Your domain name plays a huge role in the online marketing success of your agency.
Let me explain…
If it’s too complicated clients won’t share it with their friends. If it’s too long no one will ever visit it. If it’s easily mis-spelled people will think you went out of business and your emails will be sent to the wrong address. If your domain name is cheesy, customers and prospects won’t take you seriously!
And if your domain name is easily forgotten, so is your agency.
Changing your domain name in the future is possible, but it’s a pain in the butt technologically, can damage your search rankings for years, and can force you to reprint thousands of dollars worth of business cards and other stationary.
I want insurance agents like you to avoid domain name mistakes I’ve seen other agents make, so here’s a crash course on choosing the right domain name.
First, What is a Domain Name?
Domain Name vs. Website Hosting
Owning a Domain Name gives you the right to point that website name (www.example.com) to website files located anywhere on the internet. It costs between $8-$20 per year.
Website Hosting is is the place where you store the files that make up the website. It’s file storage space like the hard drive of your computer except the files are accessible to the internet. It costs between $40-$200 per year.
You can purchase your domain name and your website hosting from the same company or from two different companies. For example, I buy my domain names from CheapestURL.com and I host my websites with Hostgator.
How to Tell If a Domain Name is Available
Only one person can own each individual domain name so if someone else already owns the rights to a domain name, you can’t. You can buy it from that person but in the majority of cases I find it’s easier to just be more creative and find something that is available.
Any company that sells domain names (like GoDaddy or CheapestURL) allows you to search for name availability as part of the purchasing process, but I use and recommend a tool called Instant Domain Search for the research phase because it gives you real-time availability as you type each letter.
Rules for Avoiding Domain Name Mistakes:
Let’s start with some rules to help you avoid making some mistakes I’ve made myself and seen hundreds of other agents make in the past. Of course, every rule doesn’t apply in every situation, but there is value in considering each one before making a purchase.
Rule #1 – Buy a .COM Only
There are tons of different extensions you can purchase like .ORG, .NET, .BIZ, .CO, .US, .MOBI etc. but I strongly advise against using them because they tend to look less professional and because most people type “.COM” by habit. Every time that happens:
- Clients will think you went out of business.
- Customers visit someone else’s website and think it’s you.
- People will type your email wrong and you’ll miss important messages.
Rule #2 – Don’t Use a Hyphen
So you want getcheapinsurance.com but it’s already taken. Sure, you can be creative and purchase, get-cheap-insurance.com but this is a mistake. Again, people will visit your competitors by mistake or think you went out of business.
Hyphenated domain names also look less legitimate and established and you’ll spend the rest of your career pointing out to people that they need to type in the hyphens.
Rule #3 – Be Careful With Numbers
Insurance4you2day.com might sound cool and easy to you – but it’s not.
What if people spell out the word four instead of using the digit 4? If there’s any confusion at all, they won’t even make the effort to find you.
Plus it looks more like something a teenager would write in a text message than a professional business.
Unless it’s really clear, I’d stay away from numbers. Marketers have paid millions for 800 numbers that spelled words, not the other way around.
Rule #4 – Avoid Using Only Non-Branded Insurance Words
One very common mistake I see is agents buying a domain name that only includes insurance related keywords without anything specific to their agency.
Don’t get me wrong, if you could get a name like cheapinsurance.com, cheapquotes.com, or floridainsurance.com that would be great!
The problem with this approach is that all the good names are already taken by agents before you or domain name prospectors, which means you’ll either pay tens of thousands of dollars to buy a good name from someone else or you’ll wind up with something ridiculous like: getyourcheapestquotestodaynow.com.
Your domain name should represent your established business, not an insurance concept that could be easily replaced by any other agency. Also, what impression does it make to your current clients when your domain name is all about getting quotes and selling policies?
Rule #5 – Carefully Consider Using Locations
Using a specific location in your domain name with something like SpringfieldInsurance.com can work very well if you’re only ever planning to keep your agency in Springfield.
If you ever decide to expand to a neighboring town or even just sell outside your region from the same location, anchoring yourself to that location can get in the way.
I’m not saying it’s 100% bad because this is a great strategy in many situations. I’m just recommending you consider future business decisions that may be effected.
