Choosing a name for anything is daunting. Your kid, your business or website domain, you want to make a good choice. Your domain name is your internet identity and should be a vital component in your overall business and marketing strategy. How do you figure out what your ultimate domain name is?
I Am What I Am
Ideally, the planets will align so that your website name and business name will come together at the same time. The name that you’ve been using in your marketing and branding efforts is the name you want for your website and domain. It’s the first thing users will try to enter into a browser.
If you already have a well-known name or brand, you should obviously get the domain that matches that name. You put a lot of effort into getting that name and branding established in your community. But what if that name is taken? Don’t change your company name because you couldn’t get the domain name.
Look up the current owner on www.whois.net and contact them to see if they are willing to sell it to you. If they are agreeable to selling the name, they will probably up the fee so you could be paying a higher rate than when you buy a new domain.
If your website and/or company is new, you might want to check out domain names first and find one that suits the name of your business. So, let’s say you find that bitsandbobs.com is available and buy it, it could be a perfect name for your Bits and Bobs business with your website being bitsandbobs.com.
Remember, the internet is an extremely fast-paced world and your customers want ease of use, so don’t make them work. A domain name that reflects your business and website is one less piece of information for users to remember. When visitors think of your business and website they’ll know it by name and where to go or what to enter into the browser.
The Long and Short of It
It’s true. Shorter domain names are easier to remember (but it’s harder and harder to get meaningful short names that make sense). Short names are also less apt to give users problems with typos. Todayisyourluckyday.com (sort of an average length) is much easier to remember and use than goandconquetheworldtodayisyourluckyday.com.
On the other hand, if a short name seems confusing or random unless the user is very familiar with you, then stick with something longer. So, tiyld.com is short and sweet, but it’s an odd assortment of letters that aren’t even pronounceable as an acronym. Spelling this out is probably easier to remember and use: TodayIsYourLuckyDay.com. Additionally, search engines will probably not pick up on your randomly-lettered domain name.
Word! What’s the Key Here?
Another point to consider is using site keywords in your domain name. Using keywords are likely to boost your site ranking with search engines. It’s not your business name, but the plus side is that search engines gravitate toward keywords that are also found in domain names. However, in order to make keywords in your domain work for you, you’ll need to know what words people are searching for. There are quite a few tools that will can help you figure out the best keywords to use. See Good Things and Do Your Leg Work below for a more detailed discussion.
So being that you can use up to 63 or 67 characters in a domain name, you could use several keywords…go crazy! But, and try to remember that run-on name and type it into a browser! It’s probably a good idea to avoid a horrendously long name…no one will remember it, much less want to type in out. The key to your domain name, long or short, is that it makes sense and doesn’t cause a lot of confusion for your customers or other potential users.
Spell It Like It Is
A correctly-spelled domain name will help your users find your website easily. It might be cool and fun to use z’s for s’s or even add a few zzzz’s to your name, but opt for simple and easy… kewlgurrrlsurferz.com …huh?
To Hyphen or Not to Hyphen
Some things to think about with a hyphenated name:
Not So Good Things:
- ~ You’ll have a hurdle making people aware of the hyphens in your domain and people don’t usually remember to type them in. Most people would type in todayisyourluckyday.com, not today-is-your-lucky-day.com
- ~ Adding hyphens in your name makes for a potential mouthful when users say your name…verbal marketing will sound clumsy. It would be almost more logical to buy clumsyhyphenandhyphenawkward.com because you’ll be saying “clumsy hyphen and hyphen awkward dot com.” If you aren’t clear about the hyphens, when people recommend your fabulous product or service and site, other users will type in clumsyandhyphen.com, not clumsy-and-awkward.com. Take a cue from most corporations and try not to use them.
- ~ Generally, they are a pain to type, especially several of them within one domain.
- ~ Hyphens help search engines identify keywords more easily. Because they distinguish your keywords better, your site will be better ranked in search results for those specific keywords.
- ~ It’s an alternative when the un-hyphenated domain name is already registered to someone else. If you can limit them, you may still be able to get a not-too-awkwardly-hyphenated domain you want.
Happy Medium Thing:
- ~ Buy both your natural and hyphenated domain names…since typing the name is easier without hyphens, this is the one you use for marketing and everywhere else. Since search engines usually like and rank domains with hyphenated names better and better ranking drives more users to your site, you’ll get the benefits of the hyphen.
What’s the Point?
Registering multiple domain names and pointing each one to a specific page or a few to your general website can help generate higher sales and traffic to your site. When you do this, you give users multiple avenues to your site. So, both customers who know the business name will be able to find you and customers who know your product or service will be able to find you.
Consider purchasing domains that are similar to your domain, contain hyphens or are even misspelled: coolcoffeeshop.com, coolcoffeeshoppe.com, koolcoffeeshop.com, cool-coffee-shop.com, coolcofeeshop.com, kewlcafeshop.com…you get the picture. Registering several domains will cast a wider net when users search for you. A word of caution: don’t point too many multiple domains to the same page because most search engines will dump your site.
.com is the most common and widely known extension. Like a good short name, finding your .com domain can be challenging. Most people now recognize .biz, .edu, .org, .net…but these also have certain implications. Be aware that .biz is generally recognized for businesses; .edu is intended for educational institutions; .org is widely used by non-profit and similar organizations; .net was originally for network providers, but it has a general use like .com now. However, there is nothing wrong with buying your domain name with several of these extensions.
Numbers can present a similar problem as hyphens, especially with vocal marketing: is shineything4you.com – 4you or foryou or fouryou or 4u…..?
Using profanity in your domain name is unprofessional and gives you a negative image. Done.
Do Your Leg Work
Getting back to using a keyword or words in your domain name…this will help optimize search engine results, but to make your choices meaningful, you have to know what people are searching for.
- ~ Word Search – www.wordtracker.com is one of the many tools that can help you find good keywords. Enter the words or phrase/phrases you think people would use to search and the program shows you which words are most popular. You can use this information to optimize our website content, generate more keywords and improve your organic or pay-per-click searches. This site gives you a free 7-day tour, beyond that it’s a paid membership. If you search for “keyword tool,” you’ll find other tools to use as cross-reference.
- ~ Trademarks – If you have any question about your domain name being trademarked, do some research to verify you aren’t violating the law. However, if you register domain name and then a company trademarks it, you’re probably safe.
- ~ www.whois.net – You can do various searches on this site, obviously finding out if the domain you want already has a current owner. You can search by domain name, keyword and owner. Using the domain search will help you with trademark research. You can find deleted domains as well.
- ~ www.deleteddomains.com – The name says it all! Do a primary search for deleted and on-hold domains here. The site has a great feature that allows you to choose search parameters like character length or domains that contain specific words. You’ll need to register to get the full benefits of their services.
- ~ www.nameboy.com – This is a playful generator site. You search for words and let the program know if you want your domain to use hyphens or rhyming words. It also has a “who is” search. A cool feature is that you can submit your domain name and they will appraise the words for things like search frequency, terms and keyword advertising values, popularity. Using this tool will help you evaluate your domain relative to keywords.
Because your domain name is part of your image and branding, use all the resources available to make a good choice. Sometimes domains come easy and are a logical fit AND are available—the planets aligned for you! It gets tricky when your first choice isn’t available or you can’t find a good combination of words. Your domain should represent your company and product or service in order to better integrate your website into your marketing strategy.
The ultimate domain name does not make an ultimate site…you still need to put some work and effort into great content and design. Go the extra mile with keywords and some SEO work. Otherwise, your website will be all dressed up with nowhere to go.
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