Establishing your business online is a vital step in expanding your customer base by informing people of the goods and services you provide and giving them an easy way to contact you. Registering a domain name and creating a website is a huge component in getting this online presence established for your business in Canada.
A domain name is used to identify a particular web page or URL, registering a domain name gives you access to use that URL for your website. Either an organization or individual can register domain names. But, before you go ahead and register your domain name, there are a few common questions you will want to ask.
1. Do I need a domain name?
Only you can make the decision whether or not a domain name is an important component of your business plan. However, you will want to consider the potential for growth that registering a domain name and creating your website will have on your business. When people are looking for a particular product or service, almost all will begin that search online. If you haven’t created your website, you could be missing out on these potential customers.
You may have a presence on social media platforms, which is an important component in creating your online presence, but there are limitations to what you may be able to provide on those platforms. Having a website lets you give detailed information about what you offer and, if you have an online store, customers can order directly from there.
2. Can a domain name help my business grow?
Essentially, the vision you have for your business and its future should be reflected in the chosen domain name. A domain name like ‘www.weddingplanner.com’ is great if you only ever plan to keep your business focus on planning weddings. However, in the future if your plan is to broaden your scope to include a variety of event planning services, this may not be the most effective domain name to help facilitate that growth, and a more general ‘www.eventplanner.com’ might be a better choice.
Setting out your business plan before you register your domain name can help you decide the best option for choosing the perfect domain name to help your business grow in the direction you envision.
3. Can someone take my domain name?
If you pay for domain registrations, you become the domain name registrant and no one else can have that domain name unless you, as the domain holder, transfer domain ownership or sell the domain name to them. However, you will have to keep paying annually to ensure the domain registration stays in your name. If you don’t keep up with paying your renewal registration fee and renew your domain, your expiry date will pass and anyone else will be able to get that domain name registered in their name. If you’ve established a recognizable domain name, you will want to ensure that you’re renewing your domain registrations on time. Otherwise, someone else can take it, build their website on it and use all of the hard work you’ve put into building and establishing a recognizable domain name along with all the advertising and marketing tools you have invested in. Protection is available through domain locking, to prevent transferring your domain mistakenly.
4. What is the difference between a domain name and a website?
The domain is the URL that users will enter to find your website. The website content still needs to be built once that domain is registered. Essentially, the domain name is like a notebook, and your website are the words and images you create to fill the notebook. The domain name, website name and business name can each be different or can all be the same, depending on how you want to set it up. Ontario Business Central can search and register your .com or .ca domain name, so your website content can be plugged in. Creating your website content can be done using a web design professional, or on your own using an easy to use site builder.
You can search for a free site builder or look for a paid plan with more advanced features. Your website content can easily be altered without impacting the domain name. If your customers are providing personal information or making purchases on your website, you will want to seriously consider using an SSL Certificate. This digital security feature encrypts data entered on your website, providing a layer of protection for a fairly nominal fee. Your website will still be operational without an SSL Certificate, however Google will warn your customers that the website is not secure, and you leave yourself and your customers open to being hacked. Google will also give a higher ranking to those websites that include an SSL Certificate over those who do not.
5. What is the importance of having a domain name?
There are a few reasons why it’s important for your business to register a chosen domain. Perhaps the most important reason is that your domain name won’t have to change if you decide to change website hosting services, which is essentially where your website is parked and stored online. It is important to have consistency with your domain, especially if you have an ecommerce website, so that customers can easily find you and return using the same website name. If you think of your car as the website hosting company, the licence plate on your car is the unique domain name that identifies your car. Regardless of whether you buy a new car down the road, the licence plate always remains the same. So, if you decide to sign up for hosting using a different website hosting plan, your domain name would remain the same and would simply be transferred to the new hosting company.
Another important factor in having a domain name is that it lends credibility to your business, where it is seen as more established and legitimate. When a business neglects to register a domain name, customers may think twice about doing business with them.
