A majority of the projects we work on, a domain name is already been selected for the business. However, this week, I have had two clients ask for help in choosing a domain name for their business. In both cases, we were asked to provide the reasoning behind our choices that we suggested. I decided to write down our Top 12 Rules For Choosing The Right Domain Name to help you select a great domain name.
Before you start your domain search, have a brainstorm session to select 5 phrases or words that best describes your company, business, products or services. Once you find those, start to pair them together, add your surname if that is a part of your business name to see how it fits in the mix of keywords.
2. Make Your Domain Name Unique
Attempt to avoid plurals, hyphens, or mispellings of words. It is best to continue searching for a perfect domain name fit than to have your website confused with another site by accident. A good example is the photo sharing site Flickr. They do not own Flicker.com. You can image those less familiar with the website and those that are not tech-savvy attempting to find the correct spelling.
3. Dot-com Only
To build a successful website with longevity, your best alternative is to establish a dot-com domain rather than the plethora of domain extensions. Most people who use the web, automatically assume that your website will be a dot-com. **There are exceptions to the rule when dealing with 501C3 and other non-profit entities.
4. Make Your URL Easy to Type
You stand to lose a good portion of web traffic with domains that or very long or use un-memorable words or sounds. Words that have multiple spellings are also things to avoid, such as grey/gray, your/you’re, or substituting letters for words, IE You/U.
5. Make Your URL Easy to Remember
Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful forms of marketing. Your domain should be recalled with ease and well understood verbally. SERPSs (search engine results pages) also rely on dominance marketing that uses how easy your domain is recalled in search engines. Your worst nightmare would be to have the most carefully crafted and high converting website that nobody can tell their friends about because they cannot remember the name.
6. Keep It Short
Short URLs are easy to type and easy to remember…..see the last two rules. They also allow more characters in the URL address to be displayed in SERPs. In addition, it is easier to accommodate on business cards, web graphics, and social media.
7. Create Expectations & Fulfill The Promise
You should be able to guess the type of content found on a domain within seconds of hearing it for the first time. Your domain name should not be a mystery or confusing about what you do. Domains like Weather.com, CareerBuilder.com and PayPal.com are very self explanatory. However, image the amount of branding dollars that were spent on sites like Amazon.com, Ebay.com and Yahoo.com to create the brand that exists today.
8. Stay Away from Copyright Infringement Issues
Many great small business have succumb to this avoidable mistake. Be sure that you are not infringing on any copyrighted information with your domain. You can always search copyright.gov before you register your domain.
9. Brand Yourself
Branding is more than words or phrases strung together. Exact match domains such as housepaintersanddiego.com or shoesforthebeach.com are not as good of a choice as sites like lendingtree.com or autotrader.com. Lendingtree.com features “lending” doing a good job of explaining the mortgage business, while “tree” reference to many options and a sense of the community where you new home will reside.
Hyphens and numbers make for difficulty in verbally communicating your domain name. Hyphens are many times referred to as dashes and if someone only recalls the words of your domain, they will navigate to a potential competitor. Numbers are difficult since they can be represented as a numeric value or by the spelling of the number. 3palms.com vs. threepalms.com
11. Don’t Be Trendy
Avoid the many “Web 2.0″ naming conventions of mis-spellings or adjectives describing your website, IE, topcarpetcleaner, bestcommercialrealestate, or Flickr. This is not a new practice. Remember the old Yellow Book Pages with business named AAA (insert business name here). To prove the point, look at Inc’s list of top companies, or Fortune’s list of top companies and see how many are name Best XXXXX or AAA XXXX.
12. Use a Accurate Domain Search Tool
Just about every domain registrar out there has a domain search tool where you can search for your prospective domain, and it will provide variations or similar available domains. Do accurate research, brainstorm about different ideas, and come up with a domain that meets as many of these criteria above.
Need Help Choosing a Domain or Designing Your Internet Marketing Campaign? Let Us Know How We Can Help: