Let’s say you’re founding a start-up business to rent out boats and you’re looking to give it a really cool name. But before you fall in love with your new name, you should first check whether the corresponding domain is available. If so, the strategic work is just beginning.

We could give you plenty of tips on naming here, but there are skilled experts who specialize in such things and we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Still, there are decisions you can make right from the start. For example, whether you want an imaginative name (Shenandoah LLC, etc.) or prefer a more descriptive name such as Thompson Boat Rental LLC (although the latter is certainly a bit dull). In the case of imaginative names, you should first ask yourself whether you will always have to spell it out when talking to people on the phone. If so, forget it. That is, unless you’re planning to immediately establish a global corporation that will be added to the dictionary in the future (like the verb ‘to google’, for example). But Shenandoah would be such a lovely name, wouldn’t it? It was once the name of an American four-masted barque and hiring something like that would certainly be a dream! But please don’t forget about your poor phone operators or the many Internet users who can’t spell the name correctly either. Besides, the name is already used in many other places. So pick something else. Maybe one of the gods of the sea? Nereus, Poseidon, Neptune? All of them already taken. Huixtocihuatl? Huh? Mazu? Tangaora You’re getting closer…

Tangaora dot-com: your general domain strategy
You might actually want to position your boat rental company internationally. In that case, the Maori god of the sea Tangaora would be an excellent namesake. The URL tangaora.com is still available. So seize the day and reserve it now! It will allow you to pursue a clean, global general domain strategy. A good choice, since you’re less likely to become overwhelmed if you work with a brand/domain focus. After all, you’ll only need to operate one domain. Users find everything under a single address. Simply add links to other country and language versions (tangaora.com/de, tangaora.com/fr, tangaora.com/ch/de) and you will ultimately have a website with lots of relevant content. Google will consider the site to be quite relevant. And you can easily profile yourself by using a single design.

Do it just like Wikipedia? Subdomain strategy
Wikipedia will have its reasons for choosing this strategy. For a globally active enterprise, there’s certainly nothing wrong with it. In your case, Tangaora.com is your only domain, so you can add country code prefixes (ch.thompson.com, de.tangaora.com and li.tangaora.com for the branches in Vaduz) to create separate sites for the different countries. It’s immediately clear to every visitor where the branch is located, the subdomains can be hosted in the respective country if necessary, no one can snatch a country-specific domain from under your nose, and the different languages and countries can be clearly separated. Disadvantage: everyday users just aren’t very fond of these types of domain names. When they look for a page in Switzerland, they would rather see .ch at the end instead of at the beginning. That’s just what they’re used to.

Domain strategy: names and endings

Dot-ch: country-specific domain strategy
You are, of course, also afraid that Tangaora Boat Rental won’t grow very fast. So you consider country-specific domains that you can build up over time, such as .ch, .li, .fr, etc. All of these are still available to your company. That’s great for you, because you can now reserve tangaora.ch, tangaora.de and tangaora.eu (for your Europe-wide business). If you operate in several countries at the same time, that’s a good strategy to pursue. It will be easier to find you in the local search results. You can also create a site modified specifically for each country (and in the local style). Steamers here, sailing yachts there and reed boots somewhere else… You’ll get lots of clicks for each country-specific site – probably even more than you would with a .com site. And this will also be rewarded by Google. Every URL is simple – and easy to remember. Local patriots (and there are plenty of them around) prefer clicking on country-specific domains. You have multiple domains that can be found far up in the rankings. And so forth. It simply works – even though link building is a bit more difficult, operating several sites is somewhat more expensive, and acquiring domains is not equally simple in all countries.

This is where things get interesting: new generic top level domains (GTLD)
You’re probably not the first boat rental company to jump on this bandwagon. Find out whether there are local and new top-level domains for your branch locations: tangaora.zurich, .berlin, .cologne, etc. If you want to establish yourself as the boat rental specialist, choose tangaora.guru or tangaora.expert. Or how about tangaora.holiday or tangaora.voyage? Or tangaora.solar if you’re renting solar-powered boats? There are numerous options and many new ones emerging all the time. The one fly in the ointment is that these new domains are still generally quite expensive. Also, users aren’t yet familiar with these domain endings. But at least you’ll be able to call one (or more) of these highly exclusive URLs your own!

Objection, Mr. Thompson!
Suddenly someone pipes up from the back of the room: “What were you saying about descriptive URLs?” Oh, that’s right. We almost forgot. Ultimately, you have to help Mr. Google a little, so that he can help you. All of the strategies described above are great if your business already enjoys a certain level of familiarity among potential customers – especially if Tangaora has become internationally synonymous for boat rental, much like Hertz has for car rentals. Then that will work great.

But it’s a bit different when you’re a start-up based in Rapperswil (and perhaps want to expand your business to the affluent northeastern shore of Lake Zurich – the golden coast – at some point). Then you’ll probably miss the mark a bit with your exotic Tangaora thing, because people will google ‘boat rental’ and ‘Lake Zurich’ or ‘Rapperswil’, of course. In this case, you might even benefit from choosing a boringly normal URL like thompson-boat-rental.ch. After all, Google also likes URLs that describe exactly what users will find on the actual site. And someday people will also know to rent boats from Thompson’s when they go to Lake Constance. So when they enter Thompson Boat Rental, you’ll be the king of the local search results. Guaranteed! Whichever way you choose to go about all of this, we hope you have fun selecting a name and working out your domain naming strategy.

Domain strategy: names and endings

Sandro Bertschinger

He didn't find computers very interesting for quite some time. An Amiga 500 as a games machine was the high point at that time. Computers began to move into his focus with the advent of the internet and the possibility of building cool websites. In 2001, he crossed paths with an internet company by coincidence.

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