It’s important to do some planning before registering any domain names for your accounting firm. This short guide is meant to help you avoid making some common mistakes firms often make when registering a domain name.
Checking available domain names and registering them is very easy, there are a lot of trusted websites that you can use such as: http://www.godaddy.com, http://enom.com, and http://www.hostgator.com.
Always register your own domain name
Never, ever, ever let any agency, web development company, marketing company, SEO company or any other business, organization, individual, or any other entity, being or spirt register your domain names. It may see trivial, but whoever controls this registration ultimately controls the domain. If you ever have a falling out with your current company or decide to go with another company not being in ultimate control of your domain can cause issues.
There are lots of domain registration sites that allow you to search for available domains and register them for a nominal fee.
As an agency we come across this problem every once in a while, It usually happens like this: You’re a small firm and you decide it’s time to get a website, you call up a development company and they ask you what domain name you want, you give them a name, they tell you that domain has already been registered and they offer a bunch of similar, but slightly different, alternatives. If www.smithandjohnson.com is taken, instead you decide to go with www.smithandjohnsoncpa.com or worse yet www.smithandjohnsondallas.com and to make things easy for you and to make sure nobody else purchases the domain they are just going to go ahead and purchase if for you. STOP, this is a bad idea, if you ever decide to part ways with this company you want to be in control of your url. It’s easy to find out what domains are available and purchase one at any of the above mentioned sites.
Should you purchase an SSL?
If you have any type of user login or shopping cart purchasing an SSL certificate is absolute necessity, but I would absolutely recommend purchasing one it for any url you own that hosts a website. For a small fee each year you can encrypt all of the data passed to and from users on your website; including login forms, contact forms, and shopping cart data.
What is an SSL?
When you purchase an ssl and apply it to your domain you are basically creating another access route to your website, and any data transferred via this route is encrypted before transferring. So think of it this way, you own the domain http://www.example.com, which boils down to nothing more than a folder on a server somewhere in the cloud and when a user visits your website, http://www.example.com, they are given access to this folder and it’s files, are loaded. When you purchase an ssl certificate you open up another access route to that same folder (an https route), and when people visit your site via this route (https://www.example.com) all of the data transferred back and fourth between the user and the server is encrypted before being passed.
You should be able to purchase an SSL certificate through your hosting provider and once purchased and implemented you will need to force your website load the https version of your site and may have to make other code changes or widget implementation force all page assets to load their https version.
Find a domain name that fits, but isn’t limiting. or Don’t use geographic limiting keywords in your domain name
If you plan on growing your firm in the future, even if you are not sure what that ultimately looks like, you want to be sure to plan for it when you register any domain names for your firm, especially if that domain name will be used as your primary domain.
In the past web development agencies and SEO companies would use every tool available in order to boost SEO Performance and deliver results and sometimes that included registering a domain name that included limiting keywords such as city names, state names or abbreviations.
As an example: if http://www.smithandjohnson.com was already registered a company may decided to register http://www.smithandjohnsontx.com or something even more limiting like http://www.smithandjohnsondallas.com or even worse http://www.smithandjohnson-dallas.com those keywords in the url may seem like a good SEO tactic but when it’s time to grow they can be very limiting. And if your development company or SEO company is recommending purchasing a domain name with a limiting key word it, it may be time to find a new company.
Don’t use any hyphens or ampersands or other non alpha-numeric characters
A lot of short domain names have already been purchased so it can be tempting to add a non alpha-numeric character to your url to find one that is available choosing http://www.smith-johnson.com over http://www.smithjohnsonassociates.com may not seem like a big deal, but I guarantee after you say “smith dash johnson .com, that’s smith with a dash and johnson.com” for the 500th time you will realize what a mistake it was choosing http://www.smith-johnson.com over http://smithjohnsonassociates.com
Register any similar domains or product name domains.
Registering similar domain names is a good idea for a few reasons
- It’s cheap, you can register most domains for between $5.00 and 12.00 per year and you can choose to renew or drop them every year.
- You don’t want to lose prospective clients looking for your business. With the googlazation of the web, users today have an unprecedented amount of information at their finger tips and may look at the first few results of a google search. If your url is http://www.philipandassociates.com you should also purchase http://www.phillipandassociates.com and other common spelling versions of the words in your url. Redirect users that visit a common misspelling of your name. so any visitors to those other domains are automatically redirected. You don’t want one of your competitors purchasing those domains and redirecting traffic meant for your site to their company website.
- Purchase common misspellings of domains for your top competitor’s urls and redirect them to your domain.
- Purchase domain names for specialized products. If you offer specialized products to a key niche market you should consider purchasing the domain names for those product names. In the beginning, you only need to redirect those urls to your product pages, but as your business grows you can use those domains to expand your product marketing.