The first domain name was registered more than 30 years ago. Since then, over 330 million domains have come into circulation. With that kind of competition, choosing the right domain name for your business is imperative.
A memorable domain name makes all the difference when it comes to creating a successful online presence. In simplest terms, a domain name gives people an easy-to-remember name and address for your website.
Long, complicated domain names are hard to manage and easy to forget. In addition, there are many reasons to spend time crafting your domain name.
Domain names establish a unique identity for your website and represent your brand. Organizations should choose a domain name that corresponds to their brand name so that users can find them easily on the internet.
Usually, a generic domain name defines a general category. You want to avoid those unless your company has an established brand based on a generic name (such as cars.com).
Most of the time, though, companies need to choose specific domain names that identify their company or brand.
On the other hand, a targeted domain name can attract visitors to your website. For example, if you register a domain name that matches your business concept instead of your business name, you could attract web surfers.
Let’s say you own a music store but register a domain name like Grandpiano.com. You will invite visitors who were searching for pianos or piano tuning.
A strong domain name does more than identify your brand. It serves to strengthen your brand’s credibility and enhance your domain SEO.
In short, having a dedicated domain name makes your business look professional. For smaller companies, it’s tempting to create a website using a free service, especially during startup.
If you’ve ever published through a free web hosting site, you know your URL will have the host’s company name featured rather than yours. For instance, web sites published through Weebly look like this: “www.weebly.com/yourbusiness.”
Generic web addresses don’t inspire confidence in the brand. A registered domain name identifies you as a formal business.
It also lets customers know that you’re adept at technology. Further, it allows you to control your website and make changes as your business grows.
Owning the domain name means you can transfer to a new host, or switch to your own server for in-house hosting. Customers won’t notice any of these changes.
But they will if you don’t own your domain name because switching hosts can mean taking a new URL. Such a change would destroy the branding you have built upon that first web address.
A domain name builds your brand by increasing awareness of your brand. If your domain name complements your company’s name, it amplifies your brand. It makes it easier for visitors to remember your site and later return to it.
The right domain name will be easy to remember and easy to pass along to friends. A memorable domain name has everything to do with generating traffic to your web site, building your brand, and increasing sales.
Have you done a Google search for your company brand? Most companies who invest in SEO analysis have done this.
They understand the importance of knowing what kind of resources are ranking when you search your company’s name or domain name. It’s possible that you could struggle to rank even using your own company name.
Your competitors may logically have similar names. If you’re reading this and haven’t yet decided on a domain name, Google your top choices and see what your search results are.
Take some tie to choose a unique name that makes SEO ranking easy.
Google AdWords has an Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool you can use to see what ranks for your domain name. It shows ranking for other countries and different Google versions as well.
While keywords are important for SEO, you don’t need a domain name laden with keywords. A creative brand name/domain with fewer keywords in it is the better choice.
For example, if you were building a business that serves as a guide for finding the best nightclubs in Chicago, you may want to choose a domain called chicagogrooves.com over chicagonightclubguide.com.
This way, you have one important keyword (Chicago) included in the domain. Though, it also avoids spammy SEO. It creates a memorable domain name with branding in mind.
Keep in mind that Google deployed the Exact Match Domain (EMD) update back in 2012. That update made it so that low-quality exact match domains didn’t rank well in searches.
All the more reason to come up with a non-spammy domain name for your brand.
The Top-Level Domain (TLD) is the latter part of your domain name. It’s the part comes right after the “dot.” TLDs fall into two categories, which are generic and country-specific TLDs. TLDs are sometimes called domain suffixes as well.
Some examples of popular TLDs that you well know are .net, .com, .biz, .edu., org, and .gov. The TLD often represents the purpose and type of domain.
Government websites have the .gov TLD, for instance. Country-specific TLDs identify the country of origin. For example, Canadian TLDs end in .ca. and United States sites can end in .us
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) handles domains and IP addresses.
Needless to say, choosing the perfect domain name is an essential part of establishing your online presence.
Here are some checklist items to keep in mind as you make that critical decision. They all reflect and expand upon the principles we have discussed thus far.
