“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,

Retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title.”

Over 400 years later, let’s pose the same question: What’s in a name? In 2015 cyberspace, this question has a completely different answer. It’s your brand, your identity, and how customers or potential customers find you. If you take it one step further, it’s your domain name that is the address to your website and your welcome mat to the world. The wrong domain name can have your company lost in an iCloud. The right name can have clients seeing what you have to offer and can mean the difference between online success or failure.

With so much importance placed on your website domain, where do you even start? Back in the infancy of the Internet, domain names were quite expensive. In fact, in recent history some names still sold for mind blowing amounts; in 2012, investing.com sold for $2.5 million while the current record was set in 2010 when sex.com sold for $13 million. Fortunately, today’s average can range from approximately $8-$10 per year for a .com domain name from GoDaddy or one of the hundreds of other competitive domain name registrars. You may want to choose certain extensions such as .tv and .vs and even those are a bargain at $20 to $40 for a year’s registration.

So where do you start? First of all, there are already over 280 million domain names registered, so find out if the one you want is already taken. Martin Zilling, contributor to Forbes Magazine, suggests that, “With today’s pervasive Internet searching and shopping, the domain name may well be more important than your company name. As a startup, cost to rename your company and change existing collateral may be less than dealing with unmatched names or premium domain pricing.”

You may also want to get a tad creative by trying various endings such as .us or .net or .biz. While you may want to add dashes, abbreviations or imaginative spellings to fashion a unique domain name, you just might become too obscure and difficult to remember.

Next, if someone else owns your perfect domain name, you may want to consider finding the current owner using Domain Tools, Who Is or a similar site to find the owner and offer to buy it. However, it might be in your best interest to contact an internet or business attorney for these negotiations. You don’t want to overpay and a professional’s eye for contract negotiations could save you a lot of grief later on.

Still stressed out about your domain name? Don’t be. Michael Reynolds of Spinweb advices, “Don’t be afraid to pay good money for a good domain. There is a lot of value in the right domain for your company, so think of it as an investment… At the same time, don’t obsess over the right domain. Don’t waste too much sleep or time obsessing over the perfect domain. Just make sure it’s as close to your brand as possible.”

About the author

Christina Morales

Christina helps provide useful business and legal tips on UpCounsel for our customers and visitors. Having over a decade of writing experience in a variety of industries, she has also been very close to the legal space from a young age with family members who continue to practice business and tax law.

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