I’m often intrigued by the number of small business owners operating fairly successful businesses, yet do so with less than stellar domain names as their web presence.
Of course, it’s possible to operate a business without a domain name and be successful. We did quite well as a society before introducing the internet, although limited in customer reach and growth.
However, operating a business with a less than stellar domain could very well cost your business future customers, and likely shutter the doors on the business itself.
I was recently reminded of this very concept as I casually strolled through the professional office location I recently moved too thanks to the help of The Paul Ott Company.
I was out to get a bit of fresh air, stretch my legs and clear my mind in an effort to spark my creative juices for the second part of the day.
As I strolled by each office complex housing a number of small businesses, I took notice of the domain name and name of an Austin-based CPA firm.
This particular CPA uses its owner’s name, Timothy Hald CPA, as the Business namesake while using a hyphenated geo service domain as its domain name: cpa-austintexas.com.
I was more intrigued by the domain name selection than the company name.
Most small business owners with less than 25 employees often name their businesses after themselves, especially if they plan on being single employee or simply a handful of employees.
Nevertheless, as I walked back to my office, the hyphenated geo service domain stayed at the forefront of my thoughts.
Although many questions filled my mind, the one question I couldn’t shake was wondering whether or not there was an available domain name that passed the radio test better than cpa-austintexas.com?
Small business owners and people in general, don’t consider the various aspects that qualify a domain to represent a brand or their company well.
I opened a web browser, and immediately begin to check and validate registration status for a multitude of geo service domains.
Of course, the most optimal domain for an Austin-based CPA, AustinCPA.com, is taken by a local firm (hat tip to them).
So, then I try the next best which is ATXCPA.com. It too was taken, yet it resolves to a GoDaddy Parking page instead of a developed website for a person or business.
Nevertheless, I encourage business owners and managers in highly competitive local or hyper-local markets to consider using a city abbreviation when the complete city name plus your service is unavailable for domain registration.
For instance, Austin, Texas can be and is often abbreviated or substituted using the the following options:
I always encourage Austin-based businesses to opt for the “ATX” option when registering domains for business should “Austin” not be available.
You still get the city abbreviated, but you also create a branded geo service domain unlike the exact match domain.
In the case of Timothy Hald CPA, I found the following domain options as better suited for his line of business:
(* denotes domain(s) were available at time of writing)
Of course, I encourage you to always register and use domains WITHOUT hyphens when possible.
But sometimes, often is the case, a local market or service can be so competitive that you must use hyphens or filler words, specifically prepending or appending adjectives.
Although I deem the options above a better domain selection to represent a Austin-based CPA firm, the following domain options could also be considered if the aforementioned were taken:
In addition, you could also register and forward surrounding city matching .com domains too. The following sampling are few greater Austin metro city options that were available:
As you can see above, you can get quite creative with all the domain combinations to shut the door on the competition owning prime virtual real estate.
Either you own it or someone owns it. Either way, someone will own them and reap the benefits, or have their business limited, if not extinguished altogether by not own such lucrative domains.
And finally, one additional thing business owners and persons in general should do is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS own their matching .com name.
Seeing the firm was named Timothy Hald CPA, I was quite surprised to find the following domains were available for registration:
Even if you choose not to develop your personal matching .com domain, you can simply redirect or forward it and variations to your business website (and vice versa).
Mr. Hald could have simply chosen to use TimHald.com as his business presence.
When I was first consulting at the turn of the century, I initially used AlvinBrown.com. Prior to consulting, I used it as a personal website. Then for a period of time, I was redirecting it to my LinkedIn profile and now to KickstartCommerce.com.
In fact, my wife and I named our kids based on the .com domain name being available (I know, a bit personal or too far for some).
Nevertheless, be certain your personal and professional brands are represented well using a domain name that passes the radio test to ensure you maximize profit and minimize liability.