Rule #6 – Avoid Using Carrier Brand Names
In addition to being against the agreements of your contract in many cases, creating a domain name that includes the official name of a carrier or carriers you write for can be a big mistake.
It sounds like a good idea because you can gain some of the trust that’s associated with those brand names but if you ever want to change carriers you’ll have to change your website domain name. Also, even if the carrier is okay with your domain name today, they may change policies in the future and tell you to take it down.
Have you ever known an insurance carrier to change marketing policies?
Rule #7 – Give it Some Time
I understand the rush to purchase a domain name and get the project moving forward. Don’t rush it.
If a domain name is available today, it’ll still be there a few days from now. Sleep on it, take some time and make sure you’re making the right decision. It’ll be a messy thing to change later on.
Tips for Choosing The Best Insurance Agency Domain Name
Okay, so we’ve gone though some rules about what not to do. Let’s talk about some tips to help you find the right name.
Tip #1 – Shorter is Better
A short name is better than a long name because:
- Clients are more likely to type it in.
- Customers are less likely to misspell it.
- It takes up less space on your business cards, stationary, etc.
- It allows you to have an easier email address
- It looks more legit since very few big name companies have website domain names longer than 8-10 letters.
Tip #2 – Go with FirstAndLastName.com
Short, simple, easy… If you’re lucky enough to get it, go with it.
My name is John Carroll, and I share it with a university in Ohio, a high school in Maryland, and thousands of other people on earth. Unfortunately I’m too late to purchase JohnCarroll.com. I can’t even get JohnFCarroll.com.
However, many of the agents reading this article CAN purchase their full name and if you can get your full first and last name in the .COM extension, I say get it.
Tip #3 – Add the Word, “Insurance” To Your Name
If your first and last name .com isn’t available, try adding the word insurance to the end. You’ll probably want to drop the first name here if it’s available.
Sure it’s getting a little long, but that’s okay because it’s still only representing two things: your name and the word insurance, both of which people will hopefully know.
Tip #4 – Use the Word “Agency”
Adding the word, “Agency” at the end of your full name or last name can sometimes help you find an available domain name. You can also add a “The” to the beginning.
Did you know Facebook.com was originally TheFacebook.com? Of course you did, it was in the movie.
Tip #5 – Use Other “Modifier” Words
There are many other short little words you can add to the beginning or end of your domain name to find a name that is available to purchase. Here’s a list of some of the most popular:
- State Abbreviation (CA, FL, NY, etc)
- Area Code (305, 315, 505, 215, etc)
Tip #6 – Don’t Buy the .ORG, .BIZ, .NET etc Names Too
Not everyone agrees with me about this because there are a lot of supposed “internet marketing experts” who encourage small business owners to buy all the versions of your domain name to “protect your brand”.
This is B.S.
I think this is promoted by the domain name sellers who want to make more money. If you buy XYZinsurance.com and someone else comes in and buys XYZinsurance.biz, it’ll only help you!
Some people will visit your site on accident by typing .COM instead of .BIZ but who in their right mind would accidentally type in .BIZ instead of .COM?
Unless you’re a major national brand or extremely paranoid, don’t waste your money buying those other versions of your domain name. Even at $10 each, owning all those extraneous domain names when you already own the .COM is a waste of money.
Tip #7 – Purchase Misspellings and Forward Them
If the domain name you choose is hard to spell, purchase the most common misspellings and forward them to the correct version. It’ll only cost you an extra $10 a year per misspelling.
You can also setup email forwarders for those misspelled domain names you purchased so that if people send email to the misspelled domain name they’ll still get to you. CheapestURL and GoDaddy give you email forwarders for free with any domain name purchase.
By the way, I’d only use this tip if your domain name includes a word that is commonly misspelled like your last name. Don’t waste money buying typos or stupid misspellings like “insurince” or “insurence”.
Tip #8 – Ask Your Friends and Family
Don’t rely on your intuition alone. With decisions like this, an outsider’s opinion is often more valuable than your own.
Here’s how it usually works for me. First, I get feedback I didn’t really want to hear, Second, I get frustrated and defensive, and then later that day I realize the feedback was right and I wind up making a better decision… Don’t be surprised if you go through the same steps.
Do you have some tips or questions about domain names you’d like to share? Please feel free to add them to the comments below.