If you have a website, you need a domain name—and you don’t want to rely on some generic URL created through a free Web hosting site. A custom, well-crafted domain name makes you look professional and tech-savvy.
As important as the initial impression you make, however, is that once you own your domain name, it’s yours. So, you can take it anywhere you go, even if you change Web hosts or switch to an on-premise server. On the other hand, if you don’t own your domain name, when you switch, you will have to create a new URL, and that means saying “Goodbye” to the brand presence you’ve built online.
So, how do you choose a domain name? Typically, it’s the name of your business, but you also want to keep these rules in mind:
Do your research
It’s critical that you ensure someone else hasn’t bought, trademarked or copyrighted the domain name. You also want to make sure that another domain name isn’t too similar to yours. You can conduct a quick search on most hosting websites, for example, Name.com, to see if your desired domain name has been registered. Remember people will actually buy up domain names, hoping to make a fast buck later, so conduct due diligence.
Think long term
You will be tied to your URL, so think about where you are going, not just where you are presently. If you specialize in copywriting, but you know you eventually want to expand into full-on digital marketing strategy, keep that in mind as you create your domain name. Don’t pigeon hole yourself into a specific niche or product or service area.
Choose the right extension
If it’s available, always go with “.com.” It’s the most popular and easiest to remember. Other popular extensions include:
- .net. for technical websites
- .info for informational sites
- .org for nonprofit sites
- .biz business or commercial sites
Keep it short — and easy to type
With Google, most people will just search your business name to find you. Still, assume some people will type in or write down the full URL. You want it to be memorable, so keep it super simple and short and make it pretty obvious. Be clever with your marketing copy and ads; be straightforward with your domain name. For example, don’t abbreviate or shorten words (e.g., entertainment to Ntertainment) or people will likely misspell it.
Integrate keywords if you can
If you can integrate the words people are likely to use when searching for your product online, it will help with your ranking on search engines. For example, if your business is Ben’s Floor Repair, you could integrate “FloorRepair” into the domain. It’s not always possible, given your business name, so don’t force it or make your domain name too long just to squeeze in keywords.
Steer clear of numbers and hyphens
People won’t know whether to spell out the number or use a numerical, and dashes can easily be forgotten.
Keep your city name out of it
Some experts suggest working in your city or state name for SEO purposes, but it can be pretty limiting. If you don’t intend to expand beyond your town, city or state, you may be OK using it in your domain name. However, if you have ambitions to grow, just leave it out.
While everyone wants to save a buck, it’s in your best interest to purchase several versions and extensions of your domain name, including misspelled versions. You want to make sure that people, even if they key in the wrong URL, find you. Your competitors, disgruntled ex-employees or even unhappy customers could purchase similar domain names and use them to intentionally harm your business, so spend the extra money now to prevent problems later.