Domain Names and Web Hosting


Selecting a Good Domain Name

Domain name selection can have a significant impact on multiple aspects of the business strategy. Various dimensions of the name should be considered before making the final purchase.

The Top Level Domain or TLD

The top level domain, or “TLD” is the portion of the name that is located at the end of the domain name. In “” the “com” portion is the top level domain. The TLD of a website’s domain has a direct impact on the marketing strategy.

TLDs and Legal Jurisdiction

The top level domain of a website determines the legal jurisdiction for dispute resolution. Depending on the business model, setting up shop in some top level domains may be an extremely risky proposition. An online casino, for example, would be well served to steer clear of TLDs in U.S. jurisdiction, such as .COM, .NET, and .ORG, since that particular business model is illegal within that jurisdiction. U.S. Federal Court judges can, and often do, regularly confiscate domains from business owners that violate U.S. Federal laws such as these.

TLDs and Direct Traffic

The top level domain has a huge impact on direct traffic (the traffic a website receives when someone types the address into their browser’s address bar). The vast majority of websites are domiciled within the .COM top level domain, which means that your visitors are more likely to type “” into their web browser’s address bar than “” or “”. This means that if you select a domain name in a TLD other than .COM and another business owns the .COM version of your domain name, you WILL lose traffic to the competing .COM website. For this reason, it is always a good idea to at least acquire “”, even if it is not your primary domain name, and have it redirect to your website.

TLDs and Geo-Targeting

Some top level domains are country specific. For this reason, search engines like Google use the TLD to aid them in determining search rankings geographically. For instance, websites domiciled within the .DE (Germany) TLD will gain a ranking boost on German search terms in A good strategy for a German business would be to acquire both the .DE and the .COM versions of a domain name and then market the .DE while setting the .COM as a redirect for web surfers that type the name into the address bar wrong.

The Second Level Domain or SLD

The second level domain or “SLD” is the portion of the domain where we create our brand name. For this website the second level domain is “wemarketyour” and the top level domain is “com” (yes we will market your .net too! ;) ). Domains containing your specific targeted key words can greatly enhance your website’s search engine rankings for those key words. Additionally, long domains and domains with dashes (“-”) will suffer reduced direct traffic as a result of web surfers’ frequent misspellings, but search engine traffic will not be adversely affected by these features.

Selecting a Domain Registrar

The Impact of the Registrar’s Jurisdiction

The domain registrar (domain provider) has authority over the domain name. The location of the registrar has an even greater impact and effect on the legal jurisdiction for domain dispute resolution than does the location of the TLD. Because of their culturally litigious nature, some jurisdictions, such as the United States, should be avoided at all costs when selecting a domain name registrar. Domain name registrars in these jurisdictions frequently cave in to legal threats from people and businesses within their own jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the nominal amount of money paid to the registrar for a domain name can never justify them putting up a legal fight to defend their customer. For legal purposes, a .DE domain name registered with a U.S. domain name registrar is located within the jurisdictions of BOTH the United States and Germany. In this case, either jurisdiction can present a legal vulnerability for the business owner, but the U.S. jurisdiction will likely present the greatest threat. A good, although not bulletproof, combination is to have a .COM domain name registered with a company that is located in a non-U.S. jurisdiction.

Dispute Resolution

Upon receiving a complaint, your registrar may terminate your domain name at a moment’s notice, even if the complaint is bogus. Some registrars have been known to lock up domains in the domain dispute process on nothing more than an attorney demand letter. Domain disputes can require years of expensive litigation to resolve, with no guarantee of a favorable outcome. Nothing is more painful to a successful online business than the sudden loss of a well marketed domain name. The result can be the total loss of the long-term benefits of a substantial internet marketing investment. As a precaution, business owners may wish to avoid registering domains with registrars that are located in high-risk jurisdictions such as the United States.

Domain Resellers

You may think you registered your domain in a particular jurisdiction, only to find out later that the company you thought was the registrar was actually a reseller for the true registrar. This can be disastrous if discovered at the start of a legal dispute. A simple guideline to detect who and where the true registrar for your domain name is, is to check the WHOIS database for your domain registrar and look at the top portion of the WHOIS data for your domain. Generally, any domain registrar that is not a reseller will have an accreditation directly from the TLD registry. For .COM domain registrars you should expect to see “ICANN Accredited” displayed prominently on the registrar’s website.

Web hosting

While certainly not as critical as selecting the domain name registrar, selecting a reliable web host that can handle the occasional traffic spike is of great importance to your internet marketing effort. While there is no such thing as 100% up time, it should be expected that the host will be live at least 99.5% of the time. If a website has substantial traffic it may justify having more than one web hosting account for redundancy. Additionally, depending upon the product or service and business location, the hosting jurisdiction may also be a consideration. For example, a German company selling products or services to local German customers may gain a ranking advantage on German search engines like when utilizing German web hosting.

A good web hosting company should be able to provide relatively inexpensive shared web hosting accounts that are well suited for smaller businesses with relatively low traffic volume (up to 500 visitors per day). Sites with substantially more traffic will need a more robust solution, such as a virtual private server (VPS), or a dedicated server.