A good domain name is a key part of your online marketing strategy. Also called a URL, a domain name is the Internet address a customer uses to visit your website. An example of a domain name is canadabusiness.ca. You can register your domain name directly through an Internet Service Provider or through a domain registration company.
How do I choose a domain name?
It's important to choose a domain name that captures the essence of your business and is unique enough that your customers won't confuse it with another website.
A good domain name is:
- Easy to remember
- Easy to spell
- Related to your business or product
It's important to make sure that the name you choose isn't protected by a trademark belonging to someone else, or too similar to the name of another business. If it is, you risk intellectual property infringement. You'll also want to pay attention to what a customer might see in your domain name. Do the letters form any unintentional words?
Is your business name easy to misspell? Consider registering domains with alternate spellings and typos to avoid losing traffic and to fully protect your brand.
How do I choose a domain extension?
The domain name extension (for example .ca or .com) follows your domain name. You may want to register your domain name with a variety of extensions. That way, no matter which of those extensions your customers type, they will always be redirected to your main site.
There are two main kinds of domain extensions: generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).
Generic top level domains (gTLDs) are generally available to everyone, regardless of country of origin or geographic location. A few of the core gTLDs (.com, .net, .org, .int) were originally intended for very specific use, but now have much fewer restrictions when it comes to registration. Over the years, hundreds of new gTLDs have been introduced, and the demand for more continues. It's always best to research the restrictions for the extensions you are interested in before attempting to register them. Examples of gTLD extensions:
- .com (short for “commercial”) — the most widely-known extension on the Internet, originally intended for commercial organizations but then opened up for unrestricted registration
- .info (short for “information”) — originally intended for informative Internet resources
- .biz (short for “business”) — intended for use by businesses
- .jobs — used by HR departments to list and promote employment opportunities
- .net (short for “network”) — primarily used by organizations involved in networking technologies
- .org (short for “organization”) — originally intended for non-profit entities, but now commonly used by schools, open-source projects, and communities, as well as by for-profit entities
- .mobi (short for “mobile”) — used for mobile-compatible websites (customized browsing on mobile devices)
- .travel — reserved for use by organizations operating in the travel industry
Country code top level domains (ccTLDs) are extensions that correspond to the name of a country. The Canadian ccTLD is “.ca” (short for “Canada”), and is reserved for use by Canadian businesses, citizens, permanent residents, and organizations.
How do I register a domain name?
Domain names can be registered through private registrars, who offer a range of services and prices. It's a good idea to visit different registrars' sites and ask questions to ensure you find the right mix of price and service for your business.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers publishes a list of certified registrars for gTLDs such as .com and .net.
- Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
Consult a list of accredited and accreditation-qualified registrars who can register generic top level domains.
If you meet Canadian presence requirements you can register .ca domain names through any of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority's certified registrars.
- Canadian Internet Registration Authority
Find out how to register for a dot-ca domain name.
What if the domain name I want is being used by someone else?
If you've searched for the domain name you want, and it is already taken, you might consider similar names, or slight variations of the name you want, as long as they don't infringe on any copyrights. There are some instances where you might be able to purchase a domain name from the current owner through a private sale, an auction, or a domain name broker. Ask yourself if the benefits of registering the name you want outweigh those of using a new or different name, and the cost of doing so.
How can I protect my domain name?
Domain name registration is conducted on a first-come, first-served basis, so once you decide on a domain name, you should register it as soon as possible to decrease the chances of it being taken by someone else.
It is important to monitor your business' presence on the Internet. Make sure you know if other sites are using variations of your domain name to attract customers, and what the effects might be.
Both the Canadian Internet Registration Authority and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' have introduced dispute resolution policies that can help you resolve issues of bad faith registration of domain names.
- What is intellectual property?
Find out what you need to know about intellectual property, and how to secure your IP rights.
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