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Make it Easy for People to Find You

Due to the growing overload of information on the web, people no longer have the time to search the Internet let alone search engine results in order to find exactly what they want. More and more people would love to skip search engines and their plethora of irrelevant, or misleading, links. And many attempt to reach websites directly by typing plausible URLs into their browsers.

Beyond generic names, domain names that are short, easy to pronounce and easy to remember have considerable mnemonic value. A mnemonic is a device (such as a word, symbol or sound) intended to assist in recall. If a domain name carries some mnemonic value, it will increase traffic on its own. The more generic or mnemonic a name is, the more valuable it is.

Several interesting case studies include the acquisition of the domain name "art.com" by an online lithograph seller, originally named "art-u-frame-it.com," for a whopping $450,000 USD. Rumor has it that traffic and sales have soared almost immediately. But another case is the domain name "business.com," which recently sold for an incredible $7.5 million. And that's not a rumor!

While the availability of domain names let alone good ones is shrinking, here are five basic guidelines to follow when registering yours. Try to follow these as much as you can and your chances of creating instant traffic will be multiplied.

First, choose a suggestive name, one that communicates the main benefit if not at least the nature of the website. Benefit-based domain names have a multitude of advantages beyond ease-of-recall, including branding and credibility. For example, if you sought a financial planner and were given a bunch of URLs, would you choose http://www.nafep.com? Or http://www.investright.com?

Second, make it easy to pronounce and hard to misspell. Don't forget this number one rule in choosing names: "If you have to spell, say farewell!" Ultimately, think of the people trying to find the website. Make it easy for them to do so and avoid anything that impedes the proper spelling of the domain name.

For instance, avoid hyphens (like http://lets-make-a-deal.com), numbers (like http://www.4you.com), hard-to-pronounce words (like http://www.akamai.com or http://www.heitml.com) or acronyms (like http://dfps.com). Unless you are IBM, AOL, CNN, BMW or some other, already well-known brand, avoid acronyms or initials at all costs -- they are probably the worst of the bunch.

In short, make the name intuitive. Words that are easily or commonly misspelled will surely impede traffic. If a name contains any such words then realize that the chances of losing potential traffic are significant.

On the other hand, if an acronym makes a name easy to pronounce, easy to remember and shorter, then go for it. In fact, this is the third guideline: The shorter it is the better. For example, which one would you remember the most and have the least amount of trouble (or potential for error) in typing into your browser: YetAnotherHierarchicallyOrganizedOracle.com? Or Yahoo.com?

Next, "dot-com" it. Being the most popular suffix, its mnemonic value is as great as that of short domain names. Actually, more and more companies are dropping the "http://" and "www" from their URLs, particularly in their advertising. And it will be soon, "As society embraces the Internet," says Martin Lindstrom, co-author of "Brandbuilding on the Internet," that the "dot com will disappear too".

Finally, the fifth guideline is to use repetition. Repetitious sounds are pleasing to the ear and add a singsong quality to names. As the adage goes, "Repetition is the parent of learning." By making the pronunciation simpler, repetition, such as with rhymes and alliteration, helps to turn names into "hooks."

For example, http://www.nobrainerblinds.com, cocacola.com and http://www.sitesell.com have that pleasing, singsong quality. Also, strong-sounding (or "choppy") consonants (like the sound of "P," "D," "T" and "K"), used particularly at the beginning of names, help to increase recall by adding emphasis. These are called plosives. And according to naming guru Steve Rivkin, "It makes linguistic sense to start a brand name with a strong-sounding consonant or a plosive" (see http://www.namingnewsletter.com/Plosives.html).

Ultimately, if you already possess a domain name that breaks any of the above rules, register a second one and point it to the your website's IP ("Internet protocol") address, which is your site's Internet location. Many websites have two, three or even more names pointing to the same IP for increased visibility.

It is unclear if this is true but hyphens can be used in this case to maximize search results. A good strategy is to register both versions (such as one with the hyphen and one without it), and point both of them to the same IP address. The added advantage is that keyword-based domains names often rank higher on most search engines. If you have a name such as "stock-tips.com," chances are the keywords "stock" and "tips" will cause your site to be ranked higher.

In essence, make it easy for people to find the site, for the easier it is to find it the easier it will be to draw traffic to it -- and the easier it will be to do so without any form of advertising. And think like your visitors and the keywords under which they will likely find your site. The more you do the more traffic you will generate.

About the Author
Michel Fortin is an author, speaker and Internet marketing consultant dedicated to turning businesses into powerful magnets. Visit
SuccessDoctor.com. He is also the editor of the "Internet Marketing Chronicles" ezine delivered weekly to 100,000 subscribers - subscribe free at SuccessDoctor.com/IMC/



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