You’ve decided to take the plunge and launch your own personal website. Good for you! Launching a web site is a bit like having a baby—although hopefully it won’t take you quite nine months to get it done. But, much like giving birth, you’ll probably want to choose a name before you get to the delivery stage. So here’s our 10-point checklist for creating the URL (domain name) that personifies your brand.
- Think branding first. When someone hears your URL for the first time, they should be able to instantly and precisely know who you are and what you do, particularly if you specialize in a certain type of property, such as foreclosures or land sales. Think of domain names like Bankrate.com, or WebMD.com. Everyone knows exactly what they do at first glance. We’ll help you figure out the right combination to get to that ideal name with the information that follows.
- Brainstorm your keywords. The object of having a web site is to get found by people who are looking for a Realtor. Spend some time brainstorming the kinds of words that will move you to the top of the search engine lists. Make a list of half a dozen words that could become part of your URL. Your city name and the types of properties you sell are examples of keywords you could include.
- Say who you are. You should tell prospective clients exactly who you are as well as what you do. Within reason, your URL should combine your name (first or last, but not both) with your specialty. If your last name is Schwarzenegger, go with Arnold. If your name is Miranda Jones, use Miranda. It should be as specific as possible. “Debbiesellsportland.com” is vastly better than debbiesellshomes.com.
- Short is good, memorable is better. You don’t want to be the Realtor with the fantastic website that no one can tell their friends about because they can’t remember the name. The URL you choose should be easy to remember. That doesn’t necessarily mean coming up with the shortest possible name. If foreclosures are your specialty, then that belongs in your URL. If you sell lake properties, then debbieswaterfronthomes.com is a bit lengthy but OK.
- Avoid trickiness. Remember that people are often verbalizing rather than writing your domain name when they refer you to their friends. Steer clear of strange spellings for common words. Use right, not rite (unless you work for RiteAid). Choose sells, not sellz, flipper rather than flippr. Make sure your name reads exactly like it sounds if you expect people to find you.
- Reject numbers and symbols. Your URL should not only be easy to remember, it should be easy to type. Stick with all letters, all lower case. Don’t use numbers, hyphens, or underlines. Symbols such as # or * are not permitted at all. If you want to brag about being the number one Realtor in your firm, that’s great. But spell it out: jimisnumberone.com.
- Create a winning combination. You’ve got some keywords and of course you know who you are and what you do. You also know what to avoid. Now play around with various word combinations until you come up with several possibilities that might work. Refine your list to your top three favorites and then start testing them on family, friends, and co-workers.
- Search the Internet. When you’ve narrowed your list down to two or three, type the name into your search engine and see what comes up. I use myhosting.com Domain Search; I have over a 100 domain names purchased and set aside for future projects. You may also want to go to copyright.gov and do a quick search to see if you’ve stumbled upon a copyrighted name before you finalize your choice.
- Use .com names only. Unless you’re a charity or a college, (.org or .edu), people will automatically assume that your website has a .com ending. If the exact name you want is not available with .com, it’s better to come up with a different name than to go with .net or .biz. Your goal is to drive traffic to your site. If people have to search too hard to find you, they will simply give up.
- Register and own it. Once you’ve finalized your URL (domain name) you will want to register it (own it). You may already have a hosting company, but if not you’ll want to choose one and register the URL. I recommend Web Hosting by myhosting.com – $4.84/month only (affiliate link). If you have more than one similar URLs you’re thinking about, it’s best to buy them all in order to keep others from infringing on your brand. Even though we recommend not using .net or .biz, you might want to pay the extra fee to keep them off the market.
Make sure to promote your new site with a blast to your client email list, and include your web site address on your brochures, business cards and other communications. Since 85% of all buyers and sellers are using the Internet, a good web site and URL will make sure you get noticed and when you get noticed, you get business.
— Richard M. Hartian (@WinningAgent) September 4, 2012
Once you get your new URL, or if you already have one, leave it below so we can take a look.