In the search economy, where potential customers make snap decisions based on fleeting digital cues, your online reputation is as important as it’s ever been. Your choice of a custom domain name and email address can make the difference between a sleek, professional image and one that’s shady or fly-by-night. The truth is, domain reputation does carry weight.
First impressions tend to last
Let’s talk about email, since that’s often one of the first contacts you ever have with a client. Freemail companies such as Yahoo, Gmail and Outlook provide email addresses with their own domain, making it difficult to get an email address that’s professional-looking. The best names are usually snapped up fast.
Most freemail users have to settle for long combinations of numbers and letters like firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails like this don’t inspire confidence in clients.
It just stands to reason: when prospective customers are asking questions about your services, they’ll feel more comfortable if the response comes from a reputable-sounding email that has a custom domain name and address as its underlying foundation. This is standard practice among legitimate businesses and clients expect it.
Domain extensions — .com, .net and now .tax
The first decision to make in regards to your domain name is which extension you’ll use. Generally speaking, .com is considered preferable, if for no other reason than its global recognition. It’s often the first domain extension that new business owners explore when seeking a domain name.
Take for example, one of these:
All are viable domain names and all are available as of this writing. Each one conveys a solid and respectable business image. So consider exploring a web address that captures the industry you work in and differentiating yourself from all the .com accountants out there.
Another bonus: including a keyword in your website domain name has a positive impact on search engine optimization (SEO). Anything that improves SEO is good.
Naming your business
In an ideal world, you’d choose your business name at the same time as your business domain name. Of course, this isn’t that world and too many business people pick their business names without ever checking to see if the matching domain name is available.
When they find that the domain name they want is already registered to someone else, they still have options but they can be expensive.
If you’re still in the naming stages, here are some criteria to consider when brainstorming business names along with domain names:
Make it descriptive
Ask yourself what you’re selling, and often you can find your answer to the name question right away. You shouldn’t expect potential customers to interpret or sleuth out the nature of your business.
Shorter is better
The fewer characters in your name, the easier it is to type, say, write and share on social and through other media. Make it as short as possible but at the same time adhering to criteria No. 1.
Think about the long game
Make sure that your domain name has legs … in other words, do you anticipate possibly extending into other services or product lines down the road? If so, that could affect your choice. For example if you think you might someday do more than tax accounting, .services might be preferable to .tax.
Can the name be trademarked?
Domain names are an asset that can appreciate over time and be sold with other assets of a successful business. Americans can check the U.S. Patent and Trademark database to choose a business name that’s unclaimed.
This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it certainly will make life easier down the road if your name doesn’t infringe upon another business owner’s name or usage.
Find more information and advice about finding that perfect business name and online identity to support your business and domain reputation here.
It’s a search world
But let’s return to the notion that search is paramount in today’s business world. The first thing prospective clients will do when looking for your services is go online. And that discovery takes place not just on Google, Yahoo Search and Bing, but also across the top social media platforms. For this reason, it’s also important to secure proper and consistent social handles along with your business name and domain name.
Try to be consistent across your domain name, Facebook business page and Twitter and Instagram handles. This will lessen any confusion among customers. Over time, your business reputation will benefit.
Consider the alternative: imagine that you’ve finished a presentation to a group of viable customers who are ready and primed to use your bookkeeping or tax preparation services. An audience member asks, “Where can we find out more?” And you say, “Well, I’m @TomQTax on Twitter, @TTaxGuy on Instagram, TaxPrepByTom on Facebook and my website is TomTax.com.”
Who will ever remember all that? So do your business a favor: seek out the right combination of descriptive but available names that align into a cohesive whole.
Domain reputation actually does matter
Whether you aim to attract new clients or keep existing ones, common sense is the rule of thumb here. To be viewed as a legitimate business, you have to present yourself in a professional light. A custom domain name with matching email and social handles all contribute to a reputable digital identity. Once those are nailed down, find out what comes next here.