A Financial Professional’s Guide to Selecting a Website Domain
Forward-thinking independent financial advisors, CPAs, RIAs and CFPs know that their website is – or will become – a crucial component of their business. This is especially true for those that put themselves in the “location independent” category.
Put frankly, the web opens up virtually endless new business opportunities for all financial professionals. But to be on the web, you first need a domain – the web address that will lead prospects to your virtual doorstep.The web opens up virtually endless new business opportunities for financial professionals. Click To Tweet
When to Register a Domain
I encourage everyone – financial professional or not – to register their domain(s) as soon as they’ve taken the time to identify the best option. Why? A few reasons:
- If you don’t, someone else might. If that happens, it could end up costing you down the road.
- Once you’ve chosen a domain, it only takes a few minutes to register – which will prevent others from “stealing” it.
- A domain will usually cost less than $20 a year to keep registered. Compared to other business expenses, this is a drop in the bucket. So why not just do it as soon as possible?
Wait! Don’t go running off to your nearest domain registration site just yet. Take the next few minutes to read this over, then we’ll talk about registering it after.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Most FPs will simply put a “.com” behind their brand name and call it a day. But if your brand’s name doesn’t include descriptive words like “advisors”, “financial planning”, or “investments” you might want to think about incorporating them. We’ll get to creative ways of doing that in a second, but these are terms that will stand out for ripe prospects. Try to make it easier for them by incorporating something descriptive in your URL.
Get Creative If You Need To
From a branding perspective, the best domain is probably the one with your brand name in it – OpenRoadWealth.com, AchievableWealthFP.com, AdvisorFacingTax.com. But that may or may not work well for your particular brand. If this is the case, you might need to do some keyword research and get creative.
For instance, if your business name is “Lipowitchowok Financial Planning” and you specialize in socially responsible investing for homeschooling families – don’t pick a domain after your brand name. Pick something like “SRI-Homeschool.whatever” or “HomeschoolSRI.whatever”.
Not Too Long
Of course you want a chunk of your traffic to be from people that clicked on a Google result. But remember that some people will need to manually type in your domain too. They may have gotten a business card, seen a local ad or perhaps heard your site mentioned in a podcast.
On the topic of length – mobile devices typically have small and annoying virtual keyboards, so typing in something long is less than desirable. As of the date this post was published, mobile website visitors account for 44% of visits in the US. If I had to make a prediction, mobile will surpass desktop within the next month.
Regardless of the device type being used, be cognizant of how many characters must be physically pressed to arrive at your website.
In addition to them being cumbersome to type, longer domains can be a little more difficult to read as well. Allow me to demonstrate: You tell me which domain has the better readability…
See what I mean?
Consider Errors & Typos
This isn’t something most will need to think about, but some words are easy to mistype…think back to our “Lipowitchowok Financial Planning” example from earlier. Good luck getting people to type that in correctly.
If you realize that your domain is prone to typos and you have the budget for it, register the typo-versions of the domain. You’ll then be able to point it/them to your primary domain later.
Alternate Domain Extensions
Yes, “.com” domains get more recognition and are more popular. But if you’re brave enough, there are many other dots to consider besides the notorious dot-com.
According to this credible source, using a .com does not provide any SEO benefit over alternate extensions. Some generic alternatives include .co and .net, but there are also some other possibilities…
Then there are the industry-specific extensions you may not be aware of:
How to Register Your Domain
Now that you’ve got a better idea about your domain options, it’s time to take action and register the domain. This is a 2-part task.
Part 1: Make a List
Make a spreadsheet and write down every domain that you would consider using for your brand in a column. Put each variation in its own cell. Make sure everything’s spelled correctly!
When you’re done, sort the rows so that the most desired domain is at the top. For example, your list might look like:
You get the idea: most desired domains at the top, least at the bottom.
Part 2: Register It
Now it’s time to actually get the domain so that nobody else does. Head over to your domain registrar of choice and grab your business credit card. If you don’t have a domain registrar in mind already, I recommend doing it through Hover, GoDaddy or 1&1.
Once on the registrar’s website, paste the domain at the top of your list and see if it’s available. If it is, celebrate in your chair. Otherwise, try the next domain on your list. Repeat this until you’ve found the first one that’s available.
Now is the time when you’ll need to proceed to checkout. Before you do, a few quick comments…
Ditch the Extras – Some registrars will try to get you to add stuff onto your order before submitting a payment. Think about this the same way you would the checkout line in the grocery store: you may see 1 or 2 things you want, but generally speaking it’s all crap you don’t need at this very moment.
Keep Your Personal Information Private – When you register a domain, your information will be stored and, unless you specify, will also be available for the world to see. Your name, address, email, phone number…all publicly available to every person on the planet. When you see the option to register the domain privately, do it.
This is the only “extra” I would recommend getting. Sometimes this doesn’t cost anything more, but I’ve seen some registrars market this as a premium service.
Extensions/Auto Renewals – If you plan on being in business for a little while, you might want to register the domain for more than 1 year – especially if there’s financial incentive to do so. Even if there isn’t, you don’t want to forget to renew a domain, so I suggest allowing them to automatically renew the domain for you when the time comes, even if it is a year from now.
When you’re ready, proceed to checkout and lookout for a confirmation email from the registrar. They may require further authorization, so you’ll need to follow any instructions given for that, should it apply.
Once you’re done registering the domain, the next step along your journey will be to get a website designed for your financial services brand. If you’re looking for help with that, meet me over here.
About the Author
My professional experience with the web reaches back more than a decade. During this time, I've been creating sites for individuals and businesses, working on a team of digital experience analysts as well as providing qualitative and quantitative research surrounding web and mobile technology.Jonathan