You’re starting a business. You want customers. You’re going to have a website and you want people to see your site. What will you be called? Trading in the online era allows you to reach a greater marketplace than ever, but potential customers need to either know you or be able find you. It all starts with a name.
What’s in a name?
You’ve probably already spent many sleepless nights agonising over the name of your new enterprise. You found the perfect combination of words to convey the spirit of your business, but does it tell people what you actually do?
Good website names fall into two categories:
- short and memorable
- long and descriptive
The first category is great for word of mouth. You can tell someone the name of your business and it’ll stick around in their head. Next time they need a collectible garden gnome, they’ll come straight to you at Gnome Zone.
If you’ve got a longer, but more descriptive name you’ll find it does a lot better when people are searching for a business online that matches your name. Your potential customer goes to Google and types “buy armadillos online” (a popular search, I’m sure). The first result is the one that most closely matches their search, so your business “Buy Armadillos Online” gets their click.
Google your new name before you do anything else. What else appears when you search for your specific business name? All of these links are in vying for the very short attention span of your potential customer. If there is another business that does the same thing and has the same name (or one similar enough to be confusing), I’d advise against that name. During this search it’s well worth looking a few pages into the search results. If someone has recently set up a new site with the name you’re proposing, they may not yet be on the first page, but by the time you’ve launched your site you could have more serious competition.
URLs are important. If your business name is in your URL, you’ll rank higher when people search for your business (also, who wants a URL that doesn’t have their name in it?!). I launched my events ticketing website Ticketlab 4 years ago now. When I bought up the domain ticketlab.co.uk, the .com address wasn’t available, but wasn’t actually in use. 2 years later, a site appeared on the .com, confusing my search results. If you wish to “own” the name, and you think it’s a name that someone might want to use later, try and buy up the .com, the .co.uk, and any others you can afford that seem relevant. There are so many domain extensions available now, you’ll never be able to own them all, but you might be able to dissuade a future rival from the name by marking your territory.
Is your business name available on social media? Setting up these profiles and linking them back to your website will give you better search rankings. Additionally, adding your business to Google’s business listings will give rich information and reviews on search results pages.
Naming your business is one of the hardest decisions you’ll probably have to make when you start a new enterprise. All of these tips may seem like constraints on the creative process, but if you keep them in mind you’ll ensure that people can actually find you online when you’re ready to start trading.