When it comes to building a website, you need a domain name. It's what people will type into Google when they are searching for your farm and it should match the brand you want to emphasize and take control of on the internet. A domain name is not the website. It's more like an address you buy and use to point to your website.
For instance, I own donschindler.com and it points to my WordPress blog. Other farmers have their farm brand, such as DairyCarrie.com or TDFhonestfarming.com, while others choose to do their farm's name lowercase, like threemilecanyonfarms.com or mackinsondairy.com.
If you add "dairy" or "farm" to the name you select, it can help Google understand what your website will be about. Using only abbreviations does not help Google understand the domain very well, but you won’t have to worry about people typing in the domain like they used to. Now, people just search to find a website and don't worry much about typing the domain name correctly into the browser.
It's pretty simple to buy a domain name. Just go to a provider, such as Google Domains, GoDaddy, Namecheap, Hover,or IONOS. They can range from $8 a year to more than $30, depending on the provider. I don't recommend one over the other, but be careful of add-ons that you don't need, like a private registrar or domain protection.
You may want to use your domain for your email address as well. Most domain providers have that system built in, but you'll have to set it up and pay their monthly or yearly fee.
Should you use a dot com?
It's up to you. Dot Com is a top-level domain and was meant for commercial businesses back in the day, which is why it was so popular. Now, there are many different top-level domains (TLDs) like .farm or .bio. It's up to you, but some of the more expensive TLD's don't do much for the domain itself. Being found in a search is more about the content on your website versus the domain name.
Once you have the domain name, the next step in building a website is selecting the web content management system. I'll walk you through selecting a system in another blog post.
Are you a dairy farmer who needs help getting started in social media and connecting with consumers? Your local and national dairy checkoff can help. Please reach out to them via dairy.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to learn more about your national dairy checkoff, you can join our Facebook group or visit dairy.org.
The author is a Senior Vice President of Digital Initiatives at Dairy Management Inc.