Getting The Right Domain Name For Your Practice
When you are starting a new practice, or if you are going to rebrand your practice, there are so many things to consider. What do I call it? Do I want to brand it with my name, or build a new and unique brand? What will my logo look like? Does my logo say what I want it to say about me and my office? All of these questions take some serious consideration and make a huge impact in how patients experience your brand. But one questions that a lot of people seem to overlook is the name of the website they will use for their brand. While it may seem like a minor decision, your domain name can make some big impacts in brand recognition, the ability of patients to find your website, and it can even make changes to your search rankings.
In an ideal world, your practice name, logo, and domain name would be one in the same. This is what I consider to be the golden standard. Think of most major brands, and you will notice that by and large, they have the brand name as part of the logo and they own the exact domain name of their brand. While this may seem difficult to accomplish, it can be done at a local level for a dentist or orthodontist.
For instance, one of our clients in Spokane has the business HI 5 Orthodontics. All of their branding, from the logo to the marketing materials, says HI 5 Orthodontics. The domain name for their practice is Hi5Ortho.com, however they also own the site Hi5Orthodontics.com, which redirects to Hi5Ortho.com. They have also claimed their social media profiles, and managed their online business listings so it is 100% consistent. All of this means that once someone in the Spokane area has heard the name of the practice, it is very easy to find their information online, no matter what search engine or site they use
Why does it matter if my brand doesn’t match my practice information?
If you find that your information does not match with your domain name, you may think to yourself “what is the problem?” One of the most common issue that we see with completely unique domain names is brand confusion, which makes it hard to remember the site, practice name, or in some cases both. For instance, you may be practicing under a business name like Gentle Dentistry, but the online business listings and domain name are under the name of the doctor, such as DrSmithDentalDDS.com. You may be wondering why this is such a big problem. As a new patient, if someone suggests they should go to Gentle Dentistry, but your website and online listings all refer to Dr. Smith, they may not continue looking for your practice because it is too hard to find, or they will find themselves at the wrong website. Many patients may also feel like they have the wrong information if they see a listing for Gentle Dentistry, but the URL points them to something else. Once they feel unsure of what practice they should use, patients often look at online reviews and other factors to make their decision. If patients are choosing between what they consider to be two good practices, the practice that gets more patients is the practice that is easier to find and set up an appointment, and has better online reviews. If your referrals can’t find you easily, you may be losing patients to your competitors.
What if I have a long practice name?
While HI 5 Orthodontics is a best case scenario, not every situation is the same. For instance, some practice names are quite long, and may be difficult for patients to type in. If your practice name was River Creek Family Dental Clinic, that would not be an ideal domain name as that is a lot of text to remember. You may also come across problems with a name that can be hard to spell. While the people of Coeur d’Alene probably know how to spell the name of the city, you may get people who misspell or include invalid characters, especially for new move ins that are less web savvy.
Because length and difficulty can be problematic, you may look at identifiers for your URL, or areas where an abbreviation is acceptable. A common shortening of Coeur d’Alene is CDA, and there are many practices in the area that use terms like CDA dental or Family Dental CDA in their URL. While this makes it easier to remember and type, you should also be cautious to not overuse this principle. If you were go with CDAFamDent.com for the practice Coeur d’Alene Family Dental that is almost harder to remember and type in than if you spelled everything out. Keep in mind you want it to be as easy as possible for people to get to your site directly.
What should I do if my practice name is already taken?
Because there are now over 200,000 dental practices in the US, there are going to be a lot of practices that are already using your perfect website address. Not every practice has the option of getting the exact URL they want for their website. You may also find that the domain name is available, but it is extremely expensive. To give some examples, here are a few of the higher end domain names that available with the standard .com extension as of this wiriting:
- Gentaldentaldentistry.com - $2,999.00
- Pearldentalclinics.com - $2,295.00
- Family-dental.com - $1,288.00
- FamilyDentalCareClinic.com - $888.00
While you may be able to justify some of those costs if that is the exact name of your practice, and you are in a larger market, that is still a lot of money when you consider that unclaimed domain names typically costs about $12.
Another option that some people may look at is using other extensions, such as .net or .org, and even the new ones like .dental or .io. These can be a great option if your standard name is taken or too expensive, but they also have their drawbacks. Unique domain extensions are often costlier than standard domain names, even if they are not being used. These domain also have higher annual fees, which means you will continually have to pay for the luxury of using that URL.. Again, here are some examples along with the fees associated with them.
- FamilyDental.co - $788.00
- CDA.Dental - $500.00
- Great.dental - $249.99 per year
- Spokane.dental - $249.99 per year
These can provide a great option to make sure that your practic is branded down to the URL. The biggest drawback with these URLS is that many users are still unfamilar with URL extensions. All users should be familiar with .com addresses, but many are still unsure about how extensions like .dental or .io work. There is always the possibility of losing patients because they when to the wrong domain name, the decided to go looking for another practice.
Are there any other domain name options?
If these do not seem like viable options, there are alternatives. You can add an identifier to your URL based on your city. In the example of gentle dental, you could use gentledentalcda.com if you were in Coeur d’Alene. While it is slightly longer, it can make your site have a more local focus. If the name of your city does not have a clever shortening, you may even use a state abbreviation, such as ID or WA. These can be included at the front or end of a URL, depending on your city, and may make it even more relevant to the person searching for your practice.
While we have focused on being entirely targeted to your practice name, there is an exception to that rule. Some domain names may be available that are so specific to what you do and your location, that it is worth more to you as a domain, even if it does not match your brand. For instance, lets imagine you are an orthodontist in Spokane, practicing as gentle orthodontics. Gentleorthodontics.com may be available at a very high cost, but you find that SpokaneOrtho.com is available. While not branded to your practice, this domain name is highly valuable. It is relevant to your audience, both for your service and your location. It is easy to understand and type in when people go to your site. It also can also potentially help you to rank higher in search results.*
What should I do if I am still not sure what to do?
Making these decisions are not easy, and you may find that there are more options than you previously thought. If you are trying to decide how to rebrand, or if you are looking to start a new practice, our branding experts are willing to help you in developing a brand and experience that is memorable. We can also help you to find a domain name that best serves your purposes based on your location and brand. Contact us for more information to see how we can help you to ignite your website through your domain.