domain name choice:
getting it right
3.16 CHOOSING YOUR PERSONAL DOMAIN NAME
In earlier sections we have looked at instances where the company owner's name is part of the domain name, indeed, there will be times when the owner's name is the name of the firm - particularly in the case of consultants. For those occasions all the rules of choosing a domain for businesses apply, but in this section I want to concentrate on domain names for personal use - that is non-commercial - be it for a website or email. Whilst some might feel this whole subject is too narcissistic to consider, I would argue the opposite. If nothing else, it is recognising the way the Internet has, and will continue to, influence the society in which we live. For the really sceptical, perhaps you should consider the concept simply to stop someone else registering your name as a domain name and putting un-flattering content on it.
So why register your name as a domain name? Well, the main issue is that you can control the content of any website that is hosted on it. That might be anything from your life history, through a full CV/résumé to just your email address. Naturally, if you are private person this is still not going to be high on your list of life's priorities. But if you have any web presence at all - be it on facebook, your employer's website, myspace, youtube or friends reunited - then why not have something about you where you have total control of the content? I would even go further and suggest your own website will become an essential part of our lives in years to come - in much the same way as people now cannot do without a contact phone number (mobile or fixed-line). Indeed, what better email address than @yourownname? Could it even be the case sometime in the future that our credit ratings might be higher because of the credibility factor of having our own website on our own domain name? Think I'm exaggerating - or even being paranoid? Do you think that employers (or their agents) looking to recruit a new member of staff don't already put the names of applicants into Google? Or businessmen and women don't check up on individuals before arranged meetings? Well, they do - and how impressive do you think an appropriate website on that name coming up top of the SERP is? It is certainly better than those pictures of you on a drunken night out which are on your friend's facebook site (note that I have been telling students this for years, I hope some listened). It strays from the point slightly as the emphasis is on the service provider not you, but I know of managers of top-end hotels who have staff search on customers' names before they arrive at the hotel. The concept is that they might learn something about the individual or family that will help staff make their stay better.
For many, if not the majority, the advice included in this section is some years too late - for all combinations of common names have long-since been registered (particularly on the .com suffix) usually because they are the names of businesses somewhere in the world. And I cannot really explain why, but .com is the suffix to have for your personal domain name. Certainly in the UK, having a .co.uk suggests you are a legal entity of some kind - as would be the case in other countries that use 'commercial' suffixes. This perception also includes the .eu and .asia domains. Similarly, a .org suggests 'organization'. However, your personal domain is perhaps one where some of the 'novelty' suffixes can work - .cc perhaps. Don't forget also .net and .info - the latter particularly if you are putting together a web page that will appeal to prospective employers.
So what to do if the combination of your given and family names have already been registered on the .com? Well, if you have tried the appropriate suffixes try them again with a hyphen between the two names. Common for those entering the acting fraternity is to differentiate yourself from others with a similar name (it is an actors' union requirement) by including the initial of any middle names. Be prepared, however, to use this initial all of the time if the domain name that includes it is to be any use. Taking this notion to an extreme, you could always invent a middle initial to differentiate your domain from others. In this regard I am always reminded of the movie North by Northwest, where Cary Grant's character Roger O Thornhill comments that the 'O' in his name stands for 'nothing', and intimates that as an advertising executive he needs to stand out from the norm. It would certainly have helped me get a .com domain if when I started out on my publishing career I had called myself Alan O Charlesworth - though in this case it sounds a bit Celtic (ie O'Charlesworth), so perhaps an 'H' from my mum's maiden name would have been better (Hmmm, Alan H Charlesworth actually has a ring to it).
I am, of course, being somewhat light hearted here, but where your name might become your brand name these things are worth consideration. For example, a neighbour of mine trades under his own name, but as it is the same as a famous film star he really struggles with his search engine rankings. For those of you who agree that the future might see us all have our own domain name, could it be that domain name availability might become part of the baby name choosing process, with a middle name added if the .com has already gone? Don't scoff too much at this suggestion, the baby's name as a domain name is already a popular christening present - and who wouldn't want their child to grow up to be famous? If that is the case, how pleased will your offspring be if they already own theirname.com?
DOMAIN NAMES IN PRACTICE :
tel everyone your contact details
A novel new domain is one that does not allow advertising on its web pages, making it unattractive to domainers and cybersquatters.
The .tel domain name does not allow pay-per-click advertising because it will not host websites. The domain's web pages contain only contact information which will be sent to phones and computers that look up the domain. The restricted page content is uploaded via the registrar rather than by file transfer protocol (FTP). Is it worth having? Well, it costs very little, so ROI is not really an issue. I think it is good for individuals (for private or commercial purposes), but then their website should contain the same information. The key to its success - or otherwise - will be how highly they list on the search engines.
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