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What's In A Name?

Strategies for obtaining the best online presence for you and your small business

by Roland Laplante
Contributed by Afilias USA, Inc.



One of the hardest things about the vastness of the Internet is making your Web site memorable. With millions of Web sites out there, not only do you have get someone to your Web site, but you have to keep them coming back.

There is no guarantee that your visitor will add your site to their favorites bar, or jot down your Web site on a pad they keep next to their computer. The best thing to do is to make sure that your Web site address sticks in the visitor's mind. This starts with your choice of two things: your domain name and the top-level domain that it is registered in.

Your domain name is the name that you choose as your Web address. But the top-level domain is what comes after the last "dot" in your domain name and also typically signifies the kind of site you have.

What kind of site are you?

Those looking to get on the Web should first think about the kind of site that they want to be. Most Internet surfers are familiar with .COM, .NET and .ORG extensions but there are also many new Internet extensions that provide Web goers with more options today to pick a site name that will more uniquely fit their needs. For instance individuals or organization wishing to promote information about themselves might choose a .INFO, while new businesses might choose .BIZ, or those wanting to get a personal e-mail address might get a .NAME.

Various vendors offer alternative extensions that are not approved and accessible through all Web browsers. Be sure to get a name that ALL browsers can get to - .COM, .NET, .ORG, .INFO, .BIZ, .NAME, .AERO, .COOP, .MUSEUM, .PRO, or a country code name. For an authoritative list of top-level domains go to www.iana.org or www.icann.org.

Companies, organizations and individuals have adopted many of these new domains because the name they can get is either shorter and more intuitive, or because the top-level domain they choose speaks directly to their Web site's purpose. For example, LowerManhattan.info is being heavily promoted as a place for New York-area residents and others to find information on the new proposals for the World Trade Center site. Also, those in the tourism industry have adopted .INFO sites (e.g.: Cancun.info and Spain.info) to provide information about their destination for visiting tourists.

Whatever top-level domain you choose, your next step in getting an online presence will be to register your name.

Registering a domain name

Registering a domain name is fairly simple. You can register at Internet retailers called "registrars." There are approximately 150 registrars worldwide that have pricing models and service offerings that differ widely. The average cost is approximately US$35 per year per domain name, but the range is generally from US$8 up to US$50 per year.

You can find a registrar by visiting the Web site of Internet manager the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which lists the registrars able to register your domain name in each extension, or by directly visiting the site of the registry of the Internet extension you are looking for (e.g. Afilias for .INFO).

In addition, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) (e.g.: Earthlink) or e-mail provider (e.g.: Yahoo) may also offer you the ability to register a domain name. Typically these organizations are known as "resellers" and work with the ICANN-accredited registrars to get you the name that you want.

How to choose service providers

Choosing what registrar, ISP or hosting provider you go to depends on the level of service you are looking for. Registrars, ISP's and hosting companies often provide overlapping services, so check with your current provider to see what they offer. If you are relatively unsure of yourself, a total package may fit your needs well. You may even find a total package at one of these companies that will integrate your site design, hosting, e-mail and domain name purchase into a low monthly fee. Sophisticated buyers can safely shop for the best components, and then put the overall package together themselves because they already know how it should fit together.

The best advice is to shop around. Determine exactly what your needs are for your site and then look for the best price. Remember you can always start small and increase the amount of services you need.

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Roland LaPlante is the Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Afilias, the registry for the new .INFO TLD. Information on registering a .INFO domain name is available at www.afilias.info.

Copyright © 2003 Aflias USA, Inc.

 
 
 


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