide you want to make the switch with a top-level domain name purchase, it’s not possible to move your website. You’ll have to start at square one with advertising your site’s location. If you host your site on a top-level domain, you can change hosting companies without any visible differences from the front end. Otherwise, all bookmarks to your site will come back broken, all links to your site will come back broken, and any advertising materials you have listing the previous URL will have to be re-done.
Even if you’re not immediately setting up your website, it’s still strongly recommended that you make the domain name purchase. Domain names are sold on a first-come-first-serve basis, so if you’re not quick, someone else may come along and snap up your chosen domain. They may use this domain to market their services under your name, which is bad for business and bad for your brand, or they may simply purchase the domain at an inexpensive to rate to sell it to you for significantly more. Ultimately, domain names are quite inexpensive, with most companies selling unclaimed domains for well under $100 a year, and when that could save you an exorbitant charge in the thousands further down the line, it’s certainly worth it.