Choose A Domain

How to Choose and Buy a Domain for your Town

You may find that when you begin your search for a town website domain, the one that makes the most sense has already been taken. In choosing a slightly different domain, some towns have opted to use complicated addresses in lieu of the ubiquitous “.com,” however these can be difficult for users to remember. If the address you want for your town website is already taken, it’s not a good idea to simply purchase whatever else is offered to you by the provider. Instead take a moment, think about your options, and come up with the best alternative before you buy a domain for your town office.

Obtaining a Unavailable .Com

Although the .com for your town may be taken already, you shouldn’t immediately abandon all hope of having it for your office. In some cases, the address may have been claimed by a citizen that meant to develop it and never got very far in the process. Take a look at the website and if it hasn’t been published or updated recently, you might be able to buy it from the current owner. If the site is currently being updated regularly by its existing owner, it still never hurts to ask if you can buy it and take over the administration.

Working Within the Available .Coms

If your town is named after a President, chances are good that the .com is already claimed. In this case, there are a few options open to you, the most popular of which is to put the word “town” in front of the address. You can also put the abbreviation of your State after the name of your town. Get creative and you’ll be able to find a viable .com option for your town’s website.

For example:

http://townoflincolnvilas.com/ (uses the county name “Vilas” in the domain name)
http://townoflincolnwc.com/ (uses an abbreviation for “Wood County”)
http://albanywi.org/ (used the two letter abbreviation for “Wisconsin”)

Good Alternatives for .Com

Most domain providers do automatically offer buyers an alternative address if the initial .com address is not available. To buy a domain that works, you’ll need to consider abbreviations of a state and country, or .gov, .org, .net, .biz, and .info. Many two- and three-letter domains are available, some with restrictions. A .pro website, for example, is only available for actual professionals that can prove their credentials.

In some cases, it’s possible to use an extra letter or number in the body of the web address, however this isn’t a good idea for an official town website since it can be confusing and unprofessional. Generally speaking, it is sometimes okay to use a locality domain (e.g. http://www.town.oregon.wi.us/) or a simple .org or .us in place of a .com. However I heard that many clerks do not like having to say a locality domain name because it is long, confusing, hard to remember, and will be difficult for a resident to remember. In many cases the town will get a .com or .org domain name to pair with the locality domain.

.Gov is another good choice, however these domains are managed through the Federal government and are more expensive than other options at around $125/year. If you do have your heart set on a .gov domain name, you’ll need to fill out an application and be patient as the paperwork gets approved. More info about a .gov domain name can be viewed at the General Service Administration (GSA) website.

.Gov Domain

.Gov is another good choice, however these domains are managed through the Federal Government and are usually the most expensive option. They are currently $125/year, but they are set to get even more expensive. The price is increasing to $400 per year in January, 2017. The advantage of a .gov address is the legitimacy it gives your brand. It comes with the government seal of approval and many top-level federal agencies share the brand. If you do have your heart set on a .gov domain name, you’ll need to fill out an application and be patient as the paperwork gets approved. More info about the registration process can be viewed at the General Service Administration (GSA) website. We also have a more detailed blog post about .gov domains.

Before You Buy that Domain

There are innumerable domain hosts through which you can buy your town’s website address. Before making your choice, it’s important to cross-reference the pricing schemes and consider which add-ons you may benefit from having included. If you simply want the website address and nothing else, make sure that the vendor you are dealing with isn’t charging you for anything extra. Website builders and special features are commonly packaged together with the purchase of a website, but of course the price is higher that way.

Check, check, and check again! Your town website should have a name that is logical and easy to remember, and the purchase shouldn’t cost more for unnecessary extras.

Image from SEOPlanter

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