How to Choose a Domain Name
If you are thinking of building a website for your business —especially your online business, you might think a domain name is the easiest part of the job. But is this true? Are domain names really that important?
Selecting the wrong or right domain name goes a long way in determining the overall success of your site. Too challenging of a name, and nobody will be able to remember it. However, pick something that isn’t unique enough, and your audience could confuse your brand with someone else’s.
This hassle is easily avoidable when you pick the right name from the start. Here’s another tip, although your domain name does need to be catchy, that can’t be your only consideration.
In this article, we will share all the tools you need to pick the perfect domain name for your brand that’s both business savvy and result-driven.
But first, why are domain names so important?
- Adds professional credibility to your business: Your domain URL goes a long way to “qualify” your business. You might think that if you have a credible business and a good website, the traffic will come. However, a domain name is the crucial first step that guarantees this.
- Visibility: High ranking websites don’t just happen. Search engine optimization plays a huge role here, and this dials back to your domain name and how it fits your business. The keywords in your domain name can affect your ranking.
- Branding: If you are focused on growing your brand efficiently, the right domain name can be your ally on this mission.
The above points are reasons you should put more than a momentary thought into your domain name. Below are some of the important factors and tools you should look into when learning how to choose a domain name.
How to Choose a Domain Name
When it comes to figuring out how to choose a domain name, here’s what you need to know.
Use the Right Extensions
Here’s an outright declaration: “.com” is the best extension you can have for your domain name. Apart from the fact that it is extremely reliable, it is also really common, and no, that’s not a bad thing.
Newer extensions or niche extensions like .pizza, .photography, and even .blog can seem cooler, but they can be unreliable.
If “.com” is not available, and you don’t want to give up your ideated name, try “.net” or “.org.” If these are unavailable as well, then you really should find a new name.
Also, unless your target market is the tech-savvy kind, you are definitely better off sticking with dot-com domain names. These are the easiest to remember. Most folks will just type in “.com” when they are trying to find your site.
You might think something creative like “lisa.pizza” might help your local customers remember you’re the best pizza delivery in your community. But, more than likely, they’d probably “lisa.pizza.com” first.
Dot-net and dot-org are also viable options if you please, but your online business will profit the most from a “.com” behind your brand name.
Use Keywords that Sell What You Do
Differentiate your site with a domain name that boasts keywords necessary for your online business.
Keywords in your domain name are essential tools to help you rank higher when paired with quality content. Here’s a tip: get creative. Finding the right combination of keywords can be tricky because most common names are already taken.
To get creative, you can come up with a combination of keywords. If you use a keyword without adding your own spin to it, it can blend in quite easily, thereby increasing the competition.
Keywords, even a combination, can greatly help with your site’s SEO. Obviously, you don’t want to be awkwardly stuffing keywords in your name so that you can rank higher. You do this, and you brand yourself as a generic site.
One way to apply this is by putting the main keyword at the beginning of your domain name, not somewhere in the middle where they get swallowed by another word. They will mostly affect your ranking here.
The goal is to be unforgettable. Here are a few tools to select your brandable domain name:
- There are tools like domain name generators that can help you brainstorm keyword combinations to make your business name unique, including Keywordtool.io and Google Keyword Planner.
- Your vocabulary is mostly limited to your exposure, so use a thesaurus to see variations of the keyword you want to use.
Use a Brandable Name
Prioritize keywords over bland domain names, but brandable names over generic ones.
A generic domain name contains keywords, but they are typically unmemorable because of how they are stuffed together.
Brandable names, on the other hand, are unique even though they may or may not contain a keyword. They will stand you out from the crowd of online businesses.
You can create catchy, new words that will help your business stand out. These words can be a combination of terms you wanted to use.
Or they can simply be a totally different term that describes what you want your business to feel or look like (it goes without saying that you shouldn’t think too out-of-the-box here).
Think of websites like Amazon and Netflix. Both are made-up words, and both are extremely popular, punchy, easy to spell, and easy to remember. This is the definition of being brandable.
Using brandable names can be tricky, so you need to carry out adequate research. You don’t want another person claiming you used their inspiration after you’ve spent a lot of effort building your site.
Be sure you aren’t using a trademarked name or something easily associated with a similar brand.
The Shorter, the Better
Even though we told you to get creative, don’t unleash a plethora of terms that will lead to a long domain name. Keywords are important, but length is too.
A shorter domain name is much easier to remember than a long winding one. Shorter words are more memorable and stick to your customer’s memory faster. As a domain name increases in length, it also becomes more tasking to recall.
If possible, keep your domain name under 15 characters. It’s easier to remember any name—
domain or not— that’s below 15 characters. Although the common length is 12 characters, we understand if it needs to go above this sometimes.
Another reason to keep your domain name short is that users are likely to make more typographical errors with longer ones when typing into the search box. This will lead to a loss of traffic.
Of course, some websites have long domain names that rank higher, but it’s just an extra layer of work. So brainstorm for something short.
Easy to Spell
That your domain name should be easy to spell sounds like a fairly obvious point till you take another look. It’s easy to get caught up creating domain names without keeping the simplest things in mind.
Think of some of the most popular platforms today—iMessage, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, with names that sound almost ridiculous.
These brands have one thing in common, they are communicating ease. It’s pretty straightforward typing out any of these brands, and it should be the same for yours.
If you plan to create professional email addresses with your domain name, this is more of a necessity.
