If your not overly website or tech savi you might think that a web address is something that doesn’t need much thought, but when your getting into the online business to make money you need to put thought into every step as your web address and website is going to be your doorway to someone visiting your business and ultimately spending money.
When it comes to registering a web address it isn’t difficult but there are certainly considerations you need to make when you are choosing a name to register.
AVOID UNNECESSARY WORDS
One common mistake I see photographers make when selecting a web address is the need to add the word “Photography” at the end of it. It is totally unnecessary, a web address is an address to your website. Don’t make it any more complicated for the visitor than it is necessary. By this I mean, look at my web address mattlauder.com.au, it’s just my name. A customer looking for me needs to type in 10 characters to get it correct, if not it will error out. Now if I add “photography” at the end of it I have just added another 11 characters to the address, so my web address is now 21 characters long for someone to type in, that’s 21 possible mistakes they could make to not find me and get an error page.
Remember that when the customer types in your web address they already know you’re a photographer as they are looking for you so you don’t need to say it in your address. If your looking for a hardware store like Bunnings their website is bunnings.com.au, not bunningshardware.com.au it is unnecessary, you know what they are, when you get to their site you will see they’re a hardware store, if someone spells hardware wrong they won’t get to the site. Sure Google will correct it for them if they’re using google to search, but that’s not the point.
Keep it simple. I once saw a photographer have something similar to this as their web address mattlaudernaturallightlandscapephotography .com. That’s matt lauder natural light landscape photography … not good. That’s 42 characters. Imagine typing that into the address bar on your mobile phone ?
REGISTER COMMON MISTAKES
This is one that you’re not going to really think of and that’s registering a website that is wrong. Yes, that’s right a wrong website. While I have my mattlauder.com.au website if I found a lot of people during my life had spelt my name incorrectly like Matt Lawder or similar what I would do is register the web address mattlawder.com.au and then put a redirect onto it to my real and correctly spelt website. This way I catch that traffic. On the mattlawder.com.au website, you can have a single page that says “Hey looks like you spelt my name wrong… all good we are going to direct you to mattlauder.com.au”.
Then if you put google analytics on this page you will be able to track how many visitors get this wrong and visit this page, and if you find it very low then next time the address comes up for registration you let it go. But it is a good idea to at least think about it.
DO YOU HAVE A COMPLICATED OR HARD TO SPELL NAME
While it’s perfect for people with names like Smith or Jones, but what about those who have first or especially last names that are difficult to say let alone spell in a web address. If you have a name that is complicated to spell or is very long, maybe think if there is any way you can shorten it or make it simpler for someone to remember or type incorrectly. Just remember all you want to achieve is for the customer to get to your website. If they type in a shortened version of your name and then on your website, they see the full version then they will put it together, but don’t always count on that.
Or you could register the full version and the shortened version and use the shortened version on your business card / car etc and redirect it to the full version website and use the full version website address for online linking and everything else.
DONT FORGET THE .COM.AU
When you have a website you have an international audience. When the web first launched every website was a .com, there were no .com.au or .com.uk anything like that. So when you register your web address in your country, if the .com version is available, get it! If you don’t and someone types .com and forget the .au at the end of your web address guess what, Error page.
A .com website can cost you as little as $9. It’s a small price to pay when setting up your online business.
When you get your .com website you put a redirect on it to your main address which will be your .com.au one or the country your in. There is nothing stopping you to do it the other way around either. It’s good to have both if you can get it.
Above the “o” was left out of photography in the email address.
DONT FORGET EMAIL
There is a level of professionalism and trust when it comes to dealing with customers using an email address from your website. By this I mean if I reply to a customer it comes from info @ mattlauder.com.au not from mattlauder @ gmail.com. When your email comes from your site it looks good. Now with everything that has been talked about regarding complicated website addresses, this is where you can come unstuck. Yes google will correct a customer to what they meant, filled in the blanks for the incorrect spelling of a name, but where you will lose out is email. If a customer has to type in your email address and makes a mistake at all, it will result in the email never gets to you. Never and it is up to them to correct and find the error and redo. There is no google safety net to help.
The email will bounce, the sender will be told you couldn’t be reached and if this is an initial inquiry odds are unless they are very keen for your product they will just assume it’s your problem and not theirs and find an alternate supplier or photographer.
WHAT IF YOU WANTED TO CHANGE YOUR DOMAIN NAME
If you have read this and thought “Wow I wish I had of done this when I first started” then don’t worry it is never too late to make a change. The whole thing about running a business, especially an online one it to grow and develop it to perform at it’s peek.
Now if you wanted to change your website address to something simpler, like dropping off the “photography” title at the end then what you do is you register and host your new website name and then you move your content to the new website. With your old website what you now do is put what called a permanent 301 redirect on it. So it will automatically redirect anyone going to your old website pages, and they will visit the new one and the best thing is they won’t even know unless they looked at the address bar during the process.
Now moving your website and setting up 301 redirects isn’t as simple process for someone not experienced with this kind of thing so I would recommend finding a web designer that can do this for you. A website like Upwork is a great place to start, your job is very basic for a designer and the cost will be minimal.
For more information on what a 301 redirect is given it a quick google, but below are some good articles that will make it clear. Always best to know what you’re wanting.
WRAPPING IT UP
The online game of internet business is a massive one. 260 billion dollars a year alone is lost through customers not completing the checkout process and abandoning their shopping carts. That is a crazy amount of money. Getting people to your website is the first of many many hurdles you have to overcome. I hope this article has at least given you something to think about when planning your web address. It isn’t a hard and fast rule but I think I have proven my point in showing to how easy it is to not get to a website or send an email just by missing an “o” in the word photography, an unnecessary word that shouldn’t even be at the end of your web address.
If you have any questions please post them below, I am happy to share my knowledge where I can.