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Maximizing Your Domain's Potential

So you've registered what you think is a great domain name, and now you think it's going to pay for itself a hundred times over, right? Wrong. No matter what domain name you may buy, it's not going to pay for itself on its own. Maximizing a domain name's value takes thought, creativity and effort - and it requires selecting a good name in the first place. Here are a few tips to maximizing your domain name's potential.

Going solo or using hyphens

Since virtually every word in the English language has been registered on its own as a domain name, you are going to be forced to register a combination of words (or a funny-sounding acronym). The first reaction most webmasters have is to ask, "well then, should I buy one with hyphens, to make it easier to remember?"

Simply put, the answer is no. The reason is two-fold: first, hyphens make a domain name longer. Although a domain like Bob­sin­ter­net­reso­ur­ces.­com is long, it's not as long as bobs-internet-resources.­com. Try describing that URL on the telephone: "It's Bob. hyphen. internet. hyphen." It can become very cumbersome.

The second reason is a miscon­cep­ti­on: webmasters often believe hyphenated domains will imrpove their Web site's ranking in search engines. This is simply wrong. True, there was a time when search engines looked at each word in between hyphens as a keyword. A search engine would then compare each keyword with the content of your site, match it to the query of the user performing the search, and then determine where you site should appear in its listings. Today, however, search engines are much smarter - they look at a Web site's content and little else. As a result, hyphenated domain names no longer have any influence on search engine rankings.

Consider a ccTLD

From a functional perspective, country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) work just as well as any TLD. Therefore, more webmasters are choosing country-specific domains, as better names are typically available than when choosing a domain under the .com, .org or .net extensions. If all the domains available for your site are extremely long, or for a domain name that can provide full fun­cti­ona­lity and regional branding, consider purchasing a ccTLD.

Promoting your domain to search engines

Once you have configured your domain to point to your Web site, you will need to ensure that search engines are aware of it. If they aren't, your site will receive very few visitors - even if you have managed to find a memorable, snappy domain name. With a little bit of effort and a lot of patience, however, you can garner a significant traffic base from search engines; read this article for a more detailed explanation of the subject.

Ensuring you own your domain

Just because you buy a domain name doesn't mean you own it. While official ownership is usually irrelevant to the smooth operation of most Web sites, it can be key in a legal dispute. When a service provider (usually an ISP or Web host) registers a domain on your behalf as part of some larger package (usually related to free Web hosting), they will sometimes register themselves as the official owner of the domain, although they will grant you usage of it. This means that in the event of an ownership challenge because of trademark reasons or otherwise, the decision about whether or not to relinquish ownership of the domain will ultimately reside in the hands of your service provider instead of you.

Think before you buy

In conclusion: because of their widespread availability and low price, domain names can often be an "impulse" buy. Most domains bought on a whim, however, are rarely used. As a result, consider multiple word combinations and domain types before you buy - use a naming tool if you are low on ideas. Think hard before selecting you're domain; after all, you will be stuck with it for at least a year.