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Choosing a Domain Name

When you are starting a business, it may be prudent to do so with the Internet in mind,even if the business is not intended to be web-based. The World Wide Web can serve asthe best advertising medium for your products or services and has the potential to reachmore consumers than any other medium. If your business is entirely web-based, itspresence, and therefore its name, on the Internet are of the utmost importance. Thefollowing guidelines can help you to choose a business name with an Internet presence inmind.

  • Businesses on the web have the potential to reach consumers not just in yourneighborhood, but all over the world, so you will need to compare business namesin a much greater geographic area to avoid the potential for confusion andtrademark infringement.

  • When you come up with a few ideas for business names, consider what yourdomain name—that part of your Internet address that follows "www"—could be.The closer it is to the actual name of your business, products, or services, themore likely your customers will find you.

  • Although using your actual business name or some variation thereof will attractexisting customers or potential customers who have already heard about yourbusiness, using a product or service descriptor, like window-washing.com, maymore effectively attract new or potential customers.

  • Domain names must be registered using an accredited registration service, whichcan itself be found on-line using the Internet.

  • Domain names cannot be issued to more than one person or business, so ifsomeone else has already registered your idea, you will have to come up with anew one.

  • If possible, consider registering both your business name and a product- orservice-type designation to attract as many people as possible to the site.

  • Consider possible mistakes that potential customers could make when typing inyour web address. If mistakes are likely, consider simplifying the name, orperhaps registering multiple names so that even if a common mistake is made, theuser will get to your site.

  • Although domain names are available with a variety of suffixes—the letters thatfollow the period after your chosen name—the one that most people are used tousing is ".com," so it may be best to use those letters, rather than an alternativelike ".net," to attract as many visitors as possible.

  • The ".com" suffix can be used for commercial and personal sites; ".net" isrecommended for companies involved in Internet infrastructure; and ".org" isrecommended for non-profit companies.
    • For all of those suffixes, only letters, numbers, and hyphens can be part ofthe domain name, but the name cannot begin or end with a hyphen.

    • Using any of those three suffixes, the name is limited to sixty-threecharacters not including the suffix, but some web browsers, e-mailprograms, and other applications may not support anything over twenty-sixcharacters in length, so it may be best to keep the name short.
  • Domain names should follow the same general rules as business names in general.See Dos and Don'ts: Business Names.
Next Steps
Contact a qualified business attorney to help you
address you business's operational needs.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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