The first step in moving your real estate business online is to choose a domain name.
Be prepared – finding an effective, affordable and available domain name for your real estate business can quickly turn into an exercise in compromise, disappointment and frustration. Be patient and flexible, and follow these 10 guidelines to find the best online address for your business.
1. Use your name: I’m surprised how often this is over-looked, but if you’re an individual agent – your own brand in other words – using your name is usually the best way to go (i.e. BrentCarnduff.com)
If you’re part of a team, then use the name of your team (i.e. CarnduffTeam.com).
However, if your name is difficult (i.e. there’s a reason Mike Krzyzewski is known as Coach K.), or already spoken for, you’ll have to come up with something else:
- add an initial or middle name
- consider an alternative domain extension (see #2 below)
- add “team” or “group” to your name
Check your real estate division/board for rules governing your area. Here in Nevada, if you are creating a team, your team name needs to include your last name (i.e. Carnduff team, or Carnduff group).
2. Try to find a .com. They are still the standard for business use. However, if a .com is not possible, from an SEO perspective, other gTLD (Generic Top Level Domains) work just as well. New gTLDs are becoming available all of the time. For real estate agents, I would recommend either getting the .REALTOR, or perhaps your city extension if its available (i.e. .vegas)
3. Your domain doesn’t have to contain your keywords: although it can help with branding, it is no longer tied to improved search rankings*.
*Note: Officially, Google says that it is not a ranking factor, however, some SEOs claim that it still offers a small boost.
4. Your domain should be short and easy to type.
Example: You probably shouldn’t select something like brentsellslasvegashomes.com. Although perfectly descriptive of your service, it’s not easy to type or read.
5. Hyphens: Most “Domain” guidelines recommend avoiding hyphens in a domain name (i.e. mybusiness.com is better than my-business.com), however, there are times when they can work.
For our team, we purchased (and use) both “Carnduffteam.com” and “Carnduff-Team.com”. We wanted to make sure that we show up for Carnduffteam, but felt that it looked better with a hypen, Carnduff-team.
I would avoid using a hyphenated domain if the non-hyphenated version is a direct competitor or business in your geographical market.
6. Numbers (i.e. 5th vs Fifth): Again, most guides recommend against using actual numbers, instead suggesting that the number be spelled out, however, like the hyphen rule, I think that there are circumstances where it can work. Again, if you’re using a number, you may want to consider purchasing both the numerical and text version of the URL.
7. Avoid being too cute or clever with your domain name. It’s become more common to see online businesses intentionally using misspellings or slang terms which can be confusing to new searchers – unless of course you set up a re-direct from the traditional spelling as well.
8. Use Geo-location terms: If your part of team, but you serve a unique geographical area, use Geo-location terms to differentiate your domain name (i.e. add your City, State, or neighborhood to your URL – “CarnduffTeamBoise” )
9. Avoid using another brand in your URL: If you are part of a team or company, but own your own website, try to choose a URL that is not connected to that company or team.
If you eventually decide to leave that team, you want to be able to take your web presence with you.
10. Test similar URLs: If you end up getting the .com version of your name, you’re probably safe, but if you’re considering using a different extension, or add a hyphen, check the .com and non-hyphenated versions to make sure that they do not point to competitors, or adult content.
Finding the right domain name is a big decision, but one that I always find exciting. Keep searching until you find the one that feels right for your brand – then OWN it!
Best of luck in your search, and with your new online presence!
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