Domain Name Best Practices

Domain names have been around for quite a long time and with the low cost in registering domain names, their usage has exploded over the years. Purchasing a domain name is a simple process and delivers improved exposure to your website, but here are some best practices to consider when registering a domain name:

  1. Keep the domain name simple: The domain name doesn’t have to contain every single word of the company or service.  This also applies to directory names.  I’ve encountered organizations that had every word of a service area in the directory name. For example, the service area name was Building Strong Communities and the directory name was building-strong-communities.  Add that on to the main domain name, and you have an long URL.
  2. Purchase other TLD’s: If you want to purchase yourcompany.com, it is advisable to also purchase yourcompany.net, yourcompany.org, etc. (where possible).  This will help protect your organization’s online identity.  I remember years ago when I was in college, one of the instructors mentioned to us how whitehouse.gov was the official White House website, while whitehouse.com was an adult website.  Fortunately, whitehouse.com has since be changed into a political-centered website.  Imagine if someone went to yourcompany.net and it was a website that had material that could tarnish your organization’s image.
  3. Maintain domain names for two years after they are needed: If you purchase a domain name for an event or the need for the domain name is non-existent, it is advisable to continue ownership of the domain name for two years past the need.  Keep a static page at the domain name advising visitor’s that this domain name is no longer in use and will be retired in two years.  The reasoning is similar to point 2.  If you let your domain expire right after you no longer need it, it may be purchased by a company hoping to capitalize on your organization’s reputation.  If inappropriate material is posted on the new website, it may reflect badly on your organization, being that it was so recently owned and used by your organization.
  4. Purchase Misspelled Variations: If your domain name is a commonly misspelled word, purchased those misspelled variations.  This could increase the direct traffic to your website.
  5. Have a single department manage the domain names: This isn’t as important in smaller organizations, but in larger organizations like universities and colleges, this is critical.  When various areas are purchasing domain names when they deem it necessary, there is no one body to accept accountability and to ensure these (or similar) best practices are followed.
  6. Use the same domain name registrar:When possible, use the same domain name registrar.  This makes managing the multiple domain names easier.  There are some cases where this wouldn’t work out.  For example you want to register the .info TLD but your registrar doesn’t handle those, then in that case you would need to find a registrar that did.  Maybe consider switching to a registrar that supports a variety of TLDs.
  7. Use a domain name policy: If you are in a large organization, consider drafting a policy that outlined the best practices that you would like to follow and ensure that it is publicized.  There is not point in coming up with best practices and then sitting on them.  Many large organizations already have some domain name policy in place.  See if you can find a public version of a policy from another organization and using it as a springboard to start your own.

These are just a few of the observations that I’ve made over the years.  Try Googling for ‘domain name best practices’ to see what others may say.

If you have other best practices that your organization has implemented, please share them.  Thanks.

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