Any individual, business, or organization planning to have an internet presence should invest in a domain name. Having your own domain name, along with an associated website and email addresses, is an expected professional decision for running a business in today's world - even for nonprofits! Domain names can be registered and renewed for a low yearly fee and an array of domain choices are available. On the internet, your domain name is your unique identity. Think of it this way: if you are renting space in a building for your rescue, you give out your street address so people can find you. If you are renting space on the internet, you give out your domain name.

Your domain name is not your website

A domain name is not the same thing as a website, just as a street address is not the same thing as a building that resides at that address. Websites are the content that your visitors interact with online, while domain names are configured to "point" at that content. In fact, multiple domain names can point to one website!

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A domain name is unique and searchable

A unique, memorable name is more likely to stick with your visitors and encourage them to learn more about you. Even if you do not own an official website, you can use a domain name to point to almost any place on the internet (such as your Facebook page). This will make it easier for your community to find your web presence. 

A domain name adds credibility

Having your own domain name shows that your organization is professional and has taken steps to be around for the long-term. Organizations without a domain name give the appearance that they may only be a temporary presence, which can put off potential adopters or donators. Help your community be confident that your team is committed to your cause by choosing a domain name and using it for your website and email addresses.

A domain name builds visibility for your cause

Much like a storefront window, a good domain name will create awareness and attract members of your community to your cause. It can also help you to protect your "brand" by preventing other individuals from purchasing a domain that really should be connected to your organization. Once you register a domain, no one else can have that domain unless you choose not to renew your registration.

A domain name increases your search engine ranking

As you update your website with reputable content, your domain name will become more and more recognizable in search engines like Google, which draws more visitors.

A domain name adds mobility to your internet presence 

Owning your own domain name lets you take that name with you if you transfer web hosts or switch to your own in-house server. If you don’t own your domain name, you would have to take a new URL whenever you switch hosts, which will destroy the reputation that you built up with your first hostname address.

How to select a domain name

The first step is to brainstorm some domain name possibilities. It can take awhile to find an available name that fits your cause, but it is worth the effort. Often more common rescue names may already be taken by other organizations, but don't let that prevent you from finding a domain. Many people get caught up trying to choose the perfect name, when that time could be spent building a great website around a perfectly good domain name. Don't let choosing a perfect domain hold you back! 

An important thing to remember about domain names is that each domain name includes the TLD, or Top-level domain. The TLD refers to the last segment of a domain name - the part that follows immediately after the "dot" symbol. For example, in our domain name, the ".org" portion is the TLD. If you want to use a domain name with different TLDs, you need to register each name separately. For example, our company registered and We simply redirect any visitors who mistyped our domain name with the wrong TLD to our primary domain name, 

Domain name selection tips:

  • Keep your domain name short
  • Consider abbreviations- these can be easier to type
  • Avoid numbers and hyphens.
  • Consider including your city or state abbreviation in your domain name to make it easy for locals to find and remember.
  • Avoid funny spellings or words that can be spelled different ways (like “way” or “too”). These might make it hard for people to find your site.
  • Avoid commonly misspelled words or letter combinations. For example, words with “ie” or “ei” in them often get misspelled, try to avoid words with that pairing

Is the domain you want available?

If you are a Site admin, you can use your account to search for available domains so you can see if a particular name is available for you to register. Here's how:

  1. Login to your account
  2. Go to Services > Domain Registration
  3. Click on the link to Register a new domain name, under the Domain Names section
  4. On the Register Domain page, you can enter different domain names and click Search to find out if the name you want is available. Remember, a domain name includes the name and the TLD.

  5.  If the domain name you searched for is not available, you will see an unavailable message like in this example:
  6. If the domain name you searched for is available, you'll find a message along with an option to Add to Cart. You can now start the registration process with!

Okay, I selected an available domain name. Now, how do I register it?

There are many companies that can act as your domain registrar, including! We find many of our organizations appreciate being able to combine their technology services into one provider, and we'd be happy to help you streamline your setup as well. Please review our domain name service and see if it is the right choice for you. If it's not a good fit, that's okay. There are many other domain registrars available, and you can always register somewhere else and still point the domain back to to use with our hosting or website services. 

Once you find an available domain name that you like, you can register it with by adding the name to your cart and checking out. You can read more about registering a domain name if you need more details. 

A domain name will not be registered until your domain registration invoice is paid.

The bottom line is that a good domain name can go a long way toward generating traffic to your website and building your reputation. That, in turn, will result in more eyes on your rescue and more animals getting saved!

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