Your website is located by an IP (Internet Protocol) address such as 126.96.36.199 and is accessible on the Internet by typing http://188.8.131.52. Instead of typing a series of numbers which are difficult to remember, you can register an easier to remember domain name which becomes associated with your IP address. Visitors typing an easy to remember domain name will be pointed to your IP address. Similar to a 1-800 vanity phone number, some domain names pertaining to the subject of the website, while others may simply be the name.
webmastershall.com is the primary domain name for my blog, which is instantly obvious that it is a blog concerning lawyer advertising. When you type that domain name into the address bar of your browser, the domain name servers on the Internet know that you’re looking for http://184.108.40.206 and take you there. You can have multiple domain names pointing to the same website. For instance, I also registered webmastershall.com (without hyphens) which is used for branding because people never type hyphens. Because some people may remember the name incorrectly, I also registered many other domain names such as webmastershall.com, and others, all of which will bring the visitor to webmastershall.com.
Tips to help you pick a domain name:
1) Choosing: Choosing a domain name is a lot like choosing a name for your company or law firm. Ideally, the name should be consistent with your branding. Determine whether you are branding the name of your company, product or service. Your domain name should be good for branding – short, easy to remember, and has a “ring” to it or creates an image in the mind of the consumer.
2) Trademark: Before registering your domain name, be sure to check the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to make sure that the name has not been trademarked. You can check at www.uspto.gov, click on Search under Trademarks. Assuming that your choice has not been trademarked and you have now registered a non-generic domain name, you may want to protect your name by filing a Trademark or Servicemark application.
3) Ownership: When you register a domain name, make sure that you are the registrant of your domain name. Some website design firms will register your domain name with their name as the registrant. This will give them ownership of your name keeping you hostage. You can easily register your domain name yourself for $8.95 per year at 8.95 Domains.com or GoDaddy.com and namecheap.com
4) Hyphens: There have been misunderstandings about whether to use hyphens in a domain name. First of all, the domain name you give out to the public must not have hyphens. The domain name without hyphens is the domain name that everyone will type in the address bar of their Internet browser.
The reason that some people say that you should have a domain name with hyphens is to force the search engines to see keywords in your domain name so that your website does better in search engine results. The bigger search engines can now see individual words without hyphens, however, smaller search engines may not and even the bigger ones may see a word differently than you want.
Thus, the importance of using a hyphenated domain name has diminished. If you wish to use a hyphenated domain name as I did with webmastershall.com, you should also register the unhyphenated domain name which you will forward to the hyphenated domain name. Use the unhyphenated domain name in print and advertising.
5) Extensions: Domain names are available with various extensions, such as .com, .net, .org and many other extensions. If it’s really important to you, you can register domain names in several extensions, however, for most firms only the .com extension is important. If you feel that you need to use .org, you should also register your name in the .com extension.
The .com extension is similar to 1-800 for telephone numbers. Most people automatically dial 1-800 even when they see 1-888. Likewise, most people will type
.com even when they see .net or .org. Additionally, many people including myself simply type in the domain name without http://www. or .com and press “Control, Enter”. Pressing “Control, Enter” will type http://www. and .com for you, automatically taking you to a website with .com.
6) Top Level Domain vs. Sub-Level Domains: A sub-level domain is a second level domain under a first level domain name and can look like yourfirm.freehosting.com. You must have your own domain name. Do not under any circumstances use a free hosting service, since free hosting services will only give you a sub-level domain. No one will ever remember it and it’s sort of like handwriting your own letterhead.
Your domain name should not imply that you are better than another lawyer or that you can accomplish something that may not actually occur. Use of words such as “BEST”, “TOP”, “FOREMOST, “LEADING”, “WIN” and similar words in a website domain name could create a misleading expectation in the mind of the consumer and will violate ethics rules in most states.