Every individual website has an individual name – for instance our domain WebProsDallas.com – which points to the unique space on the internet where the website is physically located. This is called its Domain Name (sometimes, it’s shortened to simply ‘Domain’)
Selecting the best domain name
Choosing a domain name is an important decision that will affect the success of your website, whether it’s a business site or a personal one. Below, we list some rules to follow when choosing a domain name. The importance of each of the rules might vary for you, depending on whether you’re selecting one for business or personal purposes, but in general it’s good practice to consider them all.
1. Choose “.com”
All websites need a TLD (top-level domain) to define them. ‘.com’ is far and away the most accepted and most recognized TLD of them all, especially for businesses. Whilst there are other widely used TLDS such as ‘.net’ or ‘.org’, the public as a whole tends to immediately use the ‘.com’ extension almost by default. Is it worth the risk that your customers may forget you are a ‘.org’ when they are typing in your domain name?
If setting up subsidiary websites, it can be appropriate to use local TLDs such as ‘.au’ for Australia or ‘.de’ for Germany to define your individual pages.
2. Minimize confusion
Go for a domain name using words that are easy to spell; are spelled correctly; and can’t be confused with similar sounding words. For instance, ‘Mickspastry2U.com’ could easily be misheard as ‘Mixpastry2U.com’, and people telling their friends or customers about the website may forget to be specific about the difference between ‘2U’ and ‘toyou’. Mick would be very disappointed if his customers all spent their money at ‘mixflowerstoyou.com’. Other simple mix-ups are ‘4’ and ‘for’, and the numeral ‘0’ for the letter ‘O’.
Also avoid hyphens wherever possible; not only do people forget where they go, or accidentally type them in the wrong place, they can make your domain look second rate. ‘Micks-pastry.com’ immediately makes the customer think that there is another, more successful business out there that Mick is trying to imitate.
3. Brief is best
An effective domain name is easy to remember, and fast to type. Shorter words come up earlier on browsers using autofill options as well.
4. How Will It Look ?
If you think your domain name would look good on a billboard or a television commercial, chances are your customers will find it visually appealing as well, and are more likely to use it.
5. Is It Memorable?
If a domain name sticks with you after just one hearing then there is a good chance it will be successful. Conversely, if you have to ask three or four times “What is it again? ‘Mickspastryforyou’ or ‘Mickspastrytoyou’ then chances are the customers will have the same trouble. A forgettable domain is an ineffective domain.
6. Is It Applicable?
Choose a domain name that has some relevance to your website. You want people to instantly associate your domain name with your product or purpose the first time they hear it. ‘Micksfastdeliverytoyou.com’ is fine for a courier company, but not so much for a pastry shop providing local businesses with door-to-door service.
7. Is It Brandable?
All other things considered – appeal, memorability, simplicity, applicability & brevity – if you can utilize a uniquely brandable domain name then the long term benefits are very worthwhile. For instance ‘Google’ and ‘youtube’ have gone from merely domain names to being part of the language.
8. Dominate Your Domain
Don’t just settle for one TLD. Once you’ve decided on the ideal format for your domain name, it’s good strategy to try and take ownership of as many other common extensions like ‘.net’, ‘.org’ as well as using ‘.com’ as your main address. You can redirect any traffic to the secondary extensions to your primary domain; not only will people find you no matter what extension they type in, or even if they type in none at all, but you will also prevent a potential competitor setting up as ‘Mickspastrytoyou.biz’ in the future.
9. Be Plural, One Way or Another.
You might be faced with choice between a singular and plural variation in your domain name. ‘Mickspastrytoyou.com’ makes sense, so does ‘Mickspastriestoyou.com’. Whichever you choose as your main domain, be sure to purchase any other variations as well and redirect the secondary choice to your main address. Again, this helps people find you even if they aren’t sure of your domain name, and prevents others setting up rival presences on the web.
10. Keywords Are Key
Keywords are words that people use to find thinks on the internet. Wherever possible pack keywords that are related to your website into your domain name. ‘Mickspastrytoyou.com’ is going to come up earlier and faster for people who are searching for pastry than ‘Micksyummystufftoyou.com’.
11. Jargon and Niche Language
If your website is servicing a niche market and you don’t necessarily expect to generate traffic from the general public, you may wish to use industry-specific jargon in your domain name. It’s still important to have a comprehensible, easily remembered domain name, but including jargon can increase your credibility in the eyes of your targeted clientele. ‘Mickscrolineanddjerekstoyou.com‘ really tells you he’s an expert!
12. Type-In Traffic
Directly navigating to a website by simply typing in your search item and adding and extension such as ‘.com’ is called Type-In Traffic. For instance, registering and redirecting ‘pastry.com’ would reward Mick with a high volume of type in traffic as well as giving good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results.
13. Consider the Cost
Registering & maintaining a brand new domain costs approximately $10.00 per annum.
You may be able to pick up an existing domain name from its owner at auction for anywhere between five and five hundred thousand dollars, plus annual renewal.
Looking into the success of previously registered domain names will help you decide how best to get value for money.
Even better is to search for dropped domains – domains that recently changed from registered to unregistered status for any number of reasons (the owner may have gone out of business, or changed their company name, or simply forgotten to renew the registration, for instance). Dropped domains already have traffic and are available to be registered as cheaply as new names.
14. Try The Thesaurus
If you’re struggling to find just the right words for your domain name, a quick trip to Thesaurus.com might help. Enter the word or words that most closely describe your website into the search box and then review the list of synonyms provided.
15. Check For Copyright
Obviously, you need to avoid using a domain name that infringes an existing copyright or trademark, even by accident.
16. There Are No Bad Ideas
… just some that aren’t as good as others. Get together with your work mates or business partner, or a friend or relative if you’re building a personal website, and brainstorm the process of choosing a domain name. Start with your ‘ideal’ domain and then come up with as many related words and phrases as you can. You’ll know as soon as you toss up the perfect combination.
17. Get Cracking!
Don’t delay – every day you wait is a day that someone else is taking the domain name you require!