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Choosing a Domain Name for Your Agency Website

Choosing a Domain Name for Your Agency Website

So you would like to generate more leads from your own website?

We actually know many of you would because it is a very popular topic in our inbox.  Why wouldn’t it be?  We absolutely recommend agents diversify marketing efforts as much as possible.  Creating a high quality information packed agency website or blog is an excellent way to naturally generate more prospects and establish a web presence in your market.

Based on the emails we get many of you don not know where you to start.  That is OK!  You are probably not moonlighting as a webmaster. 🙂

This post will be part of an ongoing series of website creation and optimization for lead generation.

We suggest starting with a solid domain name

Domain names play several important roles for your website including brand ability, ease of marketing and search engine rankings.  All other things considered you can get away with a marginal domain name.  However, it is worth noting that a high search volume keyword domain relevant to your market or line can be a significant advantage.  Additionally a domain that is confusing or difficult to remember can be a disadvantage to your marketing efforts.  Users will often form an opinion regarding your company on viewing your URL before even visiting your website.

When searching for a domain name here are some filter questions to start with:

  • How memorable is this name?
  • Is it easy to spell?  Is it confusing?
  • Is this name relevant to my market and services?
  • Does it pass the radio test?
    (the radio test determines if a listener can determine the spelling by only hearing the domain name.)
  • Is it a generic keyword with search volume?
    (Generic keyword domains increase the likelihood of direct type in traffic and garner higher rankings for exact match and similar keywords in search engines.)
  • Will this domain name help my search rankings?
    (Factors such as keywords, registration age and existing incoming links can increase search rankings.)

As a general rule it is a good idea to keep the domain as short as possible with exceptions for high search volume keywords (i.e. – Los Angeles Auto Insurance).

The best place to start finding relevant keywords with volume for your market is with the Google Keyword Tool.

We highly recommend obtaining a domain with a .com extension.  There are always exceptions but it is important to know that if you do not use .com you will be leaking some type-in traffic to the .com version of your domain.  Typing .com at the end of a URL is an unconscious action by many users.

At the very least every agent should have their own website.  Additionally, we also recommend creating a blog or niche content website designed to target a specific product line or location.  It is a good idea for captive agents to use a website separate from the parent company property to target specific users.

Action Item: Search for an available domain name at a domain registrar

Some good options would be the name of your agency (.com), your name (.com) or popular keywords for your area (i.e.: Denver Insurance, Denver Insurance Agency, Denver Insurance Agent, Denver Auto Insurance, etc).  If there aren’t any domains available you might consider adding a dash (-) between the keywords.  We only recommend considering this option for domains with two words, so one dash only.  More than one dash is often associated with spam.

Popular Registrars:

If you don not find any suitable available domains you will need to consider buying a registered domain on the secondary market or registering an alternative extension.  While we suggest starting with exploring aftermarket options here is the order we rank alternative extensions.

1) .NET – This is the second largest extension (TLD) in terms of total registrations.  It is also one of the oldest and most recognized extensions after .com.

2) .US – This is presuming you are in the US.  .US is the United States country code extension (ccTLD).  While it is newer than .com/.net/.org it is very relevant for a US based business.  (Note if you are outside the US your local ccTLD should probably rank over .net)

3) .ORG – For many purposes .org would be the 2nd or 3rd choice behind .com.  However, as the primary URL for your business .org is not relevant as it was originally intended for organizations (org status not required).  .Org can be a good option for secondary sites targeting specific users.

Search the secondary market for a domain name.
According to sources such as DNJournal.com and Sedo.com the average reported aftermarket domain sale is between $1,500 and $2,000.  If you look and ask around you will find domains priced much less and much more but it might take over $1,000 to secure a quality domain.

Action Item: Search online marketplaces
Search the marketplaces listed below for relevant domain names.

Action Item: Contact domain owners directly
Domain registrations require WhoIs contact information.  You can seek out the WhoIs information at domaintools.com.  Use this information to call or email the domain owner to make an offer or negotiate a purchase.  It is best to do this when there is not a developed site on the domain.

This might be an exercise that takes ten minutes or ten days. Regardless of which, the process is worth the effort. A good address for your website can have an enormous impact on traffic levels and conversion rate. Do your self a favor and get started with a solid foundation. You will be glad you did!

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