January 27, 2023
·
minute read

Why Every Business Needs a Custom Domain Name

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When it comes to real estate, they say location is everything. But for websites, it’s the address — or domain name — that matters most. It’s not important to visitors where your small business website is hosted, as long as they can find the right address that will lead them there. So it’s critical that you think about your domain name as carefully as you would the name of your business in order to keep customers calling (or emailing).

But your web address can do so much more for your startup operation than just lead people to your website, especially if you decide to go with a fully custom domain name. So let’s map out all the important info about custom domain names to help you make the right decision for your business.

What is a custom domain name?

Truthfully, the real address for your website is called an IP address and it looks something like 192.0.2.1 or 2001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1. If even one character is entered incorrectly, the user will never find your site. Not very user-friendly is it?

A domain name replaces the IP address with something that is ideally easier to type and remember, like www.cheese.com or www.badminton.net. The first domain names were registered in 1985, and the system is the standard way to organize sites on the World Wide Web.

A custom domain name is one that replaces the free account subdomain name provided by a website creation service. For example:

  • Wix account subdomain: steve.wix.com/stevesweaves 
  • Wix custom domain: stevesweaves.com
  • Mailchimp account subdomain: mailchimpsites.com/davesraves
  • Mailchimp custom domain: davesraves.net
  • Notion account subdomain: petesfeets.notion.site
  • Notion custom domain: petesfeets.org
  • Weebly account subdomain: joesdoughs.weebly.com
  • Weebly custom domain: joesdoughs.ca

As you can see, there are a lot of extra characters in the account domains, plus visitors could be confused by other brand names like Wix, Mailchimp, Notion, and Weebly. Plus, imagine telling a potential customer "my website is steve.wix.com/steveweaves." Now imagine telling that same customer "find me at steveweaves.com." Better, right? Custom domains really clean up the address and make it more user-friendly (and memorable).

Additionally, custom domain names allow you to use an email address that is associated only with you and your business. So instead of sending email as mikesbikes@gmail.com, for example, a custom domain lets you communicate with customers as mike@mikesbikes.com. Isn’t that better? You’re darn right it is, Mike.

Why do custom domains matter for small businesses?

Okay great, a custom domain is a fancier address for your website. But why is that good for your bottom line? Let’s talk.

Branding

A custom domain is the first step toward uniting all of your contact information, addresses, business name, and more under a single, uniform brand. This helps customers recognize you, your services, and your content wherever they happen to find it, which builds trust, credibility, and authority. This is how you become a leader in your industry and niche.

Stand out online

With so many website creation services that are all basically the same, the field of competitors can start to look pretty confusing and indistinct. Stand out from the crowd with a custom domain name that only uses the words most important to your business, not the platform you pay to host it.

Memorable

We already talked about it, but this one bears repeating—a custom domain name will always be easier to remember than a string of random numbers, letters, and punctuation. It’s also easier to remember (and to say!) than an account domain name like whatever.wix.com/whatever.

Search

A custom domain name can make it easier for potential customers to search for your business online if they’ve heard about you elsewhere. 

In the simplest scenario, someone types your business name into the search bar and hits enter. Your business is the first hit in the search results because their search terms match your custom domain exactly, and you’re the only one with that domain. Nice.

However, search results from Google are ranked by an algorithm according to things like content, relevance, and keywords, so your website might not be the first result right away. But your custom domain can help with that: one factor in page rank is the presence of keywords in the web address. So if your custom domain is all keywords related to your business, with no filler words like Weebly or Notion, you’ll be more likely to rank better. Sweet.

Some excellent examples

With Durable, when you generate a small business website using the AI website generator, you have the option to create a custom domain name (for free, included with your subscription). There are thousands of Durable customers who take advantage of that perk, and a ton of pitch-perfect custom domain names have gone live. Here are just a few highlights:

  • santitorophoto.com. This unique name is great for search, it’s short, and it says what the business does. Sublime.
  • prodeliveryexpressllc.com. Fast professional delivery that is covered against liabilities. All that info is in the custom domain. Amazing.
  • poliranjeauta.com. Custom domains even work in other languages. Croatians who need “car polishing” will be stoked to see this one. Čudesno.

How to get a custom domain

If you’re wondering how to make a custom domain, there are two main ways to do it.

1. The hard way

Start by purchasing a domain name from a domain name registrar like GoDaddy or bluehost. Domains can cost anywhere from a few dollars to thousands. Why do domains cost money? Because you don’t actually own your domain name, you’re renting it from the domain registrar and the fee covers the cost of routing the name to your website. But domain names are subject to the same market forces as anything else, so rare or high value names cost more money. It’s all about demand.

You’ll then need to manually add it to your website using the tools provided by your website creation platform, which often includes making changes to the Domain Name System (DNS) server information when you log in to your domain registrar. This process is relatively straightforward when you do it with Durable, but we can’t guarantee that will be the case with services like Wix, Weebly, Notion, Mailchimp, or any of the other run-of-the-mill website creators.

2. The Durable way

Also known as the easy way. First, head on over to the Durable AI website builder and take 30 seconds to generate a complete website for your business. If you haven’t thought of a good name for your new business yet, try out the AI business name generator for inspiration.

When you’re ready, sign up for either the Startup or Pro plan and log in to your dashboard. From the menu on the left, choose Website, then click Settings on the top menu.

Scroll down to the Domain panel, where you’ll see a suggested custom domain and a search field. Either click Get it next to the suggested domain, or search for one you prefer and choose that instead.

That’s it! That’s literally the whole thing. Your custom domain is now set up and ready to use. No messing around with DNS servers or domain registrars. Just a few clicks after signing up, and you're done. Easy.

So, is a custom domain worth it?

Ten or fifteen years ago, the answer to this question would have been "sure, probably." But in 2023? That answer is a firm "Yes—absolutely." The internet's a busy place these days, and you've got to do everything you can to stand out. A custom domain that's easy to recall (and spell) is a huge win for your business.

Depending on the route you take, setting up a custom domain can be a bit of an involved process. Our take is: a custom domain is always worth it, but if you can simplify the process and save hours of admin work, that's a big win-win.

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