This article is part of a larger series on Small Business Websites.
A business domain name is the website name found in your web address or URL (e.g., fitsmallbusiness.com). Customers can locate your website and identify your brand through its business domain name, and it can be used to create professional email addresses for your company. Similar to how people find a physical business by its street address, think of it as your company’s online business address.
Why You Need a Business Domain Name
Your domain name is the easiest way for someone to find your business online. Anyone searching for your business can just type your business domain name into the search or address bar, and your business website URL appears among the search engine page results (SERPs).
Alternatively, they can type the full URL (e.g., fitsmallbusiness.com) into the browser bar to go straight to your website. Every domain name is also unique, allowing you to maintain brand ownership. When used for a website, the domain name is part of the URL.
Components of a URL
A URL, or web address, is the internet version of a mailing address. Just like a mailing address has a structure (e.g., name, street address or PO Box), and location (city, state, ZIP), a URL also has different parts that serve different purposes. Here are the components you will see in every web address: prefix (or protocol), domain name, and domain extension.
- Prefix: This is the foundation of the internet. It is used to load and connect to the website of your choice and indicates a protocol—for example, “https://” shows the site uses SSL security to encrypt data, making it safer for website visitors.
- Domain, or domain name: This identifies which website or brand a site visitor is currently visiting (e.g., fitsmallbusiness).
- Domain extension: This is usually chosen based on the entity type of the business or organization (e.g., .com for commercial businesses, .org for nonprofits, .store for retail sellers, .me for personal sites, and so on).
Types of Domain Names
On top of the components of a web address, there are also different types of domains. For example, there are “top-level domains” (TLDs) like .com, .org, and .net, and “second-level domains,” like .club, .info, and .store. The domain name hierarchy is based on the type of domain extension used (e.g., a TLD like .com or .net vs a second-level domain like .club).
When choosing a domain name for a business website, keep in mind that top-level domains are considered the gold standard. Not only do they appear more professional and credible, but they also tend to get preference from search engines, in turn helping your site rank higher in Google.
How To Choose a Domain Name for a Business
Your domain name can affect your brand’s success online, including your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) keyword rankings, traffic, and marketing efforts. As such, several factors should be taken into account when formulating a business domain name. Furthermore, it’s possible that your first ideas will already be taken and it may take some trial and error to find an available domain name that best represents your brand.
Here are five tips for coming up with the best domain name for your business:
- Keep it short and recognizable: The domain name for a business should be easily identifiable by prospects and customers. Ideally, your domain name will be short and simple, while still unique enough to be memorable.
- Tie it to your brand: Using your brand name as your domain name is the easiest way to ensure it’s unique. By doing so, you separate yourself from the competition while adding professional credibility to your business and website. The domain name also helps to build your brand, as it’s directly associated with your business.
- Try alternatives with your location or keywords: It’s common to find that a desired domain name is already registered, or even in use. With so much competition, be sure you have a backup plan. For example, using your location in your business domain name can both indicate your service area and further delineate your brand from the rest. Likewise, keywords representational of your services (e.g., plumber, electrician, legal, real estate, and so on) can help you get a close match to your first pick.
- Consider impact on SEO: Search engines use domain names in coming up with their search rankings. Keywords are used to increase the accuracy and relevancy of the search results. If your domain name includes a keyword related to the services your business offers, it could help your site rank higher on Google.
- Reduce spam through private domain registration: When registering a domain, you are required to provide your contact information. Without private domain registration, this immediately puts your information out onto the web where anyone can use it to send you unwanted spam.
Still struggling to find an available domain name that suits your business? Read our guide to learn how to choose a domain name in five easy steps. If you already have a name in mind, see if it’s available using the search tool below.
Where To Get a Domain Name & How Much It Costs
You can purchase a domain name through a top registrar like Google Domains for about $12 to $15 per year. But if you plan to build a website with it, getting a business domain with a web hosting service or a site builder might be free.
For example, Bluehost and IONOS both include domains free with hosting plans, as does all-in-one site builder Squarespace, along with others on our list of the best website builders for small businesses. Plus, the best web hosting companies and all-in-one site builders provide free private domain registration to keep your contact information away from spammers.
Top Ways To Get a Business Domain Name at a Glance
$12 per year
$14 per month
$2.95 per month with annual contract
$1 per month with annual contract
All-in-one hosting and SEO-friendly site builder, domain management tools
Web hosting, WordPress website builder, free email addresses, domain lock
Web hosting, site builder, free email address, private domain registration
Email Address Included?
Email support, forums, FAQ, dedicated chat support
FAQ, dedicated call support
FAQ, dedicated call support
FAQ, call support, success consultant, 24/7 chat, and email
Once you have settled on the domain name of your choice together with the web host, the next step is to register your domain. For the step-by-step process, check out the steps for how to register a domain name in our guide.
Pro tip: Don’t make the rookie mistake of buying a domain before getting web hosting. Most hosting plans and all-in-one website builders include a free domain name for the first year. On top of that, it saves you the headache of manually connecting your domain and web hosting.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the difference between a domain & a subdomain?
A domain name is the name of your website. Subdomains act as an extension of your main website domain name, such as the word “support” in the example www.support.business.com. They are often used to house specific types of information, such as support resources for customers, blogs, forums, and so on.
While it can be tempting to use a free subdomain, those building a business website should always use their own domain to appear professional and credible. Read our guide to learn what a subdomain is and how to use it.
What’s the difference between a domain name & web hosting?
The domain name is the web address or URL where your website resides, and the name people use to find and locate your website on the internet. On the other hand, web hosting is a service that allows your website to be live on the internet. Usually, web hosting services include the selection and registration of the domain name, and many plans include a domain name free the first year.
What are top-level domains?
Top-level domains, or TLDs, are the suffixes found in the last part of a domain name, for example, the .com part of the URL https://fitsmallbusiness.com. Usually, the TLD indicates the nature of the business entity so it can be easily identified (e.g., .com for commercial businesses, .org for nonprofits, and .store for retail sellers). They can also indicate an industry (such as .io for tech companies) or country, for example, .fr, .it, .no, .uk, representing the European countries of France, Italy, Norway, and the United Kingdom, respectively.
Every business website should have a custom domain name to establish and grow its online presence. In addition to providing a URL for the business’ website, they are also used for professional email addresses, creating instant credibility, especially with top-level domains such as .com, .net, and .org.
You Might Also Like…
- Learn how to set up business email using your custom domain name.
- After getting a domain for your business, learn how to easily build your small business website.
- Thinking about the benefits of getting hosting and a beginner-friendly website builder in one? See how easy it is to build a website using Squarespace.