Anybody who wants to open an online store and is planning on using osCommerce as there e-commerce solution must have the following:
a) Domain Name
These two items are mandatory and both must be purchased.
*There are exceptions, for instance you could opt not to buy a domain name and opt for a subsite. Many internet service providers provide members with a directory for instance
. These are knows as subsite’s and usually do not cost any money. But let’s step back and think about this option. As a customer, if I saw a subsite I would think hey, this looks really unprofessional, maybe I should not purchase from this store. Not only that, let’s take a look at the domain name, it’s long and also may contain weird characters such as (_) underscore or (~) tilde. Finally, if you start off with a subsite and wish to move to a full domain name, any page rank that your subsite had will be lost as you will loose the domain name. With an actual domain name, if you want to switch servers all you have to do is change your domain name server settings.
Let’s take a look at domain names, highly recommended over subsite’s. There are a multitude of websites that offer domain name registration. In my opinion, stick with major sites that provide a) quality support have been around on the net for awhile.
After choosing a domain name registration company, it is time to choose a domain name. There are a variety of top level domains (tlds) to choose from. The most common are .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info and .us. Choosing the correct extension depends on where you are located and what you are selling. For instance if you are targeting only US markets and the .com and .net of your preferred domain name is not available, consider registering the .us extension. For online store, I always recommend the .com (commercial) and .net (network) when available. Keep in mind that although the .net extension was originally designed to be used by technical web sites it can be registered by anyone.
Let’s go over a few tips on selecting a domain name.
Length matters. Select a domain name that is short and concise.
It is easier to remember Mysite.com then this-is-my-site-on-the-web.com.
Your domain name should contain keywords whenever possible. This is a good trick to use to boost your site’s popularity for particular keywords on search engines.
Your domain name should be directly related to what you are selling. For instance if you are selling widgets your domain name should be something like ABCwidgets.com. I have noticed that the majority of visitors to many of my client’s sites arrive by typing in the domain name directly instead of going through search engines. This tactic allows for visitors to associate your domain name with what products you are offering when they type your domain name in directly.
Use generic names whenever possible. Try to choose a name that people may type into the address bar of their browser without hearing about you. For instance a domain name such as webdesign.com, is really good since people who are looking for web design services may just type webdesign.com into the address bar of their browser. However, this may be hard to accomplish without lots of money to buy these generic term domain names since many of them are already taken. Don’t let this discourage you from doing research within your field to find generic names associated with what you are selling.
These simple techniques will help increase your repeat visitor rates. Before choosing a domain name, it is advisable to search the uspto.gov website to make sure you are not infringing on any trademarks. Domain Name Availability is a useful tool (which supports various extensions) for checking the availability of domain names.
In my next blog entry I will go over hosting and SSL, the second important aspect of getting your business online.