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Build Your Own Online Store, Part 3

Buy a custom domain name to build trust among buyers.

When Shelly Coby was ready to take her doggy boutique online, she bought a domain name through GoDaddy.

For the owner of PupRwear, buying a domain so her store’s URL would be PupRwear.com made sense. She knew it would make her store more memorable, help her stand out and build trust among shoppers, especially when she contacts buyers via email.

“I get emails trying to get me to open links, and I always check the first part of the link to see where it is going to take me,” Coby explains. “I never open anything that doesn’t look safe.”

The owner of PupRwear says shoppers may have the same reaction, so having her own domain, and an email address at PupRwear.com, may help them feel at ease.

“I think it helps if they see the company name first rather than a bunch of garbled letters and numbers”

“I think it helps if they see the company name first rather than a bunch of garbled letters and numbers,” she continues.

As you build your own online store, you too, should consider purchasing a domain to help build your brand and foster trust among buyers. For this part of the Build Your Online Store series, we’ll look at the benefits of buying a custom domain and the process.

A prime piece of real estate

“The domain name is more than just an address on the Web,” says Rich Merdinger, vice president of Domains at GoDaddy.com. “It’s really a representation of your online brand, and domain name ownership is essential to grow and manage an online presence. It provides a piece of what we call ’21st century real estate.'”

He says a custom domain allows sellers to give shoppers a location for their stores that’s under the merchant’s control, that is reliable, and that customers can find again and again.

“It really helps establish the legitimacy of the business and builds customer trust,” he continues. In fact, he says a retailer’s online credibility goes “through the roof” when people have a custom domain.

“The domain name is more than just an address on the Web. It’s really a representation of your online brand”

Make your store memorable, build trust

Chris Eckland, the product manager of shopping cart software Auctiva Commerce, also says having a custom domain makes it easier for buyers to remember and return to your shop.

“In many cases, your buyers will be clicking on a link in an email or from a website [to get to your store], but sometimes they’ll go straight to the browser bar,” he adds. “In those cases, you want them to be able to easily remember your domain name, so they can quickly get to your site and start shopping!”

He says custom domains also let shoppers know the owner of the store is committed to the shop—and that it won’t be here today, gone tomorrow.

“That’s not to say that you can’t be successful without a custom domain, but, overall, I think the benefits outweigh the costs, especially if you’re looking to build a long-term business,” Eckland notes.

Do you have a domain in mind?

You have several options when you’re ready to buy a custom domain. GoDaddy.com is the world’s largest domain registrar, but you can purchase domains from Google, Register.com, eNom and many others.

Before you go to these sites, though, you should have a domain name in mind. You want this to be the name of your business, or something close to it. Now, if you haven’t given your business an official name, start thinking. As you brainstorm, try to make your business name:

  • Easy to remember
  • Short
  • Relevant to what you offer. For instance if you sell cookware, choose a name that has to do with cooking or baking, not a name that might make shoppers think of another niche.
“That’s not to say that you can’t be successful without a custom domain, but, overall, I think the benefits outweigh the costs, especially if you’re looking to build a long-term business”

You want your name to give potential customers an inkling of what you offer before they step into your virtual shop. For more helpful hints, read this Auctiva EDU article.

Registering your domain

To purchase a domain name from GoDaddy, you start by entering the name you’d like in a search field on the site’s home page.

The site will quickly return results. It will show you if the name is available and provide you with other, similar domains you may want to purchase as well—for instance the .org, .com, net and .co versions of the domain you entered.

You may also want to look for—and buy—common misspellings of your domain to make your store even easier to find.

If the domain you want is not available, you can backorder it, Merdinger tells us. That means GoDaddy will keep a watchful eye out for the requested domain name, and when it becomes available, it will try to snatch it up and offer it to you later.

Or you can purchase one of the similar names GoDaddy gives you. Prices for domains vary, depending on what you want. For instance, the .com versions are usually the most expensive. On GoDaddy, they run you about $9.99. However, .info domains cost about $2.99. And if you buy multiple domains at once, GoDaddy will give you a discount.

Should you buy more than one domain?

Now, let’s talk a little more about those similar domain names—the .net, .com. and .co versions. When you’re buying your domain, you should consider purchasing multiple, Merdinger and Eckland agree.

Owning the .com, .net and .co versions will protect you from copycat sites that may come along once your business takes off, Eckland says. And it could prevent you from having to pay more for a similar domain later if you decide in the future that you want to buy the .net version of your domain but find that someone else already owns it.

There are other benefits, too. Having different extensions of the same name can help you branch out the operations of your store. For instance, if you decide to participate in charitable endeavors later on, you could use the .org version of your name to house the causes you’re a part of, Merdinger says.

“By having multiple [extensions] that tie back into the same storefront, you also can enhance some of your back links and search engine optimization”

Multiple versions of a domain name are also good for search engine optimization, he continues.

“By having multiple [extensions] that tie back into the same storefront, you also can enhance some of your back links and search engine optimization,” Merdinger adds.

Also, if sellers are targeting English-speaking customers, they may want to get top-level domains for the United States as well as other English-speaking countries, he continues.

“If you’re a multinational company, and you’re looking to do business targeted toward different countries, with different languages, you’d look at where you’re targeting your business and add as many of those [extensions] as appropriate,” he continues.

He says merchants should purchase the .com, org., info and .co versions of their domains, though they have to weigh the costs and benefits themselves.

The benefits of GoDaddy

Since we had Merdinger on the phone, we asked him why he thinks so many people use GoDaddy when they’re ready to purchase a domain name.

“GoDaddy really offers outstanding value at a very reasonable price,” he reports. Customers have access to 24/7 customer support, and that customer support comes in the form of people, not automated responses.

Merchants should purchase the .com, org., info and .co versions of their domains, though they have to weigh the costs and benefits themselves

“We have, literally, thousands of people who are dedicated to taking phone calls,” he adds.

Eckland has purchased domains from GoDaddy, eNom and Google, and has never had trouble with any of those companies, he says. However, he suggests people buy from well-known and established registrants to head off any problems.

Once you register your domain, you can link it to your Web store to make your store memorable, professional and to foster trust among shoppers.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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