Which Internet domain name should I register?

May 15, 2005

My advice to most doctors is to use a domain name ending in .com or .net.

My general advice is to keep the URL as short and memorable as possible. Make the URL easy to spell-or reserve the commonly misspelled variants on that URL and have them automatically forwarded to your main URL. For example, my primary URL is http://www.smithlaser.com/, and for the benefit of those who are not sure how to spell "laser" I have also reserved http://www.smithlazer.com/.

Other approaches I could have used for naming my URL include using a variant of my location( http://niagaradermatology.com/), my specialty ( http://smithderm.com/), or my area of interest ( http://NiagaraBotox.com/).

The .md suffix was assigned years ago to the Republic of Moldova. ".MD" is a top-level domain name and has been licensed from the Moldovians to Domain Name Trust, a broker company based in Bonita Springs, FL, and was being marketed by Professional Domains Inc., a company based in Beverly Hills, CA, for $299 a year. After some litigation, MaxMD, a Jersey City, NJ-based company, acquired the marketing rights to the .md domain, and is now charging $150 per year for a .md URL.

The .md domain has been described as "...a special domain primarily dedicated to professionals and companies that work in the health care industry worldwide." That means a wide variety of individuals and entities could register and use domain names ending in .md-it is not just for doctors.

More affordable My advice to most doctors is to use a do-main name ending in .com or .net. These are recognized by almost all members of the public as being proper domain names, so they are less likely than an unfamiliar suffix like .md to cause confusion. Another great advantage is that .com and .net domain names can be registered for between $10 and $30 per year-a big savings over the $150 per year currently being asked for .md domain names! I would only use .md if the .com and .net variants of the domain name I wanted were already taken.

A final consideration is that .com and .net domain names are very stable, and I expect that such domain names can be easily and cheaply renewed for many years into the future. I would be concerned about trapping my brand equity in a domain name like smithlaser.md, which might not be renewable or which could only be renewed at a very high price at some point in the future.

To learn more about domain names and their management, visit http://www.domainguru.com.

Kevin C. Smith,MD,a detrmatologist in Niagara Falls,ON, Canada is a frequent lecturer on Internet-related issues.