You should be able to easily share your domain name when speaking as well as writing. You never know when you’ll have to share your domain name in person.
Long, windy domain names are hard to spell, and so are complicated words. If you ask about ten people to spell out our choice babe and less than seventy percent can’t, it might be time to consider a different name.
This is a huge thing because there are so many similar websites, and a small spelling mistake can lead a user to a different site that provides the same services as you do.
Just as the above point, an easily pronounced domain name is vital for your online business. This is a standalone point because some words, while easy to spell, aren’t that easy to pronounce, especially when they are in conjunction with other words.
If you are combining keywords to create your domain name, pay attention to this. You want the name to be easy to pronounce, and for it, it sounds reasonable when the words are put side by side.
Another reason to pay attention to this is if you are using a different language from what your niche market speaks. If you want this exotic flair added to your brand name, that’s viable.
Just make sure you are using words that another user who doesn’t speak the language won’t have trouble getting through. Here’s a tip: make sure you are not using foreign words that have vulgar meanings in a different language of your target market.
Beyond online advertisement, another way your brand spreads is through word of mouth. You don’t want your potential advertiser stuttering when they want to tell their friends about your website.
You can implement the same test here to see if you have chosen a name that’s easy to pronounce. Simply write it down and ask them to try and pronounce the name.
Stick to the Letters
This ought to be non-negotiable; keep hyphens out of your domain names. It’s inevitably more challenging to write or pronounce any domain name that has a hyphen in it.
It’s also unnecessary. You can achieve the same endgame without one. Wired-cash-flow is also pronounced as wiredcashflow when it really comes down to it. There’s no need to add in hyphens. They only make the names more complicated.
What’s more, hyphens can be a sign of spam domains. You don’t want your online business or your users to be associated with this look. Plus, they are prone to typos; it’s easy to forget exactly where the hyphen features. Remember, not everyone is as invested as you are in the site.
The same goes for numbers. They can seem tacky and extremely confusing. There’s no need to go overboard with the creativity. Simply stick to the letters.
You want names that are smooth and punchy without anything getting in the way —hyphens or numbers.
Avoid Same Letters Following Each Other
Sometimes, website owners use numbers or hyphens to avoid double letters, and while their cause is noble, the approach is wrong (as we’ve already seen).
You want to avoid double letters in your domain name. The reason is similar to the others; it’s pretty easy to lose traffic to typos when people aren’t sure how many e’s to type into the browser for websiteeducator, for example.
Keep it simple by using the letter one time only if you happen to have two words that end and begin with the same one.
Cater to Your Long-term Goals
It’s a smart choice to keep your domain name related to your business; that’s where keywords come in. They let users and customers know what you are about, which is free marketing.
But are you thinking long-term? Choosing a domain name that might fit your business module now but not pan out over the long haul isn’t smart.
Consider this: your website will define your business for years to come. You might start out thinking, I’d change it when I want to expand, but it’s never that easy. You have to think about rebranding, SEO ranking, and the domain you want might even be taken by then.
A good tip is always to use names that are relatable but open-ended.
For instance, if your site sells Mexican food recipes, you might decide to use something like mexicanfoodie.com. This sounds like the perfect fit, but make sure it’s not short-sighted.
Is there a possibility you might expand your niche to more Latino dishes in the future? If there is, you should consider using a domain name that is more open-ended.
You don’t want to pin yourself down in a niche that doesn’t serve your future goals. The domain name you chose might keep you from attracting foodies that want to try other dishes apart from Mexican ones.
Therefore, keep your long-term vision in mind when picking your domain name.
Research, Research, Research
Now that you’ve selected a domain name (or three), it’s time to do your research. Check the net to ensure that no one has this same name registered or something extremely similar.
You also want to check social media sites, especially the ones that have a direct impact on your online business. It’s easier to build your brand with name uniformity.
Clarify if names have trademarks. There are several tools that can show you if a site’s name is already trademarked across most platforms.
Note that the problem isn’t if it’s the same name only. Too similar names can also cause legal problems, depending on the context and niche. Trademark issues can be expensive to sort, and you might end up losing your website anyway.
Avoid other people’s trademarks through a trademark search.
Learn how to trademark your website name and logo once you have your site up and running. This is important because even if you had it first, someone else can trademark it and cause you problems.
Ideate Using Domain Name Generators
With over 360 million domain names registers on the internet, it’s no wonder that people think all good names are gone. Sometimes, you need a little help to get more creative.
You can get this by using domain name generators, which can significantly cut down your search time. These free tools will instantly provide hundreds of ideas for your ideal online business’s domain name.
Here are some tools we like :
- Nameboy: As one of the oldest domain name generator tools, Nameboy is extremely reliable and easy to use. This site asks you to type your keyword in and provides you with hundreds of options to choose from
- Lean Domain Search: Type in your keyword and watch it get matched with other relevant keywords to bring you the best suggestions possible
- Wordoid: Remember our tip about making up words? Wordoid is the tool to use if you’re stuck here. The site helps you to create unique ideas by coming up with something that contains the word in some form.
Register Your Domain Quickly!
Once you decide on the perfect domain name for your online business with the above tips in mind, go for it. Don’t linger over the decision because if you check a couple of weeks down the line, the name might be taken already.
Just like real estate, online businesses are always looking for the next catchy domain name to acquire. And since it’s relatively cheap to buy one, it’s sometimes best to lock that name down once you’ve found it.