Before you can get your online business off the ground, you need to purchase a domain name. But which domain name should you choose? Here are some things to consider before making that important decision.
No matter what type of site you run, the .com extension is still the gold standard. If you just can’t find a remotely appealing .com version of your desired domain name, only then should you consider one of the other TLDs (top-level domains), such as .net, .org, or .biz.
Keep It Simple
The shorter a domain name is, the more likely users are to remember and use it. The shorter your domain, the easier it will be for customers to type it in — and to type it correctly. Your domain can include up to 63 characters, but use characters sparingly. Can you really expect your customers to sit down and type a 60-plus-word Web address?
Make It Snappy
A domain name should be easy to remember, recognize, and spell. If your company is established, and your customers know your name, try to get a domain name that matches your company name.
If your company’s name isn’t available as a domain, or if it’s too long, look for a domain name that describes what you do or what you sell. For example, if your company’s name is Corner Shoe Market, you could register cornershoemarket.com and qualityshoes.com. Registering a domain that describes what your company does can also increase your chances of being indexed by search engines, which can result in more traffic to your site.
Sit down and brainstorm to find several different variations of a similar domain name. That will increase your chances of finding an available name. Using our above example, qualityshoes.com, you could try cheapqualityshoes.com, qualityshoesforcheap.com, or several different variations.
Time to Get Creative
Still no luck? Try hyphenating, abbreviating, or using initials. Going back to our example, instead of cornershoemarket.com, you could check cornershoe-market.com, cshoemarket.com, or csmarket.com.
Be aware that the best idea may come from somebody else. Ask friends, family members, employees, or coworkers for suggestions, and try your prospective ideas out on them before you make your final decision.
More Is Better … Sometimes
You don’t have to settle for just one domain, either. Most Web hosts support domain pointers, which can direct traffic from multiple domain names to a single site. If your host employs pointers, you could register your business name, a more descriptive name, or several different permutations of both, and have them all point to one site.
But be careful before you start registering domains at random. If you spread your online presence too thin across many different URLs, you risk diluting your brand. If users type one thing into their browser and end up on a site with a completely different name, they might get confused and leave. Make sure you manage your user’s expectations and reinforce your brand throughout all parts of your site — or sites.
Another important consideration: Unless done properly, search engines may penalize you for maintaining multiple domains. Be sure to handle redirects with search engine approved techniques.
Good domain names are getting harder and harder to find, especially since so many speculators have registered large numbers of domains in the hopes of reselling them later. However, with a little creativity, you can find the domain name that’s right for you.
Ultimately, your domain name is the first thing customers will see when they are looking for your site. Try to keep this in mind as you register your name, and never forget that an easy-to-remember domain name is worth its weight in gold.