What is a Domain Name?
Put simply, a domain name is like a virtual street address. It’s how your potential customers or clients find you and visit you on the internet.
As such, domain names are crucial for businesses and can mean the difference between success and failure. It’s your location, but it also has a deeper meaning than a simple street address. Because it is a name, it is your business’s identity online. For many potential customers, your domain name is the first impression they will have of your business.
Outside of being paramount to your business’s branding, domain names greatly affect your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Due to Google’s omnipresence in our everyday use of the internet, SEO is becoming more important for businesses to reach their potential customers.
For these reasons, domain names are just as, if not more important than choosing your business name. Therefore, choosing a domain name should not be a light decision. You should do your research and follow some general rules.
Rules to Choosing the Right Domain Name
Make it make sense for your business industry.
This one might sound obvious, but it’s not always completely intuitive. For example, if you’re running a brewery, you won’t want people to think you’re an indoor rock-climbing business.
Make it catchy. Make it memorable
If your name is one-of-a-kind, people will be more likely to recall it so they can find you again or tell their friends about it. The last thing you want is for your potential customers to say, “Wait, what was that name again? I can’t remember if it was spelled with an ‘e’ or an ‘a’.”
If you follow this advice, your domain will be much easier to market and sell. This isn’t even domain-specific advice – it’s a good rule for all business names.
A good way to test the catchiness of your name is to test it with your friends.
- Tell them your name and ask them if they can spell it. If so, good work.
- Next, move on to a different person. Without saying it out loud, show them the name written down. Can they pronounce it correctly? Do they know what you are trying to sell off the name alone? If so, good work.
Make it short
Shorter domains are (unsurprisingly) easier to remember. Studies show that we remember 4 things at once – any more, and we go into cognitive overload. This may be one reason why four-letter .coms go for such a premium.
Make it easy to find
This one is all about SEO. To make your domain rank higher on Google and Bing, there are two important considerations to make:
- Depending on your industry, consider using keywords. Ask yourself which search terms someone would use to find your business, and make a list of those terms.
- If you’re a local or regional business, consider using your locality in your name. For example, if you’re a coffee shop in Tuscon, Arizona, you might be TusconCoffee.com.
When in doubt, .com is your friend
There are many Top Level Domains (TLDs) out there, and some are becoming very trendy. Think .shop, .work, .party, etc. While these can be exciting for new branding opportunities, remember one thing – internet users always default to .com. This is why .coms are the most valuable TLD extension.
Unless you have an excellent reason to use an alternative TLD (using a country code TLD such as .co.uk works if you are operating only in that country), stick with .com.
What to Avoid When Choosing a Domain Name
Don’t use jargon or slang
You should use the universal language that everyone (across localities) understands will stand the test of time.
Don’t follow trends
This one goes along with avoiding slang. But if you use a trendy name, it could potentially fall out of favor in the next year or so. Or in today’s world of fast fads, it could be in the next week (or even the next day!).
Don’t use numbers
Unless your brand absolutely depends on the use of numbers, you should avoid this practice. Numbers can cause confusion, as potential customers may not know whether the number should be spelled out.
Don’t use dashes or any other special characters.
As a best practice, never use hyphens or special characters. For one, they look pretty tacky. And more importantly, people may misspell your name. A golden rule to follow is to only use the 26 letters in the alphabet.
Speak to a professional:
One could fall into countless pitfalls that could create legal trouble or cost you tens of thousands in wasted marketing dollars. Take the time to speak with a professional Domain Broker, and get a complimentary consultation before investing thousands.
Some considerations to dot your I’s and cross your T’s:
- Check for similar spellings of the name. Even if a name is spelled differently, if it’s similar in any way, it might siphon off traffic from your site.
- Check social media for the name. If someone is using the name on social media but not as a website, it would confuse customers and be bad news for your business.
Overall the right domain can change your business and ultimately change your life. Choose, but choose wisely.