So you’re launching a new business. You don’t need a chalk talk on the importance of having a professional-looking, functional website.
But before your website goes live on the web, it needs a domain name to sit on. The domain name is your business’s digital home address. It’s the part between the “https” and extension (“.com”), such as “business2community”.
Your domain name is at the heart of your brand identity on the web, so you want to ensure you pick a name that not only fits your business, but is also easy to find, remember, and promote. And if you pick a not-so-great domain name, it can be a hassle to switch to a new one later on, without impacting your branding and search rankings.
But choosing a domain name can be just as tricky as choosing a company name — it requires a lot of careful consideration. And with nearly 2 billion websites out there, the competition for the perfect domain name is greater than ever.
To help ease the process, let’s see a few quick yet crucial tips on…
How to choose a great domain name
To help you out, here are five key tips to choose a great domain name that continues to drive business in the long run.
1. Use the right extension
In general, .com domains do better in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) and are the most familiar to users. It’s still the most established and credible domain name extension. So all things considered, go for the .com extension if it’s available.
Other common top-level domain extensions include .net, .co, .org, .net, .io, etc., which you can consider if the .com domain extension isn’t available.
If you’re a SaaS startup, for instance, you can consider .io — which is a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) that’s popular with modern software startups and browser games/apps.
2. Keep it short, memorable, and on-brand
Bigger is not always better, especially when it comes to domain names. Shorter names are simpler to remember and type for your visitors.
Also, it’s easier to stand out when there’s less to read. So try to keep it a maximum of two to three words, hovering around 6-14 characters.
Unfortunately, the short, catchy domain name you want was taken a time ago and sold for thousands of dollars. Try these domain hacks if your domain name isn’t available while focusing on keeping the name in sync with your brand.
3. Avoid hyphens, numbers, and doubled letters
Hyphens, numbers, and doubled letters all serve as snags for people trying to reach your website directly. It’s not exactly instinctive to keep these characters in mind, is it? Neither is it mobile-typing friendly.
Having these elements means inviting typos and user frustration. Especially if you’re hoping to rely on word-of-mouth, it could be harder to convey the domain name when it’s made up of hyphens, numbers, or doubled letters for no good reason.
4. Include keywords if possible
Having keywords that describe your business or its product/services (such as “coffee” or “repairs”) in your domain name does help improve search engine rankings and helps customers realize what you offer at a glance.
But keep in mind that keywords are nothing more than a mere bonus. Keywords shouldn’t be included at the expense of length, originality, or perceived brand integrity of your website.
That is, prioritize having a branded domain name that’s unique, punchy, and memorable.
For example, heard of HubSpot? It’s unique, catchy, short, easy to type, spell, and remember. The company certainly wouldn’t have succeeded with a keyword-oriented name like marketinghub.com. Still, if you search for the super-competitive keyword “marketing,” HubSpot is one of the top results.
5. Target your geographic area
If you’re a strictly local business, then this applies to you. Consider including your city or state in your domain name to aid recall for local customers.
For instance, something like thenycgarage.com helps you build a customer base that’s primarily based in New York.
Tools for generating domain names
Coming up with and finalizing a domain name is time-consuming, but can be made a tad easier with some free tools.
So while you may not get your final answer with these, the following tools are sure to give you ideas to build upon:
Your domain name not only forms your brand’s first impression but also helps with revisits and rankings.
While you may find it difficult to acquire the perfect domain, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a great domain name that drives results. Here’s a quick recap of the best practices:
- Make it short and memorable.
- Keep it mobile-typing friendly.
- Include keywords if possible.
- Think of a brandable domain name, as they’re easier to land than broad terms.
- Choose the right extension. While .com is still preferred, the newer, cheaper extensions are becoming more popular and are worth considering.
- Use a domain name generator tool for kickstarting the ideation process.
So, have you come across brands that have a creative domain name? Do you have any tips of your own? Drop a comment below!