Getting down to business with the right domain name

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Whether you’re looking at starting a new online business, or perhaps taking your existing traditional business online, starting with the right domain name can be critical to your brand and your online success.

Over the past 25 years I have created many businesses, out of these were 3 traditional businesses as well as a multitude of online business ventures, and while they say many businesses fail in the first 18 months, I actually find this often can come down to either the choice in the wrong business name or not planning your online marketing strategy well.

These days it is essential for any business, including those that are planning on remaining purely a bricks and mortar business, to ensure they consider the online marketing aspects.
Even if you’re not directly selling products online, you need some web presence, otherwise you won’t be found on Google, Google Local Business Listings, Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc, etc.

Over 85% of Smartfish’ new business comes directly from organic search engine results. We spend very little on any actual paid marketing because very little marketing or advertising can beat good organic rankings.
Why spend money when you can get better results for free, right?

But there is more to your organic rankings that just good search engine optimisation. You have to also look at the greater factors that make up a successful business when starting out.

Choosing the right Business Name

The name of your business is critical. You want something that has a meaning, but you also want it to be sharp, snappy and memorable.
A single word business name usually always works best. Lets take a look at the largest businesses in the world…Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, Virgin, NIKE… All single word business names.
They names weren’t accidental, they were chosen, had meaning, but are also names that roll off the tongue.

Never add a ‘THE’ to the start of your domain name.

NEVER choose a domain name with more than two words if possible, and never start with ‘THE’.

Adding a ‘The’ in front of your business name is not a good idea, unless you have a two word business name which is short and punchy, such as ‘The Hive’.
The ‘The’ word also has zero value on the search engines, so if you are planning on selling online services you would be better to ensure your domain name is available so that adding a ‘the in front of it is a last desperate attempt to get the business name you like. Facebook actually used to be ‘The’, but everyone was searching for just ‘Facebook’, so they purchased ‘’, and guess what – visitor traffic went through the roof!

Keep it short and memorable

The other reason you want a nice short name is also that it obviously fits on business cards much easier, and as a Graphic Designer that deals with this dilemma on a regular occurrence, it is hard to create a nice balanced design when your business name is as long as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name!

And if you plan on having a social media presence, the shorter name will fit into the maximum letter count much easier. There is nothing worse than having to drop letters from your social account simply because you forgot to consider this when choosing your domain name.

Also having a short name can often mean your business model can be very flexible as well. For example, Smartfish started as primarily graphic design, then we moved into web design, then social media, then search engine optimisation, now printing, and soon some even bigger plans. (’s a secret!).  If we had called ourselves The Smartfish Design Co, or it would be much harder to transition from just design towards other additional business services.

Look at Apple, they were once Apple Computers, but obviously people don’t perceive a phone, a music service, app store or wireless headphones as a computer, so they dropped the ‘computers’ from their name many years ago before they took the new direction.

And you never want to use a regional word in your name, unless you plan on being a regional service only. Say if you were called Sunshine Coast Design, but moved to the city, it sort of doesn’t work.

Ensuring your name will be flexible enough to adjust over time is very important.

Give the name a meaning

I often get asked what Smartfish means. I chose Smartfish pretty much for one reason. I wanted to be the smart fish that didn’t swim with the rest of the school. In design, I don’t like to follow trends, rules, or be like everyone else. I like to offer clients something unique. Even my Search Engine Optimisation techniques are very different to others. I created my own method to rank on the top of the search engines, which I now integrate into every website I create. Going against the usual flow and thinking outside of the square is my point of difference.

How many times have you wondered what ‘Google’s business name means?
Actually, before it was Google it was known as ‘BackRub’, but changed to Google, which was actually a misspelling of ‘googol’, which is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros.
Almost every business name has a meaning and an origin.

Windsor Smith is another great name…They designed shoes that were good enough for the likes of Royalty (The Windsors), but affordable enough for commoners (The Smiths), so they named the business Windsor Smiths.

Find your point of difference or a name which resonates with you.

Check your domain and social media names are available

The internet is a big place, and there is a big chance someone might already own your domain name, so go to first and see if it is available, and if it is buy it! It only costs around $25 for two years, so good to capture it while waiting your business registration to be completed. Also start reserving your social media channel names to ensure you have them ready to go.

If you keep these factors in mind you’ll find often you’ll get your business up and running much faster than you imagined, and onto the fast lane for success!

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