Are you a small business owner with questions about getting online? In this article, we dig into online presence management, as well as cover some helpful tips so you can get the most out of a domain name.
Here are four common questions about building an online presence and domain name registration.
1. What are the different ways to use a domain name?
Many people associate domain names (.com) with website addresses, but there are other ways to make the most out of a domain name.
- Forward your domain name to your social media or marketplace account. If you don’t have a website yet, you can register a domain name for your business and set up forwarding rules with your domain name provider so that when customers type your domain name into a browser, it points them directly to your social media account. This makes it easier for prospects and customers to find you online. It also looks more professional to have a custom domain name rather than a long social media URL as your web address.
- Set up a custom email address. A custom (also known as branded) email address [@pearlybrightsmiles.com] can be a quick and easy way to help develop credibility, create a professional image and market your business.
For instance, let’s say you’re in the market for a new dentist and you’re researching options online. You come across two different dental offices–both look good at first glance–but which would you want to contact if you had to choose between these two email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com? Chances are, you’d prefer the first one because it appears more legitimate.
Once you’ve set up your custom email address, you can typically create multiple addresses for different segments of your business, such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. These types of addresses help create a more customized experience for potential clients and customers.
- Use a domain name to link to all your online presences. Today, most businesses have multiple online presences, such as social media accounts, customer review listings, blogs and more. Link services, more commonly known as "link-in-bio" services, make it easy to centralize all the online places most important to you and your customers on one webpage that can be easily accessed with a domain name.
2. Is domain name registration complicated?
Registering a domain name is easy and only takes a few steps:
Step 1: The first step is to choose the domain extension, such as .com. Also referred to as a top-level domain (TLD), a domain extension may influence how your audience perceives you or your business. For example, many businesses choose .com and .net because these are well-known extensions, while many nonprofits and charitable organizations choose .org because it’s short for “organization.”
Step 2: Next, search for a domain name that works to best describe your business. While choosing your exact business name to use as your domain name may be an option, it doesn’t have to be the same. Some businesses add keywords to be more memorable or descriptive for potential customers. Another popular option is to use geographic keywords for local businesses. Here are a few examples:
Step 3: Once you’ve found available domain names you like, you’ll need to choose a domain name registrar to help you purchase it. If you don’t already have a domain name registrar in mind, you can choose one by searching online or getting a recommendation from other business owners you trust. The process for registering a domain name may vary depending on the registrar, but generally, you’ll communicate the following:
- Your desired domain name
- The number of years you want to register the domain name for (typically 1-10 years)
- Your contact information
- Payment information
- Optional services (custom email, website building, hosting)
Once it’s registered, you can start using your domain name immediately for your website, to point to an existing online presence, or to create a business email address.
3. Is a social media presence enough when getting online?
Social media is an important tool small businesses can use to connect with customers and market themselves online, but it doesn’t provide the same customizable experience that a website with a domain name can deliver.
Many businesses start their online journey with a “social first” approach to selling products and services. While this can be a lower-cost way to test the waters for your business before investing in a website, forwarding your .com domain name to your social media page can help boost awareness of your business by creating a personalized and memorable web address to help prospects and customers find your business online. It also locks your desired domain name in place, so when you’re ready to build a website, your domain name of choice is ready to go.
4. Do I need technical skills to build a website?
Good news: You don’t need to be a “techie” to build your own website. There are a variety of website builder tools available today that make creating a website easy. A simple search for “website builders” in your browser will return numerous options to choose from. Internet hosting companies may also offer website tools or premium plans that include building your website for you. However, before you build your website, be sure to answer these questions:
- What are the goals of your website?
- Who is the audience you are trying to reach?
- What core functionality or features does it need to have, such as e-commerce?
- What pages will you include on your website? Some examples include an “About” page so you can tell your company story, product pages for all the different types of things you sell, and a page of customer testimonials.
- How often will your website be updated and who will do it?
Answering these questions can help you decide what will be included on your site and how you plan to maintain and promote it, as well as which website building tool or service to use.
Get Started with Your Online Presence
Online presence management may be faster, easier and more beneficial than you thought. It’s an important step in taking your business to the next level. Whether you’re trying to connect with existing customers or build new customer or partner relationships, now’s the perfect time to get a domain name.
Verisign is the registry operator of the .com top-level domain. Trusted by global companies, savvy startups, and local merchants, a .com domain name can help businesses of all sizes connect with customers and partners.
Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association, SCORE.org
Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.