A primary branding fundamental dictates that the domain name should either match the company name or complement it.
Having that correlation appear in the URL means people will be able to find your website easily through a web search or by typing in the browser.
Brand characteristics are synonymous with domain name requirements. Your domain name should contain the elements of a strong brand.
A good brand name is unique and meaningful. What is that one thing that separates your brand from your competitors? If possible, you can make that part of your domain name.
Your domain name should also be meaningful and clear. It should reflect your company name and/or services. If applicable, it can even be inspiring so that new visitors will explore your site and become customers.
Is it relatable to your customers as well as your brand? If you’ve done your homework, then you know your target audience. You know the demographics of your audience, including their interests and communication preferences.
Your domain name, like your brand name, should appeal to them.
A domain name does you no good if people don’t remember it. Your name should be evocative or catchy so that it sticks to the memory. Sometimes that’s hard to do without wandering into humorous or kitschy.
Most of the time, your brand name and your domain name are the same. If this is the case, then you’ve already done your due diligence coming up with your brand name, which should be memorable as well.
As you type or write a few domain names out, read them out loud. How does it sound? Is it a mouthful or easy to say? If it’s easy to say, then it’s easy to remember.
A catchy domain name will be shared. It should also be easy to spell and without hyphens or other special characters. It’s difficult to remember where those fall into a domain name.
Additionally, the domain name should be short and to the point. A short URL is appealing and, again, easy to remember. It looks more professional on business cards. It’s also easier to manually type into the browser.
Which TLD is best for your domain? Several will no doubt apply to your brand. Here are some things to help narrow down your choices.
If you have a global audience, then a .com is more appropriate than a country-specific TLD. If you choose .ie because you are based in Ireland, many searchers will think your services are only available in the in Ireland.
On the other hand, if your goal is to target a specific, geographic demographic, then a country-specific TLD is an excellent way to signal to your audience.
Google doesn’t give any priority to keywords within a TLD, so your choice needn’t be based on SEO algorithms.
Alternately, you can go for an industry-specific TLD as well. If you are an IT solutions company, for instance, you can select a .net TLD. If you operate a nonprofit, then .org clearly identifies that.
Run a search to see if another company has your domain name with a different TLD. The domain name you want may be available. Though, you’ll run into search result problems if another company owns the same with one, save for a different TLD.
The ideal situation is to have a totally unique domain name. In that vein, you may want to buy all the domain names with the relevant TLDs. That way, competitor companies won’t be able to acquire them.
So, if you own the marleyssweetshop.com domain, you may want to purchase the .us domain as well. You may even want to play around with simple misspellings of your domain name and buy those as well.
You can publish a redirect from the other domains to lead visitors to your main URL.
You can purchase your domain name from a domain registrar that is different from your hosting company. Though, it’s often easier to have the same service provider handle both, if only for ease of accounting.
While you are determining your domain name, it’s also an apt time to decide on your social media handle. It may be that the domain name you want is available, but the corresponding social media profile name is not.
You may not be ready to set up accounts on all the social media platforms. But, take the time now to see what’s available so that you can create a streamlined presence across all platforms.
Secure your social media handles at the same time you purchase your domain name.
Before purchasing your domain name, a final, important check is to ensure that no one else has a registered trademark on the name.
You may have already done this when you registered your business. If your domain name is the same as your business name, you have done your homework.
Though, take the time to check one more time and include the TLD just to cover everything. Also, consider trademarking the name for yourself.
That will secure it as your own and allow you to avoid possible copyright issues in the future. Trademarking prevents competitors from using your name, even in AdWords campaigns.
There are online domain name generators available to help you create an effective domain name for your business. Domain name generators are a handy tool to use if your preferred domain name is already taken.
Such a tool can help you create a similar one that is specialized and also has appropriate keywords.
The 330 million domain names is a fluid number. There are no doubt thousands more that went online from the time you began reading this article. Even if you’re not ready to publish your website, now is the time to secure your domain name.
Dedicate some time to create your unique domain name. Be creative and use whatever tools you’d like to come up with the perfect domain name that will carry your company forward.
If you have any questions about buying domain names, please contact us.