Tips in Choosing the Right Domain Name
Your domain name is a lot like a company name, or your own name, for that matter. It is what people see when they look up your business online, and with proper thought and consideration, you can choose a name that adds value to your online identity.
Ideally, your domain name should be smart, catchy, and easy to remember. Your audience should have an easy time locating your domain online, and they shouldn’t have any reservations about promoting it on their own networks.
But how do you go about choosing the right domain name for your business? Some people are just lucky and wake up one morning with a snappy name for their website and it turns out to be successful and perfectly suited for their business.
However, for most of us, choosing a successful domain name takes a lot of thought and consideration. Let’s review some of the more basic things about choosing a domain name and explore the main areas of concern for the business and also for the website’s performance online.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is a web address (URL) or a location that directs online traffic to a specific IP address where people can access your website from any device in a rather convenient way.
By entering this domain name on their browser, any person can visit your website and have access to a ton of material and relevant resources including information about your business, product or service, and contact information.
Some examples of domain names are: www.google.com, www.us.gov, www.change.org, www.hope.net, www.workaway.info, among others.
The name you choose for your domain will have a direct impact on things like click-through rate, referral links, search, social media results, type-in traffic, and advertising. Your domain name impacts your brand and online marketing in profound ways; and as such, proper measures must be taken to ensure that the impact is mainly positive.
So what should your domain name look like?
Choose something memorable and brandable
Choose something that your online audience will likely remember, not a complicated name or a sentence. This is where it helps to have some creativity.
Most people appreciate a short, neat web address because it’s easier to type on the browser and also easier to remember. It is not recommended to use slang or to shorten words to the point that that they lose their meaning.
Remember, you should be making it easier for everybody to remember your domain name, and not everyone appreciates acronyms and abbreviations.
What does it mean to make your domain name brandable? It means that when people hear or see the domain name, they immediately associate it with your brand. This naturally means that numbers and strange symbols are not appropriate because they are not associated with any serious brands.
When choosing the address, keep in mind that visitors will take longer to enter the numbers and symbols into their browsers and will have a difficult time remembering the name. One solution is to make the domain name your company name or combine your own name with a brief description of your website.
For example, if your name is Jason Grey and your website will be used to showcase photography, you might name it www.jasonphotography.com or www.greyphotography.com or www.greyphotolab.com. Try to keep the domain name short and to the point.
Use words that promote your brand and the services you offer
If your focus is photography, for example, make sure to include such a word in the domain name. Your customers will have an easier time remembering the name and it makes sense to have the domain name focus on the business.
From an SEO perspective, having keywords in your domain name helps to promote your rankings with the search engines and makes it obvious to the visitor what the website is about.
Keep in mind, though, that it’s not easy to get a keyword-rich domain name that doubles as your business name or brand name. Google also has been known to bias against such exact-match domains.
You can avoid being biased by broadening up the keywords a bit. However, if you can come up with a keyword mention in the domain name that doesn’t send the wrong associations to the search engines, go for it. For example, a domain like www.buypastaonline.com may not be as successful as something broad like www.gusto.com. It is a subtle association because gusto means taste in Italian.
The same goes for global brands like Amazon.com and Google.com. The domain names appear to be random names without any links to the actual brands, but nonetheless they are still very well branded, even though they don’t have any keyword richness to them.
Use a .com domain
Domain name extensions are important because they can add value to a website by making it seem more accessible and trustworthy to visitors. Research has shown that .com TLDs (top level domains) are by far the most recognizable online, and also the most trusted. The challenge is to find an available domain name in .com.
There are, however, a number of top extensions that one can go with when creating a business website, but the key is to make the TLD relevant to your brand.
- .co: this is commonly used in in company websites, but also community websites
- .info: exclusively used for informational purposes
- .net: used on technical and internet infrastructure websites
- .biz: commercial websites (e-commerce sites).
- .org: non-profit organizations.
- .me: used in blogs and other personal websites.
The internet has been around for over two decades but most people are still stuck on .com extensions. Part of this is the familiarity that it holds for internet users, and of course the assumption that a .com website has been around for a while and isn’t necessarily a passing fad. This comfort and familiarity that domain name extensions hold means a lot in business.
For somebody creating a new business website, it would probably be more beneficial to find and own a .com extension that connects with the brand. But due to the sheer number of domains using this extension, it’s usually a hassle to find one available for commercial use.
The alternative is to settle for an extension that plays well into the business, and one that can be used for marketing purposes. You can, for example, use a country extension (such as .us or .ca) for your website if you believe it can help promote the business abroad.
Avoid numbers and symbols
As mentioned above, numbers and symbols can easily be misunderstood, and when people hear the name of the website it may not be immediately clear whether you’re using a numeral (3) or it’s spelled out (three). Similarly, underscores and dashes are sometimes confusing especially with new visitors. They can easily be misplaced or forgotten entirely.
One option is to register several variations of your domain name so that visitors are automatically directed to your main website when they misplace those minor elements; however, this might not be possible for startups and individuals operating on a limited budget.
Make the domain name pronounceable so that people can remember it in conversation. Remember, people have a natural cognitive bias where we have positive associations with things that we can easily say and think about. People should be able to say the domain name in their own minds in order to repeat it in conversation.
Use a domain name generator
If you lack in inspiration, there are tools that you can use to generate potential domain names. In most cases, you will simply enter one or two words (or names) that you would like to include in the domain name or use as a guide for creating the name. You can try different combinations of words and names to see which one comes out appropriate.
Before you settle on a name, make sure it isn’t copyrighted or being used by another business. Using a trademarked name can result in a messy lawsuit that could cost you the domain and all your money.
You can check out www.leandomainsearch.com or www.wordoid.com for ideas on domain names.
Check for trademark availability on social media
The laws for trademark infringement are clearly spelled out. If the name you choose for your domain happens to sound a lot like an existing trademarked brand name, a judge can rule against you in court. When starting out, it’s wise to check all social media platforms for your chosen domain name and its variations just to make sure that no businesses are using it.
The reasoning behind this is that most businesses need social media to promote their brands and ideas, and it makes sense that they would register their domain names on multiple social media platforms for maximum visibility.
As a business owner, you are likely to use these same platforms to promote your own business, and as such, this should be one of the first places you check for domain name availability.
Start with the most obvious, like Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin, as these carry millions of businesses and brand names on their platforms. The most ideal situation would be one where your domain name is used in all your social media accounts; however, this isn’t always possible. One tool that you can use to check for availability is www.knowem.com
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes towards choosing the right domain name for your business or personal website. It’s not easy to come up with a winning domain name and one that helps promote your brand for years to come.
Most of the top websites today have about five or six characters, but it was easy for them to register these names because ten or fifteen years ago the internet wasn’t awash with opportunistic business people who make a profit from registering all kinds of domain names and then selling them to the highest bidders.
It takes longer to find the right name today, but with some effort and creativity you can find one that works for you.
Remember the main points: choose a memorable name (no strange symbols), include one mention of the keyword if possible, and make it brandable. By using these tips and taking advantage of all the tools available online, you can come up with a domain name that suits your business and helps to promote it on different platforms online.