How to choose a domain name

Choosing the relevant domain name for your business and website is not as simple as naming a baby or a dog. There are a number of considerations that you need to factor in when choosing the best domain name such as your type of business, the products you sell, and your customers.

Here are some useful features to consider:

  1. Practicality of Choice
  2. Relevant URL to Use

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Practicality of Choice

The practical aspect of choosing a domain name covers a number of things:

Relation to your business

Customers must be able to get a general idea of your business just by reading your domain name. If you are selling shoes, then it is practical to include the word “shoes” or “footwear” in your domain name. To give you an idea, do a search of websites offering the same products or service as yours. Study the domain name of your competitors based on the search results.

Short and Catchy

Add descriptive terms to make potential customers take a second look. The word “shoe” or “footwear” doesn’t say much about your website. Adding the phrase “for all” to form ShoesForAll would indicate that your website sells shoes regardless of age, sex, foot size, or shoe type.

Athlete’s Foot can be a catchy name. However, customers looking for shoes might be directed to clinics offering dermatological services or vice-versa.

Avoid confusion when the words are combined. Like if your website is a directory of different clinics offering various modes of therapy, “Find Therapists” can be catchy; but when combined, “findtherapist” sends out a different message. You don’t want to attract the wrong bunch, do you?

Here are some examples of unintentional, yet very awkward, combined words domain:

  • Pen Island
  • Choose Spain
  • Who Represents
  • Master Bait and Tackle

Simple and easy to remember

Fancy names can set you apart from the competition, but it does not always translate to popularity. Name recall is often associated with simplicity. The simpler your domain name is, the easier for your customers to remember.

Simplicity also covers the length of the domain name. One-word names are now hard to come by because there are literally hundreds of millions of websites already existing. Use the Thesaurus to come up with as many word combinations as possible.

Location

This is most practical if your business covers a specific geographical location, like a mom-and-pop store for example. Search engines are designed to look for products or services offered within the area of the searcher and will most likely recommend your website in the results.

Plural/Singular, spellings, numbers, and hyphens

If you are confused whether to use the singular or plural form of the word, think of the users: how will they type the word when they do their search. Classic example is “shoes”. Because we are used to the words “shoes” rather than “shoe”, searchers will most like type the plural form.

Yes, internet users commit spelling mistakes; but don’t deliberately misspell your domain name. Potential customers might turn away from you and say “Why would I trust your site when you don’t even know how to spell!” And you can even get sued! This is another reason why you need a simple yet catchy name—it is less prone to spelling errors.

Numbers in names may be cute or even clever, but you wouldn’t type “pizza 2 go” when you’re searching for takeout pizza, would you?

A hyphen is good in breaking words to make them readable. Search engines may also find it easier to understand each word in your domain name. However, people don’t type with hyphens. Imagine telling a friend that you have a website for shoes and he typed “shoes dash for dash all”.

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Think long-term with a brand name

A name that can become a brand will be great. If you are envisioning that your future website will be as popular as Flickr, Facebook, Yahoo, or Amazon, you may want to consider somewhat obscure names or non-words as your domain name.

Relevant URL to Use

Purpose of your website

Dotcoms (and variations) are called extensions, URLs or TLD (top level domains). The most advisable domain extension is COM as it has been around since the popularity of the internet. There are other TLDs that can be used, but they are often associated with specific purposes.

You may also choose to use country extensions like AU (Australia), CO.UK (United Kingdom), etc. The disadvantage though is that your potential customers might think that your service is limited only to a specific country.

Pros and Cons of Other Domain Extension

  • dot Net

(+)           Second most widely-used TLD and is increasingly becoming popular

(+)             Best option for anything techie because of the subtle connotation (network, internet)

(-)              Might indicate that your website is second-rate (inc comparison to a dot com site)

(-)              Could indicate a different meaning if combined with other words, e.g., bayou.net

  • dot Org

(+)           Best for non-profit websites, community groups, philanthropic endeavors

(-)              Although it can be used by any type of website, it can create confusion if your site is for business. GoForGold.org, anyone

  • dot Info

(+)             Great extension for website supporting your website. You can have all the informational stuff about your products and services under this extension then drive traffic to your business website.

(-)              Info equates to knowledge and visitors have this expectation that they’ll learn from the website. It might lead to frustration if what they see are purely sales stuff.

Other less known URLs that you can explore

  • dot travel – specific to trip related websites, including travel accessories, hotel bookings, flight bookings, etc.
  • dot mobi – for anything related to mobile technology—from mobile phones to accessories like phone covers and screen protector.
  • dot me – used for personal branding or can be cleverly combined with other words to create an impact. How about FindNa.me for a directory website?

Your Next Steps

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Create at least five variations of your preferred domain names

Don’t stick to one. Always think that the possibility of finding an existing website with the same name is huge. Going back to our shoe example, variations can be something like:

  1. ShoesForAll
  2. VarietyShoe
  3. ShoeMeSomething
  4. ShoesThatsEasy
  5. RackOfShoes

Bounce off your idea

Ask your family, friends, and acquaintances what they think of the name. You can ask them if the name is catchy, easy to remember, provides information about your website, and has name recall quality.

Search the internet

Type your proposed domain name in the address bar to check for existing websites. What you want to see is the “Website not available” message.

Register your domain name

Once you are confident that you have the most appropriate domain name, register it immediately. If you have no idea where to go, just search for “domain name registrars”.

Registration can cost as low as $10 per domain name, but you need to read carefully the terms and conditions (and this is really serious). Don’t commit the mistake of just pressing the “I Accept”, “I Agree” button or any variation of it. Some domain name registrars have fees and other conditions (like them owning the name) hidden in the fine prints.

If you are worried about the competition using other extensions when your website becomes popular, register the same name using different extensions. You don’t need to create a website for each; you only want to make sure that others cannot use the name for their own dotORG, dotINFO, or dotWHATNOT.

You may also want to explore extension registrars that offer extra freebies like discounted hosting, free email accounts, marketing consultations, and a library of stock images.

Launch Your Website

Your website will be your business’ face in the internet and “that” face must come with a name: your domain name. With so many online sites, customers might find it hard to remember the “face”. With a domain name that is catchy, easy to remember and type, relevant, and useful, your business will surely not be buried in the obscurity of the world wide web.

 

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