One additional important component in becoming a domain registrant is that if your domain name is registered as something easy to type, easy to pronounce and also helps describe your business activity, it can make it easier to remember and easy for people to find you. Using highly searched keywords within your chosen domain may also help with boosting your SEO rankings.
6. What is a domain name extension?
Simply put, the domain extensions are the ending component of the website address, which typically identifies the type of domain or country code. In registering your domain name, you may want to consider if the country code is an important factor in the overall name. For example, .com domains indicate commercial websites and .edu domain extensions are for educational institutions. Country code domain extensions, such as a .ca domain name, indicate a Canadian registration. If you are trying to specifically target Canadian shoppers or make it more apparent that you are a business in Canada, you may want to consider using a .ca domain name. Oftentimes, businesses will register a number of variations to their domain extensions, to ensure that their domain name is fully protected and registered to them. For example, domains registered may include carplate.ca, carplate.com, and carplate.co.
7. How long should l register for?
When registering your domain name, you have the option to set a longer timeframe. The longer timeframe you go out when registering your domain, a 5 year plan versus annual plans, the more authority the domain receives from Google and other search engines. If you can afford to pay the registration fee for the longer duration up front, it’s more beneficial in the long run.
8. What should I register first, my business name or my domain name?
Which should be registered first all depends on the vision for your own business and how important it is for both the business name and domain name to correlate. If you first register the business name, then find out that the same domain name is not available, you will have to choose something different. The same is true if the domain name is registered first and then finding out the business name you want to use is not available. This could result in you registering multiple domains and spending more money and time than necessary. For better Google ranks and SEO search results, the domain and company names should match.
A good idea is to first pre-search the business name and domain name for potential conflicts to see if either is already registered. You can include these searches with your business and domain registrations, and Ontario Business Central will search both and send results, so you can decide if you want to make changes to either. If either the business name or domain name is taken, you may consider changing one or both and doing a new search. You can also double check that this is available by searching Whois Lookup or other accredited domain registrars. The Whois Lookup directory will show if the domain name is registered, as well as the creation date and expiry date. In some cases, it will also show the name and contact information of the current domain registrars. If both the business name pre-search and domain search have no conflicts and the domain name is available, Ontario Business Central can help get the business registered on that same day.
SMALL BUSINESS REGISTRATION
Corporations can also be registered on the same day, if you want to choose this option:
REGISTERING A CORPORATION
9. How can I register my domain name?
Ontario Business Central offers domain name search and registration services both as an option for business registrations and incorporations, and on its own as a separate service. When a domain name registration is submitted, we will first search to see that the domain is available. You will be notified if unavailable, and given the chance to register a different domain name, and if it was included together with a business registration or incorporation, you can also provide a new business name if you prefer to have the business name match the domain name. For more information about the rules for registration, you can reference The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). As a not-for-profit organization, The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), seeks to provide a better online experience for Canadian shoppers and businesses.
Do some research before you go ahead and register your domain name. You can save yourself a lot of time, money and stress in the long run by taking the time to first sit down to take a look at the common domain name questions, evaluate your business plan and the vision you have for the future of your business.
Please feel free to reach out to our staff for any clarification or assistance you may require.
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Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.
Lisa is one of the corporate specialists at Ontario Business Central. She joined the team in 2018. Lisa has since been specializing in Non Profit/Charitable organization, Western Provinces registrations and incorporations, foreign corporations registering in Ontario and much more. Lisa offers her readers insights by providing helpful tips and assistance for entrepreneurs looking to register and grow their business. Her goal is to provide awareness, business ideas and how to guides. After completing her B.A. in Communications and Sociology at York University, Lisa started her own online business and took her passion for writing into the freelance world of sports writing for more than a decade. Lisa has a unique perspective as a business owner herself and understands the trials and triumphs associated with starting and running a business. Lisa strives to provide the highest level of service to each and every client she works with. You can follow Lisa on LinkedIn or she can also be reached at [email protected] | 1-416-599-9009 ext. 227