by Greg Zuckerman | March 17 2016

Why Your Business Needs a Domain Name

"Does my business really need a domain name?"

Many small-business owners ask this question, especially when their businesses are brick-and-mortar shops that generate their sales "offline." Examples include pizza shops, auto repair shops, cafes and so on.

But make no mistake: these days it is vital for every business to have a credible online presence, regardless of what that business sells or who its customers are. This crucial online presence begins with a domain name.

Here are 5 reasons why your business needs one:

1) You need a website If you want customers who need your products or services to be able to find your business, then you must have a website. The phonebook just doesn't cut it anymore. Today, more people are searching for local (and national) businesses online. And without a website, you're making it virtually impossible for them to find you.

A good website starts with a good domain name. It's the online name for your business, which customers will use to get back to your site to learn more or contact you. If you plan on creating a website for your business, then the important first step is registering a domain name.

"But I own a scrap metal recycling business – why do I need a website or a domain?" Again, even if your business is "offline," people will be searching for you online. Chances are people in your area are searching for places to recycle their scrap metal right now. Without a website or a domain, many of them won't find you.

2) Credibility Cheap website-creator tools might allow you to use your website with a long URL that looks something like this: website-tool.com/usernamer/page/home.html. Sure, it's free – but is that really how you want to represent your business?

Having a custom domain name is invaluable for credibility. It looks professional, secure and trustworthy. If you're using some generic URL, or even a Facebook page URL as your "domain," then many customers will be wary about doing business with you.

3) Memorability When people visit your website, or hear about it elsewhere, they need to be able to remember how to get there. That’s why it's so important to have a domain name that is short and memorable. Without one, you'll be making it much more difficult for people to find your business – and thus you'll be missing out on potential visitors.

4. SEO If you're already aware of the importance of having a domain name, then you probably also know about the importance of SEO – search engine optimization. For most businesses, websites must be properly optimized with keywords related to your domain – and that applies to domain names too.

Example: If your business name is XYZ Painters, having the domain name XYZPainters.com could help you attract a lot more local visitors who are searching Google for "painters."

5) You might not get another chance Here's the bad news: the domain you already want is probably taken. But the good news is: there are likely plenty of great backup options that are still available – but they won't last forever.

Each day that you wait to purchase a great domain for your business, you increase the risk of losing that domain to someone else. Once you acquire a domain and begin actively updating your website, your domain could very well become one of your business's most valuable assets. But the first crucial step is registering it, before someone else does.