It seems like such a small thing, but choosing the domain name for your business or creative project is one of the most important things you can do. The right domain name can make your business memorable and the wrong domain can leave you wondering where your clients are.
With a great domain, customers can find your site again and again without having to go the extra step of using a search engine. But how can you make sure that you pick the perfect name? Here are our 10 tips for choosing a great domain name:
1. It’s still the .com era.
Most of the time when you start searching for your domain, the hosting agencies like to sell you less popular endings. Some of these are .net, .info and .lawyer, to name a few. It’s tempting to want to jump on the bandwagon and save a few bucks with the hopes that these domains become more popular over time. Don’t fall to the temptation, though. Most people still assume that all websites end in .com. If you use something else, confused customers can give up in frustration when they believe that your page isn’t loading.
2. Scout it out
When you’re choosing the perfect name, it’s fair enough to take a look at what the others are doing. Who in your industry does well? What types of names do they use? While you want to use popular names for your particular industry, you don’t want your name to be too much like any of your competitors, so it’s important to strike the right balance on this one.
3. Shorter is better
The best domains are the shortest domains. While most of the one-word domains available today are already taken, it’s still worth your while to keep your domain as short as possible. Your customers can remember a short name much easier than they can remember something that complicated. Make your product unique, not your domain name.
4. Something they can spell
The sad truth is that we just aren’t that great at spelling. Don’t choose something that it’s easy for people to confuse. If they can spell it wrong, chances are they will. If it’s going to be a huge problem for you and it’s unavoidable, consider buying the domains for the common misspellings and redirecting them to your main page.
5. Consider your location
If your business is local, such as a coffee shop in Nashville or a day care in Santa Fe, consider a domain that includes the city in the title. It’s more likely that this kind of domain is available. It’s also a great way to send a message to potential customers that you serve a certain location.
6. Check for trademarks
The last thing that you want to do is step on anyone’s intellectual property toes. It can’t hurt to run a search of the domain you’re considering to make sure that someone else hasn’t already trademarked it. Intellectual property laws aren’t fun when they work against you and it’s just easier to avoid anything that might pose a problem for you in this regard.
7. If you like it, put a ring on it
In this case, we’re not talking about an actual ring, but we are talking about reserving the domain for as long as possible. Like the song says, if you like your domain name, you need to commit to it. You can pay extra up front to register the domain for several years, instead of the customary one-year beginner’s agreement.
That’s helpful because in the end you save quite a bit over the year by year price. Also, as your domain grows, it doesn’t make sense to suddenly steer customers to a new site. You’ve built up all of that domain recognition and you should stick with it for the long haul, if at all possible.
8. Hyphens confuse people
It’s true that hyphens in the name can make multiple words easier to read. That’s helpful in some cases, but the downside is that a lot of the time, people forget that the hyphen exists. It’s better to try and create a domain name that’s readable without using a hyphen at all.
9. Use letters, not numbers
Keep it simple. Numbers are hard to remember. People also confuse the dreaded letter O and the number 0. It’s best to choose a domain that literally spells it out.
10. Stick with Scrupulous Registrars
There are good, honest domain registrars out there, and there are others that are, well, not so much. Some shady operations out there are just waiting for you to type a domain name into their availability search. As soon as you’ve expressed that little bit of interest, they snap up the domain so that none of their competitors can sell you the domain. If you want that domain, you’re stuck doing business with them, at the price they say. Stick to a reputable registrar and avoid paying too much for your domain.
Once you’ve got your domain, you can start working on that all-important web content. But the right domain can make a big difference. It’s worth the time and energy to pick a great domain that puts you on the right track to a winning website.