How to Choose a Domain Name
You’ve decided to start your own business and thought of a perfect name for it. You might even consider copywriting
it. The next step is choosing a fitting domain to launch your services online. Domains names can be many
things: long, short, quirky, whatever fits. Logically, whatever you go for, the domain name you pick
should complement your business or service.
Given the hundreds of thousands of websites in existence, the logical domain name might have been snapped
up by someone else. When your first pick isn’t available, you have to settle for a different name. This
is the real struggle behind choosing a domain name, finding a viable alternative.
Tip 1 - Keep it Simple
Length - Successful site owners swear by the KISS method (keep it simple stupid). We’re
talking short and memorable. Long, complex domain names are off putting to read and risk being misspelt or mistyped. On average, the most successful websites have nine character domain names and range from one to two words. Pinterest and Paypal are popular websites who have succeeded in keeping it short and punchy.
Pronunciation - If you have to spell your domain name out to your friends, you’re heading
for trouble. People misspell domain names routinely, especially if they are hard to figure out.
Go for something easy to pronounce, thus easy to spell to avoid losing traffic this way. There’s
nothing wrong with creative spelling, Flickr for example is a successful website. On the other
hand, can you imagine Siri understanding terms like this? For this reason, Flickr purchased Flicker.com
to redirect their misplaced traffic.
Avoid hyphens and numbers - Non alphabetic characters are often misunderstood. Imagine
hearing a website name with a number. You won’t know if you should spelled it out (seven) use
a numeral (7). Similarly, dashes can lead to misunderstandings, do you write out dash or use
a dash or miss it out completely?
If these are essential to your domain name, be sure to register all the different variations to be
on the safe side. Cola-Cola is an good example of this in practice. Type Cocacola.com into google
only to be redirected to their trademarked namesake coca-cola.com.
Intuitive - Be logical, give your site an intuitive domain name which gives a good idea
of what you’re all about. Seriouseats.com is an excellent of an instinctive domain for a website
all about food. Potential customers can reasonably predict what they’ll find at that site.
An added benefit of an instantly intuitive domain name, you’re instantly more memorable. It’s bound
to stick in people's minds when they can grasp your concept from the domain name alone. Reconsider
your choice if you find people struggle to pronounce your business name once seen written down.
Keep it local - If your business is strictly local, why not include the city or state
in your domain? This will not only be instantly recognizable, but easy to remember. Las Vegas
advertising firm fatbeardstudios.com changed to fatbead.vegas as soon as the .vegas gTLD was
made available. Similarly, the official Eiffel Tower website moved from their Tour-Eiffel.Fr
domain to even more location specific Tour-Eiffel.Paris once the .paris extension dropped.
Tip 2 - Find the Best Domain Name Extension
Bias toward .com - We’d recommend you go with .com wherever possible. .com domains are
the most recognized and websites with this appendix are ranked better in search engines. The
biggest global brands and organizations are registered with a .com domain from the New York Times
Alternative extensions - When your domain name is not available in .com, or out of your
price range, use an alternative suffix. The availability of thousands of new top-level domains
makes it easier to create a short and memorable name which isn’t always possible with .com.
You’ll find a larger inventory of domains with the relatively new top-level domain extensions such
as .coffee, .me, and .info for example. These might even be a smarter choice for your brand than
a .com domain. Consider the photographic agency Behold Photography. Their original domain bhldphotos.com
was less memorable than their current behold.photography address.
Localized TLDs - Going with a known country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is a viable
alternative if your name is unavailable with .com. Purchasing ccTLDs is also wise for when your
company grows and you expand internationally. You’ll want country specific domain extensions
for your potential new customer base.
Buying these ahead of time will not only protect you from competitors doing so, it will improve your
sites appeal to your international customers. ccTLDs exist for pretty much every geographic region.
For example, the ccTLD for the United States is .us, .ca represents Canada, .uk for the United
Kingdom, and so on.
Tip 3 - Be SEO Aware
Search engine optimization, commonly known as SEO sounds more daunting than it is. It’s widely practiced
method of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine
results. Your domain name should be chosen with SEO in mind. Using keywords in your domain is a search
engine ranking factor (which explains domains such as where-to-buy-the-best-pizza-in-new-york.com for
However, you must tread lightly when it comes to optimizing your domain name for search engines. There are
SEO best practices to stick to make sure google recognizes your website and avoid a penalty for keyword
Related Keywords - Use keywords related to the business or the services you offer. If
you sell laptops, include the word laptop in your domain name. This will not only make more sense
to your customers, but serves as a signal to Google. The more positive signals you give a search
engine, the more likely it is that they will rank your site well.
Use Broad Keywords - While experts often say that having keywords in your domain can
help your SEO, It’s also not wise to bend over backward to include exact phrase matches. They
might deflect from your brand name. Google is also pretty hot on spammy tactics so they’ve reduced
the importance of keyword prominence in the URL. It also doesn’t give a good impression to internet
users, who have come to the idea that such sites are low quality. Think about it, who would you
think is more professional, TennisPoint.com, or TennisAdviceforCountryClubPros.com? Our advice
is to avoid generic keyword strings like this. They won’t benefit your search engine rankings
or your customers.
Tip 4 - Use Your Creativity
Length - Don’t be afraid to abbreviate. It's ok to append or modify your first choice
domain if it's not available. The only problem with short URLs is that they are more than likely
taken already. If your brand name contains a common word or phrase it will be more difficult,
whereas a made up words such as Netflix and Whatsapp are short, unique and memorable in place
of using a formula like common keywords + films or messenger + app.
It's also good practice to shorten an otherwise lengthy domain name, the fewer characters your domain
has, the easier it is to type. Short URLs are more catchy and easier to stick in someone’s head.
Let’s say your brand name is ChelseaPizza. Your restaurant is already up and running somewhere
in New York and you want to go online as well. It’s ok to do something like TheChelseaPizza.com,
ChelseaPizza.nyc or Chelsea.Pizza if the .com TLD is unavailable.
Distinct branding - Represent your brand and be memorable. Remember, your domain name
is the face of your business - in URL format. It’s no easy task to build a brand that stands
out from your competitors and sounds appealing. Make sure your domain name sounds like brandesque.
For instance, cola-cola.com is leagues ahead of inferior options such as coca-cola-drink.com