Business Name vs Domain Name

By Steve

August 20, 2020

Before You Pick a Name

Before you think of a name for your business you must consider a much larger naming issue. 

That issue is your domain name.  Or the name your business will be known as on the Internet.

Business Name

A business name is state specific, for example, let’s say you live in Portland, Maine and you want to name your company “Portland HandyMan Services”.  Since businesses are registered at the state level, it is possible for your company to have the same name as a business in a different state. For example “Portland HandyMan Services” based in Portland, Oregon.

So even if there is another business with the same name in Portland, Oregon you can still register “Portland HandyMan Services” with the Secretary of State in Maine.  For the most part having the same name as another business in a different state is not a problem.  

Domain Name

However, having the same name as another business in another state is an issue if you want a web presence. If you want potential customers to be able to find you on the internet, having the same name as a business in another state can be an issue.

A domain name is global.  For those unfamiliar with a domain name, it is the name you get for a website.  Since websites are registered world wide, website must have globally unique names.  

So in the above example if you wanted the name “Portland HandyMan Services”, but the business in Oregon already registered it you will not be able to get it online.  This brings forth the awkward situation where you have a local business name different from your web name. 


Before you choose a business name search first to see if it is available online. 

Do this by visiting Google Domains.  Type in the name you would like to use and it will either be available or not.  

After you find a Domain name you like then go to your Secretary of State website and see if the name is available in your state. 

I recommend picking your Domain name first then your Legal State name.

As far as business names go follow these rules:

A business name should reflect what your business does.

  • “PortlandHandyManServices” vs “PrometheusServicesofPortland”
  • The above implies it is a handyman services based out of Portland.

Keep it as short as possible.  Short names are easier to remember. 

  • “PortlandHandyMan” vs “PortlandHandymanPaintingandConstruction”
  • You want customers to remember you so they can tell others.  Shorter the name the easier to remember and tell others.

Do not use numbers unless absolutely necessary.

  • "PortlandHandyMan" vs "PortlandHandyman123"
  • If you are having to resort to numbers it means someone else has the main name.  This leads to customers typing in the name without the numbers and thus taking your customers to your competitor's site.

Try to use a .Com extension. 

  • “” vs “ or biz or tv
  • Customers will only remember “Portland HandyMan” and assume it is .com this will only take them to your competitor or upset them if they can’t find your site.
  • If you absolutely need to use another extension be very clear when telling customers the extension.  Otherwise they will end up at a competitors site.  

Try another name.  

  • If the name you want is not available try moving the words around.  Instead of "PortlandHandyMan" try "HandyManOfPortland", or add "Services" to it like "PortlandHandyManServices", or put the state abbreviation in the name "PortlandHandyManOR", basically just get creative. 

Your business name is taken

  • For those who already have a business name and want to develop an online presence but find your name is already taken then try to find something as close as possible. If your business name is "Portland Handy Man" try "PortlandHandyManOfOregon", or add "Services" to it like "PortlandHandyManServices".

Avoid Confusion

The primary reasons for having an easy to remember name is to make it easy to contact you.  It is harder for people to remember numbers such as your phone number.  Having an easy to remember name means that customers can look you up by name and find your contact info.

Imagine the confusion for a customer when your legal business name is Portland Handyman but your online name is "MNHandyManPortland".


Choose your business name wisely.  Think ahead, you may think you will not need the internet for your type of business, but in today's business environment 90% of consumers do some form of research before making a purchase or selecting a service.  

If you have had a business name for many years and now want to develop an online presence, but your business name is taken, see if a domain name with a state abbreviation is available. 

You never know where the future leads, however, in regards to marketing on the internet take steps accordingly.

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