UPDATE: This get a domain name post was originally published on GoDaddy's Australia blog on 23 November 2020 and republished with updates to the Canada blog on 27 April 2021.
A big part of growing a business is a strong online identity — and getting a domain name is the first step. After all, your domain name will serve as your website address.
These days, if an internet user (i.e. potential customer) needs something, the first thing they do is search for an answer to their problem online.
But with millions of competitors all flogging their services on the internet, how do you find those who actually need your products or services?
The key is to get a domain name that will rank on search engines.
If you own a local business, your target market is people in your nearby area. To improve your chances of being listed in search results when they search for your products or services, it’s a great idea to get a domain name that includes local references.
In this article, we’ll explain why localising domain names will bring in more customers and build your online presence.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the address that people type in the browser URL when they want to visit your website.
TimHortons.ca is an example of a domain name.
There are two elements to this:
- Typically, your brand or organisation’s name is on one side of the dot
- The domain extension is what’s on the other side of the dot
The five most common domain extensions are:
Each of these serve a certain purpose. For example, .org is widely used by non-profit organisations, while .net is favored by internet service providers (ISP) and others who offer digital services.
How domains work
Domain names work by acting as a shortcut to your website. Without a domain name, users would have to type in your IP address, which is a series of long-winded numbers to find your website.
With domain names, the problem of remembering easily forgettable numbers is solved.
Why you need the .ca extension
For small businesses that serve a Canadian audience, it’s a good idea to get a domain name that helps build your presence in Canada. The first step is to register your business with an official country-code extension such as .ca.
This lets customers know that you’re located in Canada.
It will also build trust, as this is widely recognised as Canada’s official domain extension.
Who can register .ca domain names?
To get a domain name with the .ca domain extension, you need to meet certain criteria.
According to CIRA, to be eligible to register a .ca domain name, registrants must be classified as one of the following:
- Canadian citizen
- Permanent resident
Apart from giving searchers more confidence that they’re dealing with a local business, having the .ca extension on the end of your web address will help your ranking on Google, too.
The extension helps Google understand where your business is located, enabling it to match searches by locals with Canadian products and services.
How to localise your domain name even further
According to Social Media Today, 97% of users go online to find a local business. When you localise your business' domain name, you reach the 97% who are looking in your area.
How often do you search for “[product or service] near me”? All the time right?
To establish your brand locally, get a domain name that includes the area you service. Some fictitious examples would be:
By adding the specific service area to your domain name, you let customers know they can get to you with ease.
City-specific domain extensions
But that’s not the only way to let people know where you’re located. For businesses in Quebec, having a .quebec domain extension makes your domain name specific to the market in this area.
By localising your domain like this, you make it easier for Google to show Quebeckers that your business is local to them. That’s a great opportunity to target users in your area, especially if your business operates in various regions.
It will also benefit any future ads you will be running on Google. With your domains localised, you can run precise local online ads that direct users to your business.
Get a domain name that works for you
Domain names are much more than just a technical shortcut. A strategic domain name can be what establishes your business’ online presence, especially in your local market.
Get a domain name that’s easily remembered (and spelled); it will benefit your small business and accelerate its growth.
That's why you need to carefully think about a domain name that will represent your business long-term.
With GoDaddy, you can find recommendations for website names for your small business using their domain name generator. So take your time to choose the right domain name, one you’ll be proud of for years to come.