10 Tips for Choosing the Right Domain Name

Domain boom infographic

On the Web, your domain name is your identity. It’s how people find you, the name clients pass to others. Needless to say, nothing is more important. Give your businesses a step in the right direction for picking the perfect domain name – here are 10 rules to follow to ensure that you pick the right domain name.

1. Unique

Your domain name is a huge part of your organization’s identity – so make sure that it is as unique as your organization.

Don’t pick something that is easily confused with a competitor’s site or could lead to a different company all together; make it unique. Try to avoid pluralization (ie; greatshoe.com vs. greatshoes.com) because your actual name is already taken – this will only lead to lost traffic for you and a potential higher bounce rate due to people landing on your site accidentally.

2. Easy to remember

Short and sweet is the name of the game here.

The more letters and words that make up your domain, the higher the odds that someone will get it wrong or forget it. Also, make your domain name relevant to your business so that it is easy to remember. In the article How to Name Your Business, here’s what folks from Grasshopper said about having your name relevant to your biz:

Names like Kaggle are fun, and distinct, but … wait … what does Kaggle do again? If your company does something unique, then you might want to stick with a conventional name. Otherwise, you might confuse people.

When people hear or see Garment Valet, they get the hunch that someone’s about to do their laundry. The name Unbounce is another great example, as the company helps reduce bounce rates for landing pages (effectively unbouncing them).

3. Use a domain tool

There are a slew of domain name tools available for free on the Web. These tools can help to break writers block and suggest some quality potential domain names for your review.

For example Dot-o-mator has two offerings – an advanced Web 2.0 generator and its basic generator that creates names based off of prefixes and suffixes either from user-generated lists or various pre-built lists. DomainGroovy.com creates a list of potential domain names from user-input keywords and also offers on-site domain purchases.

There are countless domain tools out there – and all for free.

4. Avoid copyright infringement

Don’t use a trademarked or copyrighted phrase for your domain name: just don’t. Before you register your domain, run it through the free checkers available at http://www.copyright.gov/records/ and http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/ to ensure you’re in the clear – it’s well worth the extra few minutes.

5. Keyword relevant

In the past, having at least one of your keywords in your domain name was paramount, however, due to the Google EMD update, this is an outdated rule. The Google EMD update – short for Exact Match Domain – is a filter that Google launched in 2012 to ensure that sites were not receiving elevated search result rankings simply because their domain name included a relevant keyword. That having been said, it is still a good idea to theme your domain name around a relevant keyword, as it will give first time visitors an immediate idea as to exactly what you offer.

6. Write it out and read it repeatedly before purchasing

One of the great things about a domain name is that it’s yours forever (as long as you keep up the payments, anyways). One of the bad things about a domain name is that you can’t change it after you purchase it. That said, if your business is named Dickson Web, carefully consider your domain name before purchasing – www.dicksonweb.com is likely to attract a whole other kind of audience.

Avoid a PR catastrophe by writing your potential domain name out and reading it repeatedly before making the purchase. Do one better and run it by a few good friends or family members before committing.

7. Avoid punctuation and numbers

Punctuation is confusing – simply put. Most reputable URLs are plain text and putting in a hyphen is only going to increase your chances of losing traffic to other sites; after all people are used to typing plain text in the URL bar. Also, avoid numbers whenever possible – though there may be an understandable exception to the rule if your business name includes a number.

8. Buy other similar domains and use it as redirects

When you consider the investment you have already made in your organization, the $35 a year a domain name costs is nothing. Protect your brand and capture all potentially misdirected traffic by also purchasing the domains that are similar to your actual domain name.

9. Be wary of the domain extension

There are .com, .net, .org, .biz, and a slew of other domain extensions. While .net may save you a few bucks, at the end of the day is it really worth the savings? While there are some cases that a .biz may have merit – and certainly .org has its purposes – most of the time, a .com is going to be your best bet. Don’t fall into purchasing an off extension simply because your domain is already taken as a .com – instead, rethink your domain name unless there is a more prevalent reason for choosing an alternate extension.

10. Be direct

Obviously, there are certain phrases or words that are bound to draw people in… but unless they’re your target audience, all the traffic in the world won’t make a difference. Make sure that your domain name is to the point and direct about who you are and/ or what it is that you provide.

Infographic credit: CIRCA