If you want to establish a web presence for your business and solidify your brand online, you need a website. And the first thing that you need to do to create a successful online space is to get a domain name.

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What is a domain name?

A domain name is the address that people type into the browser URL to get to your site. If your website were a house, your domain name is the address. Every website sits on a server which is technically a computer that talks to other computers in a network. This server is identified by a string of numbers called an IP address that computers will call up to talk to this server and pull up the information it holds. This seemingly random string of numbers can be difficult to remember so domain names were created to solve this issue.

How to get a domain name

You have two major options for obtaining a domain name: you can either go through a specialized platform such as GoDaddy domain registrar to buy domain name or you can register your domain through your website builder.

If you register a domain through Strikingly, you don’t have to worry about the technical process of connecting that domain to your website. We will worry about all the technical heavy lifting so you can focus on building your site and designing content that will fulfill your objectives.

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As an internet company with humble beginnings as the first Chinese entrepreneurial team admitted to the Y Combinator, Strikingly is all about providing a solid start for small businesses and individuals. As such, it offers free domain name registration for the first year. This gives you enough time to work on your site and let it grow without incurring additional costs while you’re starting out.

Choosing the perfect website domain

Selecting a domain name is like coming up with a name for your child - you need to think it through because you’re going to be stuck with that domain for at least a year, even longer, once your business takes off. It’s going to be difficult to change to a different one especially if you have already built your branding around that domain. Your website URL is the first thing that users will see and you want your domain to leave a positive and lasting impression on any visitor.

Domain names also affect SEO. Many businesses insert keywords in their website domain to help improve their search engine rankings. Doing this can also define a brand and give users an idea of what the site is about.

Factors to consider when choosing a website domain

1. Domain name extension

You have a variety of choices in this regard - country specific (.au, .sg, .de, .cn), organizational (.org, .edu) and even weird ones (.pizza, .space) but experts still recommend using the OG .com extension simply because it’s the most common and users are more likely to remember your site ends in this extension by default. Do a domain name search to find out if your chosen domain name with .com is already taken. If it is, go with .net or .org, the next safest bets. If you’re out of luck, we suggest going back to the drawing board and coming up with a new name.

2. The shorter the better

When it comes to domain names, it’s best to go short - 6-14 characters long is the standard. It’s easier for users to remember it and less complicated to spell. Having said that, make sure it’s not too complicated because you don’t want to risk having users misspell your website address and get routed elsewhere. It’s also better if your website domain is easy to pronounce so people can share your website via word-of-mouth.

3. Think for the long term

If you’re not willing to be tied to a domain name for a long time, it’s probably not for you. It’s going to be expensive to change domain names in the future - you’ll have to go through an entire rebranding exercise, spend money on reprinting and redesigning your website and marketing materials and let people know that you’re known by a new name. It’s a huge headache that you will want to avoid by thinking about a domain name with a long term view.

4. Make sure it’s not taken

Most importantly, make sure your chosen domain name isn’t taken yet or it doesn’t come with a very shady ownership history. To buy a domain is pretty much like buying a house. You don’t want to end up in a bad neighborhood. If your selected name is available, it would help to do a quick search to ensure it is not formerly or currently associated with anything that might clash with your brand and image. We’ve heard one too many horror stories about how their selected name was formerly used by a shady website or an adult site. Run due diligence thoroughly.

Ready to start building your brand on the web? Create your own website today.