Choosing a domain name for your website is one of the more difficult chores you have when starting up and there are a lot of important considerations. The entire process is complicated by the fact that many good domain names have already been taken. This post will help you through the things you want to consider.
If you make a mistake and later decide to use a different domain its not the end of the world. You can keep the old domain and use redirects to send everything to the new domain. By the time you get to the point where fixing your domain name is that important, your practice will be humming along nicely and paying someone to setup redirects will be relatively cheap.
One of the first things you need to consider is that keywords in the domain name weigh very heavily in search engine rankings. That may or may not be an important issue to you. Its nice to get free traffic because you rank well in the search engines, but you can always pay to bring visitors to your website. Typical keywords that you might want to put in your domain name are your practice area, the word “attorney” or “lawyer”, an your geographical area, such as “Los Angeles”
On the other hand, generic terms such as a practice area, a region, and a generic professional title, don’t create very strong branding. Also, shorter domain names will be easier to use as part of email address than longer ones. Depending on the rules in your state, you might even be able to use a fictitious business name – such as “Pacific Premier Law Group”.1 Then for a domain name you might use “pacificpremierlaw.com”. A better choice might be “pplgattorneys.com”.2 Its shorter and contains a related keyword. At the time of this writing, that name was still available.
Since many hosting companies will let you have an unlimited number of domains for the hosting price, and since the cost of a domain name is cheap. You could mix both strategies. Assuming the example above in which the site name is tied to the branding, “orangecountycivilandbankruptcylitigation.com” might be a good name for a secondary site.3
If you did take the approach of using several domains, take some time to thing about what each could be used for. The first names are good for a branded website that contains the basic details of the firm – location, office hours, attorney bio’s etc. The second keyword rich name might be good for a blog. The additional keywords in the blog titles would help get better search engine rankings for each post and an authors bio linking to the primary site could be placed at the end of each post.
When you want to test your ideas, you can go to Name Bargain or Domains in Seconds to see if your name is available. If the name is available on one, but the price is high, you might want to try on the other site. I believe that I have seen companies list perfectly available domains at a very high price – for example $1400.00 on one site as opposed to the typical $12 – $15 on another site. Sometimes this happens because someone owns the domain name and is trying to sell it, but other times the vendor just puts a high price on good names hoping to make a quick profit.
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1. This is a real world example of one of my friends websites.
2. This domain was still available at the time of this writing.
3. This domain was also still available at the time of this writing.