Web Development optimize

Quick tips for web design: Assigning domain names

Ryan Boudreaux addresses the issue of domain name selection and naming strategies for your websites.

These tips have a central focus on assigning domain names for your web sites -- their selection, sub-domains, top-level domains, and coming up with a domain name strategy for your organization.

Sub-domain WWW: As a general rule the www sub-domain should still be included as a part of your domain name list. Many sites are getting away from this, but it remains that most people are still used to seeing the www at the start of a website address, so make sure your website operates with and without this sub-domain. Going mobile: As more and more web applications are being built around mobile platforms and devices it makes sense to reserve an m. sub-domain (e.g., m.domainname.com). This sub-domain naming convention is becoming more common, and it is a less expensive approach when compared to the .mobi top-level domain. Instead of paying for a new domain name, such as, www.domainname.mobi, for example, one solution could add a new directory under the root /htdocs folder named m as in /htdocs/m and upload the files for mobile access that would be seen at the web address of http://m.domainname.com. Top-level domain (TLD) selection: Before you go out and decide on a brand name for yours or the client's web site go ahead and check to see which TLD's are available first. The most popular and generally recognized TLD selections are the .coms, the .nets, and the .orgs. Most other TLD's are country, region, or more specific and tend to be less recognized by the general public. Unless you want to target a specific local audience, then it may benefit your website to purchase a country code top level domain from your own country. A domain name such as www.domainname.it would be a great way to grab visitors in Italy. A dash here: Or a hyphen there? As a rule of thumb you want to avoid adding dashes or hyphens to your domain names, as the general consensus seems to be there is no real advantage with search engine ranking. URLs without hyphens do take on a more professional appearance, however, and hyphens are typically okay in certain specific uses, but when you start stringing them together with more than two or three words or phrases it can take on a cumbersome look and feel. Hyphenated domain names can work with targeted key word campaigns and search engine spiders, and if that is the purpose of the sight or domain then the hyphens can be a benefit. However, if you're marketing campaign is to create a brand, a remembered domain name, and you want it to stay on the top of customer awareness, then a hyphen-less domain name works best. Domain name hacks: The term hack is used in the context of a naming trick, and domain hacks are an unconventional way of combining top level domains to spell out a name or title for an organizations domain. Several examples of domain name hacks include goo.gl (Google), blo.gs (blogs), del.icio.us (delicious), and who.is. And one of the shortest possible domain hacks today is the one launched by National Public Radio (NPR) using the county code TLD (ccTLD) of Puerto Rico and is listed under the domain name hack n.pr, which redirects to their home page. ccTLD - Speaking of domain name hacks, some countries require that you or your organization reside in the country of origin, and these restrictions could be subject to forfeiting of the ccTLD as a violation of registration agreements. Check with the restrictions and regulations from the country of origin before taking on a ccTLD. Domain name auctions: While it can be quite an expensive affair to purchase an existing domain name, it might just prove a worthwhile venture if the name fits with your organization. Domain name auctions can be a great place to buy or sell a domain that has already been established with a proven record for attracting business.

What problems have you run into with domain names? Add your own comments or suggestions below.

About

Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal g...

3 comments
beandget
beandget

great article, my web host offers unlimited addon hosting. my question is how Google looks at addon domain? are addon domains going to effect the way Google index my main domain. thank you

richrollins
richrollins

That's interesting, how long have DotMobi domain names have been available for registration by the public? - Novo Negocio

Vance Hedderel, Director of PR, dotMobi
Vance Hedderel, Director of PR, dotMobi

Something the author seems to be overlooking in this piece is that domains serve multiple uses beyond being a branding identifier. For example, when you use an "m." naming convention rather than a .mobi domain for a mobile site, site owners miss the benefits of network-level transcoder whitelisting. Designing great mobile sites takes time and effort to get the most out of the limited screen resolution and navigation mechanisms of mobile phones. Having invested money and time in creating a mobile presence, you don't want a third-party transcoder modifying your site ... but this is exactly what happens when you use a non-standard name for your mobile website. As a rule, .mobi sites are automatically whitelisted by all network-level transcoders, so you can be sure your site will render as you intended on all mobile devices. SEO benefits are also significant with .mobi because .mobi domains offer better search engine performance and the ".m" naming style. In North America alone, search engine marketing this year is forecast to grow to $25 billion -- a number that shows search engine performance has become crucial to the success of any business. Because every .mobi domain registered gets its own entry in the Internet Zone File -- the files that search engines use to start their crawls -- your site will automatically perform better than any other naming convention. Additionally, search engines detect when searches are being made from mobile devices and prioritize their results accordingly. Because .mobi sites are high quality and made for mobile, they are automatically brought to the top of the mobile search results. An "m." offers no similar positives for site owners. The .mobi domain also has additional benefits that you can read about at http://dotmobi.mobi/resource/top-5-reasons-why-you-need-a-mobi-name.