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Take care when choosing your domain name

A business faces plenty of challenges when creating a new presence on the Web. Some are obvious: registering a domain name; selecting effective website technology; creating the website; getting found in Google searches; and adding great content that site visitors will find valuable.

Business owners often overlook how a site's domain name could be perceived by the search engines, and by other sites that try to parse the domain name to infer what the site is about.


Imagine you're the owner of a plant nursery that specializes in frost-hardy native shrubs, cut flower varieties and farm trees. You have a beautiful 2,430-hectare sheep and cattle property, and you also offer "farm stay" holidays to local and overseas visitors. You want to promote both the nursery and the ranch on the same website. Most local visitors wouldn't think twice about shopping at the Mole Station Nursery. Unfortunately, visitors from outside the immediate area may hesitate to book a family holiday at MolestationNursery.com.

This problem isn't unique to novice website owners. Crowder Associates is a professional website hosting provider that wanted to create a site promoting towns, cities and businesses related to New York State's canal system. They may have gotten a slightly different visitor demographic from what they were targeting when they named their website NycAnal.com.

The website naming problem often crops up when site owners try to get creative with sophisticated-sounding foreign language terms or niche technical jargon.


For example, the astronomical term "analemma" denotes a curve representing the angular offset of a celestial body -- usually the sun -- from its mean position on the celestial sphere as viewed from another celestial body relative to the viewing body's celestial equator, according to Wikipedia). If you create a website with the term, however, you risk attracting visitors who aren't looking for astronomical facts, and who wonder why they're not finding Emma on a site called AnalEmma.de.

Thousands of domain names have the potential to confuse visitors because website owners didn't think them through. For most of these, misinterpretation of the name leads to an innocent chuckle. But for others, a misinterpretation could lead to lost business opportunities, or a significant increase in site traffic from people looking for content that has nothing to do with the website's actual purpose.

Some of my favorite examples (in no particular order):

For bonus points, re-CamelCase the rest of these yourself!

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