Choosing a Domain Name

NOTE:  The materials on this page contain opinions.  ArcByte, Inc. does not warrant that this material is free from errors or omissions.   Furthermore, given the rapidly changing nature of the Internet, this information could become obsolete without notice or warning.  The information is solely provided to give our customers some information to consider when choosing a domain name.  We highly recommend that you consider all information available to you before making a decision.

Choosing a domain name can seem like a very simple process at first.  Once you get started and realize the importance of your domain name, you realize just how complicated the process is.

First, you need to figure out a domain name that is available.  That's a fun process of looking up domain after domain.  
*If you want to look and see if a domain is available but you don't know where to look, fill in the box on the www.arcbyte.net home page or  http://www.arcbyte.com/whois.htm  

Secondly, you need to decide what extension you are going to register for your domain (.com, .biz, .net, .whatever).  Let's take the two decisions one at a time.

The search for the perfect domain.

Well, let's start with the basic facts of how people use the Internet.  Some people find web sites by typing something into the Address bar of their website.  If they want Papa and Sons company, they will type papaandsons.com,  papaandsonscompany.com or papaandsonsco.com into the address bar.  So, it's a good idea that if you are Papa and Sons Company that you try to find a domain like one of those listed above.  

HOWEVER, many users find web sites by using search engines.  If your domain has the search term in it, you get extra points and appear higher on the list.  This means more customers.  So, if you run Papa and Sons Company and you do furniture repair, you aren't going to get the extra points on a "furniture repair" search if your domain is papaandsons.com, so maybe a better domain would be papaandsonsfurniturerepair.com.  However, please note, if you take this approach, consider just how popular that search term is.  You might be better off looking for terms that might not be as popular, but you aren't competing with 50 million other web sites on the web for the same term.

Two (or more) may be better than one

This is the part where the whole domain issue gets quite fun.  Why limit yourself to one domain name?  And before you ask, no we don't get any commission on selling domain names.  So we aren't trying to get you to buy more so we make money.  We don't see a cent. 

A short catchy domain name that is based on your company's name or products goes a long way.  However, domain names that are based on the search words people would use to find the types of products or services you offer help you tremendously in the search engines.   So, purchase a second (third or fourth) domain that has good search engine terms in them.  Those domains, other than the restricted length of 67 characters long, don't have to be short "cute catch phrase" names.  These domains won't appear on business cards and you shouldn't expect clients to remember them.  They are geared toward the key words people search on.  There are several resources out on the web that will let you see how popular search terms are in the search engines.  Some of these services are free and some cost money.

You can have all of the domains that you registered resolve into one website, or you can split them up by purpose.

For example, we have www.arcbyte.com  (our development oriented site), and www.arcbyte.net  (deals with the ISP/dial up section of our business).  Several other parts of our company's information are hosted on what is considered sub-domains.  As you can see, we host our support pages at support.arcbyte.com.  It's a sublevel domain name.  Our information for non-profits is hosted at np.arcbyte.com.  So we use a combination of multiple domains and sub-domains to split up different purposes of the site.  And yes, we use search term specific domains and product specific domain names, but to list them here would give an advantage to our competitors.

Domain Extensions

Your first reaction might be, "I'll register all the extensions"  If you are honestly talking about registering ALL extensions, that would cost a lot of money each year.  Many people don't realize that there are an overwhelming number of country code extensions out there.  There are services that will register all the possible extensions for your domain at all the different extension providers for you.  If you have a web site that you are going to have in multiple languages, then it might be a good idea to get the country extension for the language differentiation.  If you have a counter part to your site that is in German then make it separate web site and host it at <yourdomain>.de  WHY?  Because there are search engines for Germans that will only list you if you are a .de domain.  

If you really want to see all the possible extensions, a search for "domain extensions" yielded several different web sites that list them.

No, No, No, you say.  I meant the common ones.  Well, then that narrows the list down to things like:
.com (Commercial)
.net (Networks)
.org (Organizations)
.biz (Business Organizations)
.coop (Co-operatives)
.info (not categorized)
.museum (museums)
.name (Personal Use)
.int (International Organizations)

And AHH, do we even mention it here? -  The infamous .ws extension.  

Let us note, just for the record, .ws is the country extension for Samoa - but there has been a lot of "Get your domain name" e-mails going around advocating registering that hard to get domain with a .ws extension.  Few people recognize that all they are doing is registering a country specific domain extension.  So, I'm including .ws here and not under the country extensions.  I'm seeing more and more .ws sites out there, so the advertising must be working.

The first thing to say is that .com is the most popular and it is worth it to search for hours to find a .com that works for you.

After you find your .com, You might consider the following to determine what other extensions to have:

1)  Are you in a highly competitive and underhanded market where someone else will get <yourdomain>.biz and mimic your pages to try to steal your customers AND either (1) you don't have your site copyrighted and/or you don't have a trade mark registered OR (2) you have these things but realize the headache of paying an attorney to deal with it. 

2) Will it bother you that someone can have <yourdomain>.biz and be selling something not related and you can't do anything about it, attorney or not.  Someone can sell anything from umbrellas to pornographic materials and there is really nothing you can do as long as they aren't infringing on your trademark.  Picture the WORST POSSIBLE thing that someone can do with that other domain extension.  Then double the "unh" feeling to account for the unimaginable things that people do on the web.  Now, answer - Will that bother you?

3)  Picking what domains to register can also be viewed like anticipating future values of stocks.  How popular do you think the domain extension will become?  Do you think that if people hear "your company name" that at some point in the future, will people also think it might be <yourcompany>.biz?  .biz may never make it as a big domain extension, but a few years ago .net wasn't that popular either.  What is the anticipated future value of the domain?  That's a judgment call on your behalf.  


There is a lot to think about when it comes to domain names, and, WHICH domain names you purchase. 

We hope you're head isn't swimming.