<This is part 3 in my series on Social Media Community Building. You will find all of my pieces on this subject by checking out this tag: Social Media 101. Disclosure: this post is about selecting and buying domain names. I work for a company that owns the largest aftermarket domain name listing service in the world, Namemedia, although that is not what I do for them. >
One of the key points you need to consider when you are building your Social Media Community is the domain name. The right name can make your site, while the wrong one brings with it more baggage than you could possibly imagine. The general list of considerations:
- The shorter the better – If I were building a community for septic tank cleaning professionals, I’d look for something like “septicpros.com” rather than “septic-pro-media-forums.com” – on the face of it, less letters to type.
- Make the name a Search Keyword that you’d expect someone to enter into Google to find you. Hence “Blatz.com” wouldn’t be as desirable as “tennisbuddies.com” when you’re doing a Tennis social media site. Plus, the domain name is one of the things Google gives you points for in their alrogithm. Hence, given identical content and in bound links, TennisBuddy.com will do better than the nonsensical blatz.com.
- Try to Avoid the Alternate Top Level Domains – .Com is the gold standard here. .Net is acceptable, and .Mobi is fine for your Iphone stuff. I don’t use .us, or any of the other alternates. Why? Because they don’t get direct type in traffic, and its really easy to build your site up, only to have someone sharp that owns the .Com TLD siphon off your traffic by constructing a similar site. How do they get your traffic? Most of your users will inevitably type .Com instead of .FooBar or whatever you have at some point. Too big a business risk in my estimation.
- Avoid Misspelling Problems – If it’s hard to type, you’re going to have people ending up at the wrong place. Once again, keep it simple.
Have people found success doing the opposite of my suggestions? Sure, probably the best example was http://del.icio.us – but even they have now given in, having bought delicious.com and directing their primary traffic through that domain instead.
Okay, so your next thought is this: “Nice advice, but all the good domain names were bought up years ago. We’re gonna have to go with http://xtrptser.com because it’s the only one left.”
Not so…there is the domain aftermarket. My employer, Namemedia Inc. owns over 900,000 domain names, which can be bought via BuyDomains.com or at Afternic.com – which is a “Multiple Listing Service for Domain Names.” Together with our partners, we list something in the area of 2 million domain names (don’t quote me directly on that, it’s a rough estimate, not exact). They’ve also got plenty of trained domain professionals who can help you through the purchase and transfer process.
So now you can get access to a whole lot of excellent domain names, which should make your new Social Media Website a winner.
My view on domains is this: they are a very important business asset for any business. In the case of niche social media sites, they may be one of your most important assets. Thus buying the right one is of utter importance. There are many places in the building of your site where you will be able to cut a few corners, but this is not a place to do that.