8 Smart Tips For Choosing A Winning Domain Name
Consequently, there are a number of factors you should seriously consider when brainstorming domain name ideas. Below, we give you a quick rundown of 8 tips for selecting a great domain name. You’ll be able to nail one that’s smart and effective by sticking to these simple guidelines.
So, how do you do that? With simplicity, novelty, and memorability. Avoid inserting hyphens, numbers, or anything else that makes it sound unnatural and complicated. A great example is Pepsi.com. That domain name is leagues beyond inferior options like “Pepsi-cola.com” or “Pepsi-2-drink.com”.
This tip is closely related to our first bit of advice. Even though users aren’t likely to be saying your domain name out loud, pronounceability is still important. This is because of something called processing fluency: the ease with which our brains can process information. Names that don’t require a person to think too hard are usually the easiest to remember, and also more likely to inspire positive associations.
When people routinely misspell your domain name because it’s too hard to figure out, all of that potential traffic is lost. Most people will give up searching for your brand’s site quickly; they don’t have the time or desire to try multiple Google searches of possible spellings.
Shortness can help keep a domain name simple and memorable, but going too short can have the opposite effect. Compare “PastaScience.com” to “PastaSci.com”. Thanks to the abbreviation, the latter is harder to both pronounce and remember, despite it having fewer characters. The first version works fine.
In the pursuit of brevity, many consider using an acronym for their domain name. But that’s usually only wise if your brand or product is regularly referred to by the initials. For example, the World Wildlife Fund’s website can be found at WWF.org. That’s perfect for them, since their charity is widely known and referred to as simply “WWF”.
When it comes to extensions, being unique isn’t always better. While new extensions like “.me” or “.pro” may feel hip and eye-catching, “.com” is still the easiest to remember and most often used. In fact, ¾ of all websites use a “.com” extension.
If you can’t get the “.com”, go with other well-known extensions like “.co” or “.net” or “.org”. Then plan on acquiring the .com in the future. Of course, you’ll need to check who owns the .com first. If a big brand already owns your preferred .com, you won’t be able to afford to buy it from them down the road. Unless you make mega bucks.
But what about those country-specific extensions, such as “.nl” for the Netherlands, or “.de” for Germany? These are perfectly fine if you’re not planning to do business outside the country you select. For instance, the .ca extension is great for a Canadian company operating solely in Canada.
The ideal domain name is distinctive. It shouldn’t be easily confused with the name of another site or brand. After all, you don’t want any lawsuits on your hands. If your domain name infringes on a trademark, you could be sued and forced to give up the domain. Before you register your domain name, you can check to see if it violates any US trademarks here.
On a related note: if people can confuse your name with another brand, so can search engines. Picking a name that’s too similar to another business can lead to your name’s search engine results being littered with irrelevant links.
The ideal domain name should give users a good idea of what your business is all about. For instance, Rand Fishkin uses “PastaPerfected.com” as an example of an intuitive domain name for a site all about pasta. Right off the bat, a potential customