One of the first things I recommend when you're marketing a business is that you register a branded domain name. Your domain name can be used for lots of things besides just a website. Of course, having a great website is ideal, but that takes some time to create. In the meantime, there are lots of ways you can use your domain name.
Put Your Domain to Work
- You can have email at your domain name. A branded domain name email address legitimizes your business and lets people know that you’re real and trustworthy. We discussed this in last week's Bits, if you read it. If not, go get caught up!
- You can point your domain name anywhere you want. If you don't have a website yet, but you do have a Facebook page or an Instagram account that you use to represent your business online, you can redirect your domain name to one of your accounts. When you do finally have a website, you won't need to reprint your business cards and other branded materials. You can just redirect your domain name again to your new website.
- You can set up a shopping site with your domain name. Some sites will actually let you put up a shop or a mini website on their directory that can be completely branded to your business. You can use the plain yourbusinessname.com if you don't have your own website, or you can use shop.yourbusinessname.com to make it look like part of your existing digital presence.
- You can use a domain name as a vanity URL. A vanity URL is short, memorable URL used to represent a longer, more complicated URL. A vanity URL is especially helpful if you are running a print campaign. You can use a branded domain name to point to a very long URL on your site. Instead of using yourbusinessname.com/member_program/easysaver.html (which is too long and wouldn’t look very good on a postcard or a direct mailer …it doesn't even look good here), you can get a vanity URL, such as easysaver.com, that you can redirect to your very long URL. This costs about $15 a year but is worth the expense to have an easy-to-use URL for your print materials.
- Don't think you can trick Google, though. It’s very important to remember that when you use one domain name to point to a website on a different domain name, the pointer domain name will not be indexed in Google. For example, if you have a domain name, such as bestpies.com, but your actual website is at maryscherrypie.com, Google will not list bestpies.com in its search results, even if you redirect it to maryscherrypie.com. Google will only list search results of the domain name that actually has content on the page. My point is that having a vanity URL is not helpful for search. It is only useful for people to reference visually and verbally.
In the Meantime…
I want to emphasize that I highly recommend that every small business have its own website, even if it’s just something very simple and basic - because of what you can do with it behind the scenes, but more on that later. However, even without an actual website, there are still plenty of ways to use your domain name to promote your business and streamline your business operations.
It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.