Remember to think about your domain name and how it will influence visitors.
Choosing your domain name is one of the most consequential decisions you’ll be making. Your website and its accompanying domain name (a.k.a. URL or web address) represent your brand, and you’ll be broadcasting it on basically everything moving forward: social media sites, business cards, posters, advertisements and your @email address, to name a few.
Here’s our guide for selecting the perfect domain name and creating a lasting impression.
Strategies for Choosing your Domain Name
If you’ve already chosen a business name, you may think selecting a domain name is as simple as replicating your business name and adding a .com to the end.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, however these tips will hopefully guide you in your decision-making.
1. Make It Memorable & Keep It Short
Much of your business may be coming from word of mouth, so you want something easy to remember and, ideally, unique.
With the proliferation of e-commerce sites and online stores, most of the common URLs have been claimed long ago. Now, intentional misspellings, combined words, verbs and unusual extensions have become the norm. Think Flickr, Bebo, Insightly, Lingua.ly, Shopify or GoDaddy.
2. Describe Your Brand, Where Possible
If you’re lucky enough to find an available domain name that mirrors your intended business name, you’ve hit the jackpot. Your URL will not only help easily describe what you do without any further need for explanation, but it can also help in your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
For example, if you own a family construction lawn care business called McCall & Sons, consider a domain name such as www.McCallLawnCare.com.
3. Create Your Other Brand Handles
Social media sites are another important element of your brand and lead generation strategies. Customers are more likely to check out your Facebook page for news and announcements than they are your website. You want to make it easy for them to find you across platforms.
Whenever possible, get the same social handles as your domain name. @McCall is likely taken but you could check @McCallLawns or @McCallCare. If those are taken, you can get creative and still reflect your brand by adding a short prefix or suffice, such as the, now, today, app, or get. The same is true for your overall domain name.
4. Register as a .com First, Then Choose Other Extensions
Despite the availability of hundreds of top-level domain (TLD) name extensions (e.g., .edu, .buzz, .de, .info, .store, .blog), .com continues to be the gold standard.
When in doubt, most users will start with a .com extension when they don’t know the ending of a domain name. The .com extension also has the most perceived credibility among internet users.
When you’ve secured the .com domain, it can be a good idea to selectively purchase other fitting extensions, like .uk to identify your country location or .vet if you provide veterinary services.
You may also want to consider registering common misspellings of your domain to catch a few outliers (e.g., McallLawnCare.co, or McCalLawnCare.com).
5. Consider Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
When someone searches for a product or service on a search engine, like Google, Bing or Yahoo, they type in keywords or phrases. The engines search through millions of records to find websites that correspond with these search terms.
There are those who would argue that a keyword-based URL doesn’t matter at all since there are so many newer factors that can affect your SEO performance. Changing search algorithms are also likely to impact SEO over the long term.
6. Be Creative
So if you’ve tried the strategies we’ve explained above and are still coming up empty, it’s time to get creative. Use an online thesaurus or other brainstorming tools to find new ways to convey your brand. Both Shopify and NameBoy have name generating tools available.
It’s common to go through dozens of iterations before settling on a final candidate. It takes time to choose the perfect domain name!
Research & Test It
After you’ve finished your brainstorming and discovered that your ideal domain name is available, you should do further research. Search for similar domain names using different spellings, extensions or variations.
If you’re purchasing a domain from someone else, it’s worth checking its history. You can use the Wayback Machine to make sure you’re not buying a domain with a “questionable” past.
Ask friends or colleagues for feedback to make sure the URL makes sense and that you’ve haven’t overlooked something.
Finally, check to ensure you’re not infringing on someone else’s trademark.
Once you’ve done this due diligence, it’s time to register your domain names.
Avoid These Pitfalls
Don’t pick a domain that can be easily confused with existing sites (e.g., by adding an “s” or using a .net or .org when the .com is already in use by someone else)
Even though intentional misspellings can be okay, stay away from tricky names that can be easily mistyped (e.g., EZDuzIT.com)
Make sure to avoid numbers, hyphens and underscores which are confusing to explain (e.g., do I spell the number six or type in a 6?)
Don’t make it too long. You’re not doing yourself any favours with a long URL such as “johnshomeconstructionofboise.com,” especially when you’ll also probably use it as your email extension (e.g., john@johnshomecontructi…. you get the idea!)
There are many variables to consider, but in the end, your domain name should be unique, simple to memorize, and easy to pronounce or explain over the phone
Now that you’ve taken the time to find and register the perfect domain name, it’s a good idea to set your domain to auto-renew. You can also consider enabling domain ID protection to mask your contact information.
All of your hard work is pointless if you don’t have a reputable company to host and maintain your website. Whether you’re hosting a site for the first time or switching hosting providers, we’re here for you.