When I started writing Clinics in the Cloud, “Presence: Your online business platform” was the first section I wrote. This section includes a discussion of domain names. Prior to that, I’d written a blog post and other articles about choosing a good domain name for private practice.
In the past I would recommend opting for recognised domain extensions, such as .com or country-specific versions such as .com.au. Main reason behind this was their universal acceptance and recall due to their inherent commercial tags (“com” for commercial). Often, businesses would choose other alternatives such as .net or .org, when the more desired .com options were not available. However these other domain types don’t offer the same benefits for private practice.
In response to growing and changing needs, ICANN (the global authority for domain names) has laid out a plan to introduce new types of domain names to increase the pool of available domains and better represent various industries and interest groups. Some of the recent approvals to the domain types (technically known as TLDs: Top Level Domains) include:
There are hundreds of others becoming available (if not available already) and even more under evaluation. Although they are not commonplace yet, the recognition, acceptance and popularity of these domains are sure to grow. Unlike the ubiquitous .com, these new profession-specific domains will provide clarity for their industry and relevance for their clients.
As a private practice owner, you would be wise to grab a new domain name for your business, even if you already have one that your competitors would kill for. A domain with your suburb/town is a great place to start (such as santamonica.dentist or carlton.physio) – since these are typically your most sought after keywords in search engine placements.
Even if you a professional in your field and do not own a private practice, you may (should) want to reserve a domain name (such as johndoe.doctor).
Be quick – if you missed out on a good domain name before, you’d know what it feels like. If you are confused or need guidance, get in touch with your web developer.
PS: When new domain types are added, they typically go through a release process, where owners of trademarks or key organisations are given the opportunity to register their domains before the registration is open to the public. Registrations during this phase can be confusing, but persevere.
PPS: Domain name registration fees can differ greatly from one registrar to the next. Do your research and shop around.