What are domain names and why do they matter for small businesses?

Category: Operations Startup

Getting online is an important step for any new business. In this post we’ll explore the topic of domain names – what are they, and why are they important for small businesses?

What is a domain name?

Often referred to as a “web address” or a “URL”, a domain name is the digital place where your website lives. Domain names make it easy for your audience to find you online. Think of them as the street addresses of the Internet - a domain name is more descriptive and easy to read and remember than an IP address.

What makes up a domain name?

There are two components of a domain name:

  • the top-level domain (TLD) is everything “to the right of the dot”. These are also referred to as “domain name extensions”. Popular top-level domains include .CA, .com, .org, and .net, and many more.
  • the second-level domain is the part that comes “before the dot”. Typically, this is the name of a company, brand, product, or set of relevant keywords.

 

Why domain names matter for small businesses

There are several reasons why your businesses, no matter how big or small, new or old, should secure their own domain name and build a website.

A small investment in your digital presence can pay off

Some small businesses rely solely on platforms like Kijiji or Facebook to promote their business instead of creating their own website. The fact of the matter is that these free platforms can be limiting to your business objectives (think- your posts getting buried in the timeline), while your own website gives you the independence to reach your customers in a format that you want. As the old saying goes, “don’t build your house on rented land”.

You shouldn’t look at domain names and websites as an additional, unnecessary cost, but rather as an opportunity. Yes, domain names cost money - but they aren’t as expensive as you might think.

Recent research shows the average Canadian Internet user believes that a domain name costs $131 per year, which is far higher than the average cost of a .CA domain name, which was $14 in 2016. Bundling that with the many services like web and email hosting that Registrars offer, and you can get online in no time with a reasonably small financial commitment that will help your business gain exposure and give you a competitive edge.

Control and build your brand online

When you secure a domain name for your business, you ensure that you are owning, protecting, controlling and building your brand online. That’s because when you register a domain name, nobody else can have it; it’s uniquely yours!

So, how do you go about choosing a domain name? The most obvious choice is the actual name of your business. While most people name their business first and find a domain name later, we’re seeing more and more entrepreneurs naming their new business based off of the domain name availability. Go search to see if your business name or idea is available. If your desired domain name is already taken, try searching for variations by including relevant keywords, like your industry, location, products or services.

Give your business a credibility boost

If your business has a website on a branded domain name, it makes you appear more professional and credible in the eyes of customers. It shows that you are invested in your business and that you take it seriously. Another tip for small businesses is to create custom email addresses on your branded domain (e.g. yourname@businesslink.ca). It’s a signal to Internet users that you are legitimate and can be trusted.

Connect with your audience

If your business is trying to connect and engage with Canadians, you must be online. Hosting your website on a well-chosen domain name can help you get discovered by potential customers.

By including your brand name and other relevant keywords in your domain name, you’re making it easier for people to find you in a search. And since the .CA domain signifies your organization is Canadian, your .CA domain name will have a better chance of performing better in search engines in Canada.

Domain names are one of the most valuable assets a business can own. Not only will it give more credibility, but it will help you build your brand and connect with your audience online.

Are you ready to register your domain name? Choose your .CA domain name today and brand your business as uniquely Canadian!

About the Author

Jason Faber is the Product Marketing Manager for the .CA domain at CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. In his role, Jason is responsible for developing and implementing comprehensive marketing plans and strategies to promote and strengthen the .CA brand. With deep experience in marketing, technology and digital strategy, Jason strives to engage and educate consumers to ensure that they get the most out of their .CA domain and overall web presence.