21 Nov Picking a Domain Name: 7 Tips to Choose Wisely
Sure, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But Rose.com and Rose.info definitely aren’t created equal. Neither are OrlandoRoses.com and RoseyPoseyPoo.com.
If you’re launching a startup or new web venture, don’t underestimate the importance of your domain name. A smart choice or a misguided pick will significantly affect your site’s SEO and SERP ranking, traffic from direct address type-ins, your word-of-mouthability (um, yeah, of course it’s a word), and your branding as a whole.
Here are some important guiding principles for picking a domain name that works to your benefit:
1. Tie in your brand name
If your brand name indicates what you do (e.g., Plumber Bob or Daytona Auto Repair) it’s probably a suitable domain name. Including your town or city is beneficial for local operations, too.
2. Keep it short
Domain names should be memorable and easy to type. People standing on a chair amidst rising flood waters are going to PlumberBob.com, not BobUnclogsYourDrainsAndRepairsYourBustedPipes.com. Three words or less is usually best.
3. Make it easy to spell
Misspellings mean missed connections and even misdirects to the competition. People should be able to hear your domain name and know how to type it. Avoid cutesy misspellings, like pluralizing with a “z,” adding a double letter, or going phonetic or txt-speak. Don’t include numbers, as people don’t know whether to spell them or use numerals. Stay singular, too, because lots of people will forget the “s” and end up on a competitor’s site. Oh, and no hyphens. Nobody likes hyphens.
4. Go with .com
The .com top-level domain (TLD) is the extension. Everyone automatically thinks and types it. Use it, but consider buying other extensions like .net, .org, and .info and having them redirect to your site. If you do go with something besides .com, never use another extension on a name someone else is already using with .com, or much of your intended traffic will go to them.
One exception: If you’re doing business outside the US, use the extension of the country you’re targeting, like .ca for Canada or .uk for the United Kingdom.
5. Work in a keyword or two
A target keyword in your URLs boosts your SEO and tells people your purpose. It’s great when this coincides with your brand name, so good for you, Plumber Bob. But if you’re just Bob’s, it’ll be helpful to throw another relevant, informative word or two into your domain name.
6. Don’t violate someone’s copyright
It’d be a real shame to come up with the perfect domain name, buy it, build your site, print up a bunch of advertising materials, land a few accounts, and then get a cease and desist for using a name somebody else owns. Spend a minute on this page from Copyright.gov.
7. Whois is your friend
Whois.com lets you search to see if your domain name ideas are available. It also tells you who owns spoken-for domain names. If you have your heart set on something unavailable, you can always try buying it.