When you’re choosing a domain name for your business you can feel like a kid in a candy store – overwhelmed with almost endless options and trying to figure out which lolly will taste the best.
That’s until you realise that someone’s already emptied the jar of the lolly you really want – at which time you drop to the floor, kicking your legs and screaming. Anyhow, that’s a worse-case scenario. Dust yourself off and let’s get ourselves a fairytale ending.
1. Bag your business name
First things first, if you’ve decided on a business name and it’s available, grab it straight away. Favour the .com extension, or a relevant extension like .com.au. If it’s only available with an obscure extension like .cc or .at then let it slide – there’s little value in these (plus they may be reserved for citizens of other countries). Even if you’re not sure if it works as a domain name, it stops someone setting up a copycat website when yours gets ultra, mega-successful.
2. Keep it memorable, relevant and easy
If you’ve chosen a business name that also works well as a domain name, and it’s available, then go ahead and register it and take the afternoon off. If not, get brainstorming. What are some keywords that your clients, or potential clients, would use when they are searching for your business? Ask friends or helpful clients if you can, as their perspectives may open up new possibilities.
The key to a great domain name is one that is highly usable. If it’s memorable, relevant and easy, your target audience will have an effortless time interacting with it.
An example: one of the world’s most famous typography companies is Hoefler & Frere-Jones. They could have chosen a domain name that included their business name – but it’s a little cumbersome with a potential range of confusing variations of spellings and symbols. They instead built their website at www.typography.com. Memorable, relevant and easy; and as a bonus doesn’t require any tweaking when the business partnership sours and the business name changes, which sadly is the current situation of this company.
3. Keep it under 20 characters
If your chosen domain name is particularly catchy, there might not be a problem with increasing the length a little, but in general, short is sweet.
Consider, too, that you’re likely to add to the length when you bung on an email address.
So veronicamaineflowersandaccessories.com.au becomes firstname.lastname@example.org and by the time they type that into their ‘To’ field, your clients will have totally forgotten what it was they wanted to order from you.
If you’ve got your heart set on something that feels a little unwieldy, cast an editor’s eye over it. Are there any filler words you can trim out? It’s not meant to be an entire sentence and you won’t be admonished by your Year 11 English teacher. Can you change the form of the verb or noun to remove any non-essential suffix or prefix to make it catchier?
4. Avoid awkward word/letter combinations
When you’re forced to squish words together some unexpected things can happen. This can range from the disastrous to the fiddly, such as having a letter double up or a tangle of confusing vowels.
Check out this list on BoredPanda and you’ll see exactly how bad things can get.
5. Consider search engines
While every tip in this post makes good SEO sense, it’s worth just remembering that Google uses the domain name as an indicator of relevancy and authority when deciding how to index your site. So avoid any human ‘in-jokes’ that a bot is unlikely to get, yet don’t be condescending to the bots.
If you call your website www.shoesshoesandmoreshoes.com, a bot is likely to consider you a spammer and turn up its nose at you (as an aside, can you see how the double ss creates confusion in that web address?).
6. Help! My dream domain is taken. Is there any hope?
Back to the tanty in the lolly shop. If someone has already registered your ideal domain name and has invested in a website already, they’re unlikely to be ditching it anytime soon.
If you find though that the domain is registered but it’s not being used, it’s worth doing some investigation into the status of the domain name to see if it’s coming up for renewal. If the registration expires, the domain will become listed on a ‘drop list’ and available to a new registrant. If your timing is right, you might get lucky.
In the meantime, register the next best thing. You can always redirect a website if you end up with your dream domain down the track.
Did you land your dream domain? How did you choose it? Give us the scoop in the comments below.