What’s in a name? In the Digital Age, choosing the right domain name means everything. The wrong selection can result in a lack of website traffic and, more importantly, the loss of potential customers.
While there is no special formula for choosing the perfect domain name, it is a necessary first step in claiming a piece of the web. There are a number of factors that influence the ultimate success of a website, but here are a few naming tips to keep in mind when purchasing a domain name:
- Keep the domain name simple. A domain should be easy to spell or pronounce, and have a limited number of characters. Making it short, though, does not mean you should use abbreviations, which often are difficult for people to remember.
- Don’t use a long domain name. While a maximum of 67 characters are allowed for a domain name, the majority of websites use a shorter domain name. Longer domain names that have keywords in them can help with search engine optimization, but they can also be harder for a visitor to type in the direct address or remember the correct spelling of the domain.
- Choose a domain that contains keywords that are relevant to the business. Most search engines rank websites much higher if the search terms are contained in the domain name.
- Research appropriate keywords to determine which are the most popular among people searching for your product or service online.
- If it is a local business then adding the city name to the domain can help improve search engine results and help stand out from a variety of companies offering similar products or services in other areas. Think of how many "Mama’s Pizza" places there are, and you’ll see the value of using "mamaspizzacleveland.com" instead.
- Just like the name of a business, make sure your domain name is a name you can brand. This could mean selecting the same name for both the company and the domain. If the name of the business doesn’t reveal what it does or sells, go with something else.
- Don’t feel restricted to one name. You can register several domain names related to what you offer and point them all to the primary site. By purchasing several relevant domain names, you will also keep the competition from taking advantage of your brand by association.
- Plan ahead. Obtain domain names for products and services you plan to offer in the future. Since registering a domain name can cost as little as a few bucks a year when utilizing special offers, it’s a good idea to reserve names in advance.
- Try not to pick a name that can be confused with another domain. You don’t want to send your customers inadvertently to the competition.
- If the name you pick is not available, try adding a prefix such as: a, the, my, your or our to the preferred domain. Most web domain companies will also suggest some alternatives if the first choice isn’t available.
- Avoid hyphens. More than likely, people will forget them, and it’s more difficult to tell someone your website address if you have to say, "www dot my landscaping dash business dot com."
Consider Your Extension
Another important part of the name is the extension that appears after the domain name (such as .com). Known as a top-level domain (TLD), these extensions provide suggestions about the type of site and its content.
Some of the leading top-level domains (TLDs) include:
- .com which is short for "commercial". It’s the preferred domain extension for businesses. Because of this, the number of available .com domain names is decreasing.
- .net represents "network". It is most commonly employed by internet service providers, web hosting companies, and other internet-related businesses, but its use is no longer restricted.
- .org, which stands for "organization," often is used for non-commercial sites, such as non-profit organizations, but many companies register .com and .org domains to ensure the security of their brand.
- .biz is a restricted-use domain extension for business websites.
- .info, .me, .co, .tv are growing in popularity.
- .us is a restricted-use country code (most countries have their own extensions). It can only be used by individuals, businesses, organizations, etc., that reside in the United States or its territories.
A variety of new top-level domains are also being introduced to expand the overall pool of available web addresses.