It sounds so simple: Just choose a name for your brand-new website. Shouldn’t be hard, right? Just go with “name of your business dot com” and you’re done.
But wait. You’ve finished building the site and are ready to register the domain name, but there is already a website with that domain name. Or maybe you just want to come up with something else, something unique and memorable that says more about your brand. Either way, you need a domain name, and suddenly what seemed like a simple task feels like the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make.
It’s easy to figure out how to make a website on your own with sites out there featuring easy-to-use templates to quickly get you up and running. Especially simple if you chose a provider that offers free domain name registration, which is now where your focus turns to. While you can update and redesign the site anytime you want, the domain name is often much more permanent.
To help you out, here are six best practices for choosing domain names that will take some of the guesswork out of finding the perfect name.
1. Consider Keywords
The name of your newly built website plays a role in your SEO, so consider including some keywords in your site name to help boost your page rank. For example, if your site is focused on entertaining, think about names that include your top keywords, like “party,” “events,” etc. To save time, use a site name generator to try different combinations and see what’s available. You’ll probably find that most of the suggestions won’t work, but there are usually at least a few reasonable options.
2. Keep It Simple
Think about some of the domain names that are most memorable to you. Chances are, sites like Zappos.com, eBay.com, and Amazon.com come to mind. What do they all have in common? They are short and memorable. Your domain name is going to become a part of your brand, and even if you have the greatest site in the world, if no one can remember the name of it, it’s not going to perform well — and it’s going to affect your search performance. Even more importantly, shorter site names are easier to type and spell, and they look better on all of your other marketing collateral, both on and offline.
3. Choose Dot Com Addresses
The web extension dot com has been around since the beginning of the internet, and despite the introduction of dozens of other extensions, it still remains the most popular. The majority of people are going to type in dot com, and if your site is actually a dot biz, dot co, or some other unexpected extension, you could lose traffic. The drawback of course is that because dot com has been around for o long, many of the short and memorable domain names have already been claimed. You might be able to get a similar name with a dot biz or dot net extension, but that leads to the next point to consider.
4. Choose an Original Name
So you find the perfect name — but the dot com version is taken. You discover, though, that you can get the dot net version that name. Or if you pluralize the spelling, or use an alternate spelling, you can get the dot com version. If you choose this route, you could be wading into some dangerous waters. For starters, remember that most people are going to type in dot com first, and when they do, they won’t land on your site. And if they don’t remember that your site is actually misspelled intentionally, you will lose traffic. You are better off selecting a different name that will actually be associated with your business.
Also, don’t forget to confirm that the name you have chosen isn’t protected by a copyright or trademark – or you could face some serious legal trouble.
5. Avoid Hyphens and Numbers
Finally, it’s best to avoid using hyphens or numbers in your domain name, as they can create confusion. Do I use a numeral or spell out the number? Where does the hyphen go? It’s usually easy to avoid hyphens, but if you must have a number in your site name, register both the numeral and spelled out versions so that you capture all of the traffic to your site.
Once you have found the perfect domain name, be sure to register all of the different versions (dot com, dot net, etc.) to ensure that other businesses don’t use your name. If your domain contains a commonly misspelled word, consider registering that version as well to avoid losing traffic. It may seem like a lot of trouble, but when you choose the perfect domain name, you’re giving your new website a greater shot at being successful.