Choosing a domain name for your website is one of the important steps you will take on your journey towards creating an online presence. This particular step can be rather daunting, especially when millions of domain names are already registered.
- How do you go about choosing an interesting domain name that properly represents your brand?
- Should you go with the popular .COM domain extension or choose from the less popular top-level domain names?
- Should you bother protecting your privacy?
- How will your chosen domain name affect the visibility of your website?
These are some of the questions will run through your mind as you try to come up with the ideal domain name.
Choosing the right domain name is vital for the success of your website. Your domain name may be the first chance visitors will have to get an impression of your business; therefore, it is important that you get it right the first time.
The good news is that there is lots of great material on the internet that will help you come up with the perfect domain name. What we have done in this article is collected some of the best tips out of the dozens available online.
To help you get started, here are some of the important considerations to make as you decide on a domain name for your website.
Choose a brand-able domain name
It is a good idea to choose a domain name that is brand-able. Your domain name is the foundation of your brand on the internet. This is what customers will use to locate your website; it has to reflect your brand identity. If you go with a generic domain name, you may likely end up becoming just another one of the many websites on the internet, but when you use something unique to your business, it helps you stand out.
If you can’t come up with a unique domain name that reflects your brand, you can always create a new word. Yahoo, Google and Bing are examples of brands that succeeded in using words they probably picked out of the sky.
KISS is a popular acronym that stands for ‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’. Some of the best domain names are the short and simple ones. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, CNN and Instagram are some of the most popular domain names on the internet, and if you look carefully, you will notice one thing in common with all of them; they are short, simple and easy to spell.
According to research by Gaebler, the top 5 websites in the world have a domain name made up of approximately 6 characters. In fact, as you move down the list of top websites, you will discover a direct correlation between popularity and domain name length. When thinking of a domain name, try to limit your choice to 15 characters at most.
Your visitors should be able to recall and spell your domain name easily. If you have to repeat your domain name to people before they understand what you mean, then it’s too complicated and you will likely face problems with it. The last thing you want is to lose potential customers over something as simple as a domain name.
When creating a domain name, avoid using homonyms, these are same words that have different spellings. Your visitors may use the wrong spelling and land on a different website, causing you to lose potential business.
If you can come up with keywords that relate to your brand, then it is a good idea to use one or two in your domain name. Keywords help with website visibility and can improve your chances of appearing in search results for relevant searches. It also helps your visitors understand what your website is about.
Using keywords in your domain name does not mean making your domain name a search term, simply look for a natural way to include a relevant keyword. If this is not possible, then avoid it altogether as doing it the wrong way can get you penalised by Google.
Avoid strange characters
It can be tempting to make your domain name unique by including hyphens, numbers and strange characters, but this can be counterproductive. Domain names that contain strange characters are usually associated with spam websites, an association you have to avoid at all cost.
Besides the negative association, domain names with hyphens and numbers are difficult to pronounce or spell and that could make it difficult for your visitors to use. The ideal domain name is easy to spell and pronounce. While your domain name should be unique and memorable, hyphens and stranger characters will only get in the way.
Think long term
Even though you are choosing a domain name for your current website, it is a good idea to go with something that will not restrict your business in the future. Buying a domain name is like getting married, to a large extent, it is for better or worse. Even though you may be able to change your domain name in the future, it could cost you a lot in terms of customers and page rankings lost. In the famous words of Billy Cox, you cannot build a long-term future on short-term thinking.
If, for example, you run a women’s clothing line, you could choose something like “bespokefemaleclothes.com”. But, what happens if you decide to expand into men’s and children’s clothes? How do you reconcile bespokefemaleclothes.com with the other category of clothes you carry?
If you think there is a chance that you might venture into another line of business sometime in the future, then you should avoid using domain names that expressly relate to what you do currently. So, keep your long-term plans in mind when choosing a domain name.
Check social media availability
Before you pay for a domain name, check to see if it is available on the social media platforms you use. Social media is a great tool for building brands and meeting customers, but it can be disappointing if after buying a domain name, you realize that someone else is using it as a social media handle. When you use the same name across your social media accounts and website, it builds familiarity and makes it easy for your visitors to find you anywhere on the internet.
It is also a good idea to check for any legal issues associated with the domain name of your choice. You don’t want to get attached to a domain name only to lose it when legal complications arise. There are many tools on the internet that can help you detect conflicts with the domain name of your choice.
Use the right domain name extension
There are so many domain name extensions on the market that making the right choice can be difficult. However, it goes without saying that .COM remains the most popular of them all. In fact, almost all the top websites on the internet have a .COM domain name extension.
If you can get a .COM domain name extension for your preferred domain name, by all means go for it; however, note that there are other domain name extensions that could better fit your website niche.
If your website is for local customers in a particular country, you should consider going for a country code domain name. For example, if you have a New Zealand-based business, then it’s a good idea to search and secure a .CO.NZ domain name extension on a site like https://www.freeparking.co.nz/domain-names/. Country code domain name extensions can help local businesses get better traffic in local searches.
Protect your privacy
When you eventually come up with the ideal domain name, you will need to register it with an ICANN accredited domain registrar. During registration, you will have to provide certain personal information such as your name, phone number, email address and physical address. This information will be made available on WHOIS records website for everyone to see. Domain privacy is a way to keep your personal information from the prying eyes of the public. You will still have to submit the needed information, but it won’t appear anywhere on public WHOIS records.
It is important to take your time when thinking of a domain name. However, if after reading this article, you realise that you have made the wrong domain name choice in the past, all is not lost. You can simply get a new domain name of your choice and point it to your current website. This way, both domain names will be working while you begin to create awareness for the new domain name.