When a church prepares to build a website, along with all of the other tips that I have covered, a major concern is what “domain” to choose. For the technologically-backward, I’ll explain some of the terminology briefly.
A Top-Level Domain, or TLD, is .com, .net, .info, .church, .directory, .us, or any of the 735+ options that a web developer has to choose from. The most common is, of course, the .com, which is where KJV Churches is hosted. Some of the newest TLDs aren’t common yet, as some people reading this may be skeptical that .church is actually a TLD, but it is. Tons of new TLDs have been offered by ICANN, the organization responsible for regulating the internet and IP technology.
So, picking a TLD isn’t actually as complicated as it might sound. We went with a .com because of its popularity, but many churches go with .org for “organization” instead. Sometimes the availability of a domain determines what TLD you go with; if the .com isn’t available, you may choose the .org instead, though you might want to pick something that isn’t in use in any TLD.
And that brings us to the actual picking part. The “domain” is the part that comes between the “http://www.” and the “.com,” in my case, “kjvchurches” and it will be different for you. So far, we have: domain.TLD
Now, here’s where some of the internet mumbo-jumbo that I’ve been talking about comes into play. For instance, another acronym to keep in mind is “Search Engine Optimization,” SEO. SEO in a nutshell is making your site likable for search engines like Google and Bing. There are certain standards that Google likes to see, such as content, meta information, and both inbound and outbound links. The better your site conforms to these SEO standards, the more likely you will be to appear in search results for relevant content.
This week’s newsletter isn’t on specific SEO practices, as we’ve covered that before and will again, but these are things to keep in mind as you go along.
Now, what makes a good domain? Obviously, your church name should be represented. But don’t abbreviate everything. If your church is Grace Baptist Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, you don’t want your website’s domain to be “gbclv.org.” That may not be too hard to remember, if you know exactly what you’re looking for, but people looking for churches in Las Vegas don’t know to look for “gbc.” They’re looking for “independent baptist church las vegas” or “kjv baptist church las vegas nevada.” You want to think along the lines of what people are looking for, not necessarily what makes for an easy, short domain name. (You can always buy the short one too, and use that for email addresses and redirect it to the main domain, but that’s another topic.)
Instead of a short, abbreviated domain, choose one that encompasses more information about your church, but avoid using hyphens (dashes). So, instead of “gcblv.org” you should consider “gracebaptistlasvegas.org” or “gracebaptistkjvlasvegas.org” if it is available. It doesn’t look really pretty like that, but the point isn’t to look good, it’s to function correctly. You can avoid “church” if the domain would be too long with it, and you can use the State abbreviation as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rest of the domain.
So, bottom line: typically you’ll want a .org domain, and then make sure you do a little research to choose a good domain that is relevant to your church and your location. People will find you easier, Google will like you better, and your website will do its job even better.