Your domain name is [something].com (or .net, biz, etc). You use it to tell people how to get to your website and your email address ends with it. Target.com, google.com, safeco.com - those are all examples of domain names. It’s easy to tell which company owns those domains, isn’t it?
Choosing a Domain Name
Pretty much anything can make up a domain name. Unfortunately, all the obvious domain names are taken - either in use by a company already, or have been purchased way back before everyone had a website, and now are “for sale” (sometimes for outrageous prices).
However, since insurance brands are so often made up of the owners’ name(s), or the location, there’s still a chance you can find an available domain name that represents your brand well. When brainstorming potential domain names, most agents either focus on branding or SEO.
Branding - Your domain name is related to your brand. It includes some or all of your agency's name. One exception - if you’ve found a catchy domain name available that you think people will remember and associate with your brand.
SEO / Keywords - Your domain name includes the word "insurance" and your target geographic market (city or state name). This may help you rank higher on Google when people search for you and/or your product. Other related words such as "agency" or "brokers" aren't nearly as valuable as the word "insurance" since that's your product, and therefore what people will be searching for. An alternative to “insurance” could be “ins” because that’s a common abbreviation for insurance. Another reason you might go this route is if your brand is likely to change, but your target market is not.
Try to keep your domain name short. You don't want your customers to have to type out a 65 letter domain name to get to your website. However, with all the domain names already taken, it can sometimes be hard to find a good one that is as short as you'd like it, but still meets the ideal criteria.
Let's say your insurance agency, Acme Insurance is located in Dallas, Texas. For your new domain name, here are 3 choices:
However, chances are the obvious domain names like this are already taken. So you'll have to be more creative, and consider alternatives like acmeinsurancedallas.com. This is a great option because it includes your brand "acme" as well as "dallas insurance" which is a key search term. It's also not too terribly long and easy to spell. Combining the brand with the location and the word insurance is a great way to find a domain name that's not already registered.
Registering Your Domain Name
To find out whether a domain name is available, the easiest thing to do is to check with a domain registrar. Domain registrars are the companies that allow you to register (purchase) a domain name. A well known example of a domain registrar is GoDaddy. Not sure which registrar is right for you? Here are some tips to help you decide.
Right on GoDaddy's home page, you can enter the domain you'd like to register, and it will immediately tell you if it's available. If you're in luck and it's available, the annual registration fee is typically around $12/year and you can have your domain name registered within minutes right from the website.
Do You Need the Upgrades?
Domain registrars will often offer upgrades along with your registration. Most are relatively inexpensive, but there are a LOT of them, and it can be confusing to know if you really need them. Here’s a few that are often promoted.
Alternative versions of your domain
If you are registering the .com version, and the .net, .us, .org, .biz, etc are available, you’ll be asked if you want to get those too.
A case can be made to do it simply so you can prevent your competition from getting that domain name. It does not help with SEO, as you’ll just redirect them to your main website anyway.
If you do plan on purchasing multiple domain names for your insurance agency website, be sure to choose a domain registrar that doesn’t charge for domain forwarding (redirecting an alternate domain to your main domain) Some registrars charge quite a bit for this, which is crazy. GoDaddy is one registrar that does not charge for domain forwarding.
Privacy Protection options
If someone looks up the specifics of your domain (referred to the “whois” info), they will be able to see your contact info unless you opt for privacy protection (which hides this info from the public).
Having this information public could result in more spam, since your email address is publicly available. Privacy protection could keep this from being found by spammers. There are also other reasons someone may have for wanting to keep this info from being publicly available.
The important thing to know is that if you don’t opt for privacy protection, ANYONE can look up the business name, contact name, email address and phone number associated with a domain name.
If you’re comfortable with that, you can skip this upgrade.
Domain registrars almost all offer email hosting.
If you don’t already have an email hosting provider chosen (using this new domain), then having your domain registrar do it can be a simple and economic way of checking this off your list.
GoDaddy is an example of a domain registrar that offers reliable and secure email hosting.
Search Engine Visibility / SEO Options
Usually something to the effect of getting your website listed, visible, verified, etc.
Domain registrars are not know for their SEO expertise or results. Profitable success stories from SEO done by a domain registrar are not very common.
Additional Years of Registration
You can opt to register your domain year by year, or pay for multiple years up front.
Some registrars will offer a discount if you register a domain for multiple years, so it’s a good deal if you’re confident you’ll need it for the length of time they are offering.
It’s also one less thing to worry about next year.
Keep in mind if you register it for 5 years, you may forget that this is something that you need to do. Your card expires, you don’t notice all the emails from the registrar telling you to update you card and that your domain is expiring, your domain expires, and that can be very bad. So if you take advantage of the savings, be sure you set a reminder on your calendar for when you’ll need to review this again.
SSL Certificates validate your website's identity, and encrypt the information visitors send to, or receive from, your site. It's what changes HTTP to HTTPS.
Depends on your website provider:
Webtricity: No. All Webtricity websites include SSL at no additional cost.
Other Vendor: Maybe - If your website is with any other provider, you’ll want to check with them to find out how you should purchase a separate SSL certificate.
Domain Name Maintenance
Now that you have a domain name, there are a couple of housekeeping items you need to do each year. It’s very important to not skip these tasks. Your domain name is critical to your insurance agency - at least as much as your phone number, if not more. Treat it like one of your most valuable assets.
2-Factor authentication keeps your account more secure than just a username/password, which can be fairly easily compromised. If someone were to gain unauthorized access to your domain registrar account, they could wreak all kinds of havoc on your business by deleting your website, redirecting it to an unsavory website of their own, transferring the domain name to their account and holding it hostage until you buy it back from them. If your email is hosted is accessible with the same username and password, it can get even uglier.
So be sure to enable 2 factor authentication on your domain registrar account if it’s available. GoDaddy is an example of a domain registrar that offers 2-factor authentication.
Be sure to opt into auto-renewal on your domain. This means that the next time your domain registration needs to be renewed, you won't have to log into your domain registrar account and manually do it - the company will just run your credit card on file again when necessary. This ensures you won't forget to renew your domain.
Forgetting to renew your domain, and accidentally letting it expire can result in a quite a mess, starting with your website and/or email being down and (very likely) ending with having to either purchase a completely new domain and start over on all your SEO efforts, or spending a large sum of money to purchase your domain name back from someone who swiped it up the moment it expires (yes people actually do that).
Update Your Credit Card
Be sure to check your credit card on file each year. If your card expires or you get a new card, then you obviously need to update it everywhere. Domain registrars are often overlooked at the time you get the new card because they are used so infrequently. It’s best to set a yearly reminder to check on it in case you forget to do it when you received a new card.
Update Your Contact Info
Even if you opted for Privacy Protection, you need to be sure that the contact info you have on file with your domain registrar is up to date. Your registrar company will use your contact info on file to notify you of any important or suspicious activity on your account.
Now that you know all there is to know about choosing and registering a domain name, it's time to build a new insurance agency website.
If you're looking for something professional, effective, affordable, and fast, Webtricity is the best solution for you.
Build a beautiful website for your insurance agency in 15 minutes or less, with no setup cost and an affordable monthly price. Get started AND go live today!