While there are many different things to consider when setting up a website, the domain name is probably one of the more important as it is effectively your public face. It can be a tricky balancing act taking into consideration the activities of the business and domain names available. You may already have a company name/brand name in your mind only to find the domain name has been taken. We will now take a look at some of the factors you need to take into consideration when choosing the best domain name for your business.
1. Make it memorable
At the end of the day you want your business to be recognized, people to remember you and come back time and time again. Therefore, it is imperative that you make your domain name memorable but try not to be “too clever” because this can backfire – as many entrepreneurs have found to their cost. In the past you may have heard people talk about the “radio test” which you should apply to your domain name/company name. This effectively gauges how memorable your domain name is when somebody hears it on the radio and how easy it would be for them to type it into their browser.
This is also the moment that you take a look at your domain name on paper and ensure that it portrays exactly what you wish. Over the years we have seen some major errors by companies acquiring domain names which can read slightly different when you see the full domain name. For example:-
- Auctionshit.com which is the website for a company called Auctions Hit (do you see how this could be misunderstood?)
- IPanywhere.com which is the domain name for Internet Protocol Anywhere (if you slowly repeat the domain name in your head you will see what we mean.)
- Childrenswear.co.uk which is probably a very popular and valuable website but do children swear?
Make sure you check all potential issues with your domain name from the way it is spelt, to how it sounds on the radio, and how it looks when all of the words are brought together. The last thing you want to do is invest your hard earned money into a brand which may need to be changed at some point in the future. Simple oversights can be extremely costly.
2. Ensure it is easy to type
You will no doubt have noticed in the past that many companies have tried to be clever with the spelling of their company names to make them “trendy”. For example the domain name sportcarz.com may look trendy, may catch your eye and is something different. However, if you heard the company name on the radio, or your friend told you about it, you would automatically replace the Z with an S which will take you to a totally different website. You have spent money on advertising and branding but while you are building up the business, who would know to use a Z rather than an S for cars?
Other issues to take into consideration include:-
- Avoid the use of numbers in your domain name as they can be difficult to remember and cause confusion – for example, do you use the numeric or the word?
- Using hyphens is a definite no-no when choosing a domain name because if you tell someone your domain name it is not as easy as you think to communicate the hyphen. If someone else holds the domain name without the hyphen there is every chance they will receive your traffic in error.
- As with trendy words, many people have tried to use homophones in their domain name/company names. These are words which sound the same phonetically but are spelt different such as die and dye, time and thyme. Avoid any potential confusion regarding the spelling of your domain name at all costs.
3. Keep it short and sweet
Keep it short and sweet, as this will be easier to remember and something which can generally roll off the tongue. Nothing more to say! Did you see what we did there?
4. Consider an exact match domain
The subject of exact match domain names is an interesting one as many people tried to incorporate keywords such as loans, credit cards and mortgages into their domain names in the past. The hope was that Google would match the keywords in the domain name with keyword searches and rank the relevant websites higher. There is evidence to suggest that in years gone by Google did give some credence to exact match domain names but not so today. However, that is not necessarily the end of the story!
If you are using pay-per-click to advertise your website and you are selling a particular product such as credit cards then the term credit card in your domain name can encourage trust from visitors. They are looking for credit cards and the term credit card is in your domain name, therefore they automatically tie the two up and click on the advert. You will learn that there are relatively thin margins between success and failure when it comes to the world of e-commerce. If you can improve your website visibility by just 1%, that may well put you above your competitors and bring in additional sales.
5. Which countries do you want to target?
The idea of targeting specific countries with your domain name is an interesting one and can give you food for thought. Even though there are an array of different country domain name extensions such as .co.uk (UK), .ie (Ireland) and .ca (Canada) for example, many people still consider the .com extension to be the most valuable. Interestingly, this extension does not necessarily indicate a specific country but gives the impression that your business is trading across the globe.
There will be occasions where it may be sensible to focus on a particular country for example the UK and .co.uk. This extension gives the impression that your business is based in the UK and the majority of sales come from the UK. In reality a specific country domain name extension does not stop you trading in other parts of the world. Indeed there is an argument that the vast majority of surfers are now blind to the domain name extension. If your website comes up when they search for a particular term or phrase then there is every chance they will visit your site – no matter where you are based.
6. Ensure your domain name is free
It may seem obvious to suggest that you should check your domain name is free before you begin naming your business and branding it. However, over the years we have seen many entrepreneurs start businesses and almost as an afterthought look to buy the domain name when the hard work has been done. Can you imagine their dismay to find their preferred domain name and domain name extension has been taken by somebody else?
They have invested time, money and effort into building a particular brand and company name only to find they may have to compromise with the domain name. We have seen this problem on numerous occasions in the corporate world when companies change name or perhaps hive-off subsidiaries as a separate entity. This kind of schoolboy error can prove expensive with many domain name investors often one step ahead of the entrepreneurs. When you approach them to acquire “your domain name” they know that you need it, you have invested time money and effort already, therefore they will demand top dollar.
Always be cautious
When considering various business names and associated domain names, it is sensible to check that the ideas you have in your mind are not copyrighted or trademarked by anybody else. We have also seen many entrepreneurs have their fingers burnt when attempting to be “clever” and brand their business and domain name in a similar manner to a leading company. This is a potential recipe for disaster because large multinational companies will not let you exploit their company name, brand or trademarks. It may seem like a short cut to success – piggybacking on the back of a multinational to build up traffic – but it is an extremely dangerous strategy!
7. Consider a business type domain name extension
While historically the extension associated with your domain name tended to reflect the country in which you were based, or your main trading market, things have changed in recent years. We have seen the release of an array of business extensions such as:-
- .Real Estate
The beauty of adding a business-related extension to your domain name means that immediately those who see your domain name know exactly what you do. There may also be the opportunity to incorporate your company name into your domain name including the extension. For example, a company called XYZ Investments may find the domain name .XYZ. Investments very useful.
There are many things to consider when looking at acquiring the best domain name for your business/brand. You need to ensure it is memorable but easy to type, keep the spelling basic but try to build your own specific brand. Avoid the simple errors which have been so costly for entrepreneurs in the past and, above all, do not automatically assume your chosen domain name will be free. Check domain name availability before you decide upon the name of your business and invest time, money and effort in branding.