Got a great question over at the ZynnyMe Facebook page. We LOVE getting questions, and often provide responses (for free) directly on our Facebook page. However, this question felt like it warranted more than 500 characters!
Lisa from Facebook asks:
"How important is a domain name? I know I need to get going on a website but can't settle on a domain name. I hear it's important to get a site going though as Google will bury it for months in the sandbox. I am just starting a private practice and wasn't necessarily going to have a business name other than myself. What about naming it after yourself? Can you change a domain name if I change my mind?"
So many great questions included in this! Let's break this down.
How important is a domain name?
A domain name is important, but not important. A domain name can work against you when it doesn't include keywords, is difficult to spell, hard to remember, or difficult to type. However, ultimately, you can have a great website that shows up on Google without it getting "buried for months."
I have had websites showing up on first page of Google on Day 2 after launch. Of course, there was no competition in their area. ZynnyMe a great example of a website with an odd domain name that nobody would ever type in, is showing up nationally for our keywords on the first page of Google. We aren't on the first result yet, but we will be!
Using your name can be great for branding yourself... unless... there are a ton of other people with your same name, or you want to get to the top of Google faster. I have found that including keywords in your domain name can help you get to the top of Google faster. Like my counseling practice website http://counselingmodesto.comMy business name is still my name- I don't have an official DBA (Doing Business As), and I don't need one to choose a domain name.
However, at the end of the day, if you don't have great content- Google still won't put you at the top of Google. And, if you are at the top of Google but you don't have great content that gets people calling you- it won't matter!
(Here is where we include another shameless plug for our Website in 30 days program- we really do walk you through EVERY step of building, writing, and launching your website for our your helping business! Although this is geared towards therapists, helpers, and healers- we have a couple of interior designers that are going through the program!)
So, yes your domain matters, but no it doesn't... In other words, your domain only matters if it sucks!
Funny story... probably shouldn't share it but I will... My professional organization has been offering free listings for counselors and therapists as part of their professional membership. www.therapistfinder.com The profile listing allowed pictures, descriptions and was completely searchable and FREE for me! CAMFT (which is fantastic by the way) was always very excited about the amount of traffic it received each year from the web. There are millions of hits- and the service as only for California. This should result in phone calls and clients for the therapists who were listed right? Wrong!
There was one small problem... well, I think it was a big problem... the name... In fact, this name was listed as one of the Top 10 worst domain names on the web. I'm pretty convinced that the Top 10 ranking is actually what kept the website getting so many hits. Has it clicked yet?
www.the rapist finder.com Yep... that is one bummer of a name. The fabulous people at CAMFT have gotten some good feedback and relaunched as www.counselingcalifornia.com Two fabulous, easy(ish) to spell keywords that have no negative connotations.
So, what are you thinking about for your domain name? Have you down your market research? Are you trying to learn how to build a website and market a business all on your own? Get good advice- don't get stuck doing nothing... or lose time and momentum by not getting good advice from the start!