- You probably want to pick a domain name that ends in .com. People just put more trust in a .com name than any of the other extensions like .biz, .info, .net, .pro and so on. And even though some of the “hacked” domain names that use extensions from other countries may be ingenious, they just come off as odd. For instance, consider bestlifeinsurancepo.li/cies, which uses the extension “li” from Liechtenstein. Clever, but you probably don’t want people wondering why there’s no .com in your name or thinking you’re based out of Liechtenstein. Other interesting but dubious possibilities might be insure.me/now (Montenegro) or insure.it (Italy). (If you want to play around with “domain hacks” for fun, check out DomainTyper: http://domaintyper.com/)
- Some experts discourage using dashes in domain names, as in insurance-for-homeowners.com. They say that names with hyphens are hard to remember, hard to type and hard to verbalize when you tell people the name of your website. But hyphenated domain names are abundant and the good news is that search engines have no problem with them. They don’t even pay attention to the dashes.
- To see if a name is available, go to any of the domain name registrars such as GoDaddy or 1&1. Many other websites will do searches and help you create a domain name. One site I like is called DOM!ZE (https://domize.com/). When you type in a domain name, you instantly see the availability status of what you’re typing and which of the most popular extensions (or TLDs, top level domains, as they are also called) are available: com, net, org, biz, us. Also, when you hover over the extension names (TLDs), you will see a quote balloon that gives you the prices for that domain as offered by several of the leading domain name registrars (GoDaddy, 1&1, dotster and networksolutions).
- If you feel you must have a certain name that is already taken, you might be able to purchase it. Domainr (http://domai.nr/), among others, will tell you if a name is taken and put you in touch with a broker who will help you negotiate with the domain owner. If the name is being actively used by an entity, they are likely to want a lot of money for it. On the other hand, if a domain name is registered but not in use, you can backorder it and if the owner does not renew the name, it’s yours.
- When creating the rest of your website, make sure it’s friendly to search engines by keeping the language simple. For instance, use “centralcitylifeinsurance.com/coverages/life/quotes” and not “centralcitylifeinsurance.com/17/bin/aprsd12/qte32.php.” The search spiders cannot help you if your site is organized with this kind of language.
- Keep in mind that once you’ve purchased a domain name, you are not locked into to using the provider who sold it to you. You own your domain and can transfer the hosting to any provider you wish. Your domain name is sort like your trademark. It’s yours to delegate as you see fit.
You’d most likely say the answer is the name of your agency. If your agency name is ABC Insurance, your domain name should be ABCInsurance.com, right? After all, your customers, people in your community and your target markets know you by that name. And that’s okay, if you don’t want to use your website to find NEW customers.
The problem with ABC Insurance is that it’s not a very good search term. Do a Google search, for instance, on ABC Insurance, and you’ll get pages and pages of listings for ABC Insurance, with locations all over the country. Actually, you may be surprised that so many insurance agencies have ABC in their name. This is mainly because in the pre-Internet days when Yellow Pages advertising dominated the search market, companies chose firm names that ranked closest to the beginning of the alphabet, because that’s where the listings for a category, such as insurance, begin.
Today, smart insurance marketers still want to be where all the eyeballs start looking. But the strategy is different.
If you want to optimize your domain name for the best search ranking — known as search engine optimization, or Search Engine Marketing — you should keep three things in mind: location, function and branding. These will determine how search engines rank the key words of your domain name in a search query.
Location: With almost 400,000 insurance agents, brokers and companies doing business in the U.S., it’s hard to stand out, especially in a metropolitan area. Here’s where specificity matters. Include the name of your city in your domain name, especially if it’s a small city. There are thousands of agencies selling auto insurance in the San Francisco Bay Area, but there’s only one AutoInsuranceSanMateo.com or AutoInsuranceColma.com.
Function: The location example I just gave, AutoInsuranceSanMateo.com, also illustrates how to focus on function in your domain name, in this case the kind of insurance product you specialize in. Or you could create a domain name that includes your job description: InsuranceFromJackJones.com. Or you could use: QuotesFromJackJones.com, JackJonesInsuraneAgent.com, JackJonesRiskAdvisor.com. The objective here is to help people find you on search engines. If they already know your name, the emphasis on function will be helpful. If they don’t, you probably want to focus primarily on location, then function.
Branding: If at all possible, include your firm name, at least a variation of it, in your domain name, to build on the branding you’ve created. If your agency name is Jack Jones Insurance Agency, the examples I just gave will work pretty well. You could have a domain name without your firm name in it if it says something that’s important about your brand. For instance, maybe a major component of your branding is your relationship to your target market. If your target market is architects and engineers, your domain name might be designprofessionalinsuranceadvisor.com.
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