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What's In A Domain Name

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What You Should Know About Internet Addresses
 
People refer to... and ask of... your Website name in several ways.
 
It normally goes something like this:
"What is your Website site / home page / domain name / url / or Web address?"
 
All terms refer to the same entity...
the words that a visitor enters into a Web browser to request your Website. 
 
However, there is more to a domain name than meets our eye. 
The Herd recommends that you read and consider the following: 
 
With the Essential Website Package, your domain name will initially read 
or if you acquire a URL 
 
With the Inpedendent Packages, your domain name  will read
 
Both are Internet addresses... in today's vernacular, both are called Web addresses. Technically there's a difference, but it has no impact on surfing or functionality. The important point is that while many good names have been taken... many others remain. And, while more "same" names are coming available as new suffixes are created, as "bottom-line-thinkers"... the Herd says... "Get a name, today!" If your first choice is taken... go for a second, or third choice.  Usually, they are quite close to your desired one. There can be happiness living with Plan B!  However, after Plan A, Plan B has many considerations.
 
Let's Talk About Domains
 
A domain name consists of at least two components; 1) the chosen name which for clarity let's call the secondary domain name, located to the left of the dot; 2)  the top-level domain name  (TLD) which is located to the right of the dot; and optionally there is 3) the sub-domain name that is to the left of the secondary domain name which is used to segment functions and direct visitors to a site such as  "sales.yourname.com."  
 
By far, .COM is the most common TLD  followed by .NET and .ORG.
 
There are other less popular top-level domains, including .BIZ, .INFO, .NAME (for personal names) and .WS (for WebSite)... and soon .PRO (for professionals)
 
Top-level domains were originally designed to indicate broad classifications... and once had restrictive guidelines. However, today, excepting a few such TLDs as .GOV, .EDU (which is so fiercely protected that even Harvard can only obtain one domian name ending in .EDU), they are available to most registrants, worldwide. In the beginning, .COM was for commerce; .NET was for networks, .ORG was for organizations.  But, as the .COMs became taken, registrants opted for an alternative TLD to preserve their core names.  Further as it became apparent that .COM dominated popular interpretation and reference for Websites, .COM has been used outside of commerce by governments, schools, individuals. organizations, and others.
 
The above TLDs are primarily classifications by industry.  Top-level domains can also be geographically significant and perhaps only available to registrants in the locale defined by the TLD. These are called country-code TLDs.  For example: .US (United States), .UK (United Kingdom) .and CA (Canada).   Interestingly, there is .TV (Tuvalu) which increasing gets play, because of its similiarity to TV for television, thus motivating studios and sites that stream video to register their studio as www.theirstudio.tv
 
In all, .COM has become the industry standard. It's everyone's first try when stabbing at an address.  In this sense, the .COM is similar to the original 800 telephone number.  While there are now other toll free numbers such as 866 and 888, people still refer to an established toll free number as an 800 number.
 
So, as a future registrant, there are choices right from the start if your #1 name is taken:  1) DO YOU go with an exact name with a different TLD?  2) DO YOU modify or abbreviate your name to grab the .COM?  3) DO YOU add words to preserve the core name with a .COM?  4) DO YOU do all of the above? 
 
Here's the idea:  Yourname.com, is taken,  but yourname.us/.biz is not. Or abbreviating yourname to yn.com is available. Optionally, yournameonline.com or yourname'ssite.com is available.
 
Choices...Choices!  There are strong arguements to be made for all preferences.  Some people even argue that it makes no difference, since the visitor to your site will "bookmark" (remember the file name) the site if they are pleased with its contents and want to return. Oppositely, from the world of "branding,"  others argue that YOU should register the same domain name in some -- if not all --of the more common TLDs of in order to protect YOUR BRAND, YOUR SITE, and YOURSELF..
 
The Herd and Goose have wrestled with these decisions because clients
ask our opinion.  So, we made up some rules which we believe help
1  A .com trumps all.  If you get yourname.com, you are perceived
to be the real deal!  Bracketing a .com with a .net is affordable and wise, but
frankly, the visitor to a .net sees it as the site that didn't grab the .com.
Still, bracketing  YOUR IDentity is a small investment for a big return.
 
2.  We are obsessed with branding a name over a concept or tagline...
that is unless you are going to then brand the concept. For example: If your are Heidi's Saloon, go for the name in some fashion, rather than the
tagline or feeling, i.e., funforfemales.com.  It's not that we don't recommend your grabbing the tagline as well, it just that Heidi's Saloon will initially be the primary name.  Over time, the tagline may become more popular; however, in starting off, establishing an identity on the Web is difficult enough without attempting to create a new one as well.
 
3.  There is an alternative TLD which we favor more than most people if .COM is taken.  It is .INFO.  This TDL makes the most sense to us when a .COM is not available and YOU truly are not a network or organization.  MOST SITES ON THE INTERNET ARE INFORMATIONAL IN NATURE.  Though the majority are business, only a fraction (but a growing one at that) are actual commerce sites where one can buy something.  And the really "Good News" is that .INFO is usually available because we believe that most people don't fancy the four letters compared to the three of .COM, .NET, .ORG. 
 
4.  Considering the above, you should also consider your email address if you decide to have you@youname.com.  Now, The Herd and Goose fractured the rule of "keeping-it-short" with bullmoose@coolmooseandareclusivegoose.com. However, we did also register CMaaRG.com  so bullmoose@cmaarg.com makes for a managable address.  And we COULD shortened this even more with bull@cmaarg.com and/or info@cmaarg.com.
A "Goose Bump"...  Remember the expression that "Revenge Is Best Served Cold."  Well, cold revenge is also served-up on the Internet in the form of derogatory, third-party urls.  For example: www.yourcompany.com is registered by a disgruntled employee this way... www.yourcompanysucks.com  And yes, the courts have approved such third party registration... 9th Federal District, as usual, but still the precedent exists.  So do yourself a big favor if you have likely detractors... Consider also registering names that are the pop derogatory renditions (rots, etc) of your real url.
 
Also, in bracketing your domain name, consider common mis-spellings of your name such as grey and gray, smyth and smith, reading and redding, etc..  Fortunately, if visitors first search your site out through Google, they may be prompted with the correct spelling, if the search engine has listed your site.  Still, be prepared for a crew like The Herd 'n Goose, which just sits at the keyboard and pounds in that which it perceives to be the url..
 
At less than $10.00 a url, it's difficult to go wrong securing several names... both offensively and defensively... around your BRANDED domain name.
 
And one final note:  Shortly into the popularity of the Web, it became clear that there were cybersquatters just "sitting" on registered names in hopes of selling them for a profit, or using them to deceptively drive traffic to their sites.  This caused difficulties:  While Norman Frank Longhorn had as much right to nfl.com as the National Football League,he does not to say us Cool Moose and a Reclusive Goose... because he has nothing to do with us.  Hence ICANN, the "authority" over the Internet, established a dispute resolution process to referee such conflicts.  NOW READ CLOSELY... The above does not mean that there are not cybersquatters... or that "parking" a registered name is illegal.  It is not.  However, the names that are up for sale today are generic such as "yourpassion.com,"  "lifeafterfifty.com," etc.