Working the Web: Your name and address mean a lot
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
I have a confession to make.
Back in 1994 when I first started working on the Web site that would become Tahoe.com, we had a Web address so bad that it still gives me shivers.
I can’t remember it exactly, but it was about 30 characters long, with plenty of slashes, periods and even a few upper-case letters to go with it. It was a train wreck of a URL. And in those days when search engines were in their infancy, we depended on people being able to accurately type that address into their browser to find us.
Fortunately, we learned from our mistake and changed the address to Tahoe.com shortly thereafter.
Fast-forward to present day, and while not many local business sites are as bad as we were, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
Getting a good domain name is like finding a good brick-and-mortar location for your business. The better the domain, the more traffic you will likely get. And like locations, good domains can be hard to get.
But what is a good domain name? It depends on what your business is. If you are a local business that has been around for a while, and you have done a decent job of branding your business, then use that same brand. This will help people find you if they just type your name in the browser, or use a search engine (a subject for many later columns).
But what if your business is Main Street Boutique? There has to be hundreds of businesses with the same name. If you are located in Carson City, then try registering mainstreetboutiquecarson.com. It’s long, but people trying to find you commonly Google your business name plus what city you are in to find you.
Some businesses opt to have a domain name that describes what they do instead of their brand. That can work as well, but it is also a good idea to lock up the domain name of your brand as well, and point it to your site.
While there are a lot of ways to market your Web site online using search engines, a lot of people miss out on the easy, low-tech marketing tricks. For instance, I see business cards, brochures and advertisements all the time that do not list the Web site address. It’s amazing how many people miss out on this simple thing. If you want people to visit your site, then make sure the address is on everything your customers might see, from your business cards to your store window.
Another tip is making sure to use an e-mail address that matches the Web site’s domain name. If you have a business Web site, yet give people your Gmail or Yahoo e-mail address, you are missing a chance to market your site.
Even if you want to use Gmail, you can set up e-mail addresses using your domain name that forward to Gmail or any other email account. You also can set up your reply-to address and signature to reflect that name. This way, every time you send out e-mails, the recipients are able to see your Web site address. It also looks more professional to use your business domain name.
Give some thought to how to get your name out there so people can find your business on the Web. The fanciest Web site in the world does no good if your customers can’t find it. And that starts with your name, so make it a good one.
– Contact reporter Kirk Caraway at email@example.com or 775-881-1261.