As a small business owner, establishing an online presence is crucial for reaching customers and growing your brand. However, deciding on whether you want to manage your own website, or get a domain name to match your brand can seem overwhelming.
In this post, we will explore why investing in your own custom domain name, the pros and cons of choosing this path, and the importance for legitimizing your business online and setting yourself up for long term success.
The Benefits of Owning Your Domain
Credibility and Professionalism
A custom domain name instantaneously makes your business look more legitimate and professional. Visitors know they’re engaging with an established company, not something informal that is handled through a social media account, and this boosts trust and credibility.
Generic free domains like “YourBrand.freehostname.com” simply don’t have the same effect – and it gives Geocities vibes.
Your domain becomes part of your brand identity. A short, catchy domain that matches your company name sticks in customers’ minds and makes you more memorable. “YourBrand.com” aligns everything about your online presence directly with your brand.
When you own your domain, you have complete control over it for as long as you keep renewing it. You can point the domain anywhere, use it for your business email, and control the content that you publish.
One of the cons of free domain providers is that they could shut it down anytime or show their own ads and branding on your site.
You can reuse your domain for any aspect of your business: website, blogs, email newsletters, online stores, etc. If you ever pivot your business model, the domain name you own will still work, and you can adapt all other related profiles to your new identity.
An authoritative domain signals search engines that your site is legitimate and increases domain authority. This leads to better SEO rankings so people can find you more easily. There is nothing more effective than having a keyword strategy to drive free traffic to your site and showcase your products and services.
Premium domain names can increase substantially in value over time, especially as your brand grows. Your domain becomes a digital asset you can potentially sell for a profit later. Generic free names have little resale value.
Drawbacks to Owning Your Own Domain
Despite the many benefits, owning your own domain does come with a few potential drawbacks to consider:
The main disadvantage is the yearly cost to purchase and renew a domain. Registration prices range from $12 to $30 on average per year and is an ongoing expense for the life of your business. You may incur higher costs if you decide to purchase a premium domain name.
Finding your ideal domain name that represents your brand and is available to register can be challenging. You may have to get creative with extensions like .io or .co or append additional words to your brand name if your first choice is taken.
Owning a domain means that you will be responsible for maintaining it. This includes renewing it yearly and ensuring the account, registrant info, and DNS settings are all kept up to date. The benefit of free domains is that the provider handles this.
If you ever decide to change your domain name entirely, migrating an existing website and email can be difficult and disruptive to customers, granted this is a rare and infrequent scenario.
What It Means to Own a Piece of the Internet
Registering your own domain name comes with a level of presence, ownership, and control online. Here’s what it really means for your small business:
Digital Real Estate
Your domain becomes a digital asset – a location on the internet that’s uniquely yours. Just like prime real estate in the physical world, digital real estate in the form of a domain gives your business a solid foundation to build upon.
Identity & Reputation
A domain name is part of your business identity and brand. The reputation you build is directly tied to your domain. It establishes you as a fixture of the internet that people can depend on and trust.
Flexibility and Legitimacy
You can point your domain to any hosting provider, email platform, or website builder you want. You have the flexibility to easily switch services while keeping your domain constant. This lets you adapt your tech stack as needed.
When you own a domain and use it prolifically, search engines take your business more seriously compared to scattered free domains or social media pages. Your domain authority improves SEO.
While owning a domain does require an annual cost and ongoing maintenance, the benefits it provides in terms of branding, credibility, control and flexibility make it a worthwhile investment, especially as your business grows.
By registering a memorable domain that matches your company name, visitors will instantly recognize you as a true business rather than a casual hobby. Most importantly, your domain becomes your digital home on the internet, a location you fully control that allows you to build out your online presence and reputation over many years to come.
For small businesses serious about establishing a trusted online brand, a custom domain is a must-have.