Whether your aim is a new website for personal use, business or anything else, a defining step in the creation of any online presence is the choice of the domain name. This is a decision that is often not easy to change further down the line, as it can have an impact on branding, search rankings and various other factors you may not consider early on. However, it is imperative to get it right first time, and our 10 tips below should put every new website owner on the right track to get the name right and to free them up to make the resulting website as great as it possibly can be.
1. Make it Memorable
As each day passes, more and more domain names are registered, reducing the number that remains for everyone else to register. As such, it becomes more and more difficult to find a name that both suits your brand and sticks in the mind of potential visitors. However, it is worth it to take the time to find something that visitors remember for future use and that they can access easily. While sites like Fiverr can cope with misspellings, it also makes sense to stick to dictionary spellings wherever possible.
2. Keep the Domain Name Short
The longer your domain name, the more opportunities direct visitors have to make a mistake when they type it in. That can immediately result in a lost visit, and therefore a lost sale, and this is naturally not something you want. Best practice tends to involve domain names that are 15 characters or less, and while this is not a hard and fast rule, it should have a positive impact on the memorability of your site and the number of visits.
3. Decide between Keywords and Branding
There are two overall schools of thought with the choice of specific domain names. You tend to either want to go for keywords or a wider brand. Specific keywords can often provide a timely search engine boost when you start out, but other factors eventually take over. With a branded name that is not specifically about one topic, you have the benefit of being able to expand further to cover more products and services in the future but will need to work harder to build the authority of your site.
4. Factor in Local Services
If your website focuses on a specific area or region, it can be worth using this as part of your naming strategy. If you only operate in one city, and there are no shorter alternatives, adding the city to your domain can add trust in anyone that searches your name on Google. This can also have an impact on the domain extension – if you seek visitors from around the world then ‘.com’ works best, with ‘.net’ in second place. Alternatively, if you only want traffic from a specific region, a country TLD will indicate this and also boost your search rankings in the country in question.
5. Stay Away from Numbers, Hyphens and Special Characters
Even if a number or hyphen makes perfect sense, most people are conditioned to spell out domain names. This can result in us running into the same kind of issues as in the first tip, where potential direct visitors get lost and give up. If you feel you may reach a point where you advertise the domain outside of online marketing, then you have to consider that any numbers in the name will need to be specified, and that never sounds overly professional.
6. Research Other Complementary Services You May Use
If you want your website to succeed, you’ll make use of other services. If your subject matter benefits from a social presence, it is worth considering a Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest board and everything else along those lines. In these cases, it is important to ascertain whether you can get accounts with a matching name – even slight discrepancies can lead to confusion.
7. Consider Other Domains for Brand Protection
Most users will default to ‘.com’ when they do not know the specific address of a website, and you are in a strong position if you manage to secure that extension. However, whether you own that one or any other, it is worth considering whether to register additional extensions. If your domain is specific to your industry, competitors may see an opportunity in the registration of similar names to scoop up some of your traffic that has taken a wrong turn.
8. Move Quickly
When you find the perfect domain, you have no ownership or control over it until you officially register it. While unlikely, there is no telling when one of the billions of other people around the world may have a similar idea to you and determine that the domain name you have your eye on may be the perfect fit for their needs. Registration is an instant process, so even if you might use a domain in the future, it is worth it to secure it as quickly as possible so as not to lose it.
9. Come Up with Alternatives
Your first idea will rarely be your best one. As you’ll have noticed, we promote speed and action among these tips, and it is generally a good decision to take action as soon as something catches your eye. At the same time, as you work on the design, content and optimisation, you may run into issues, and it is always better to do so early. Have a backup plan so that you can switch your focus quickly if the need arises.
10. Be Flexible
Above all else, you need to be willing to vary your strategy when you seek out a domain name. while perfect for some, you know right away that ‘dogs.com’ is unavailable. You may run into issues on other sites with unavailable usernames. Be ready to switch focus for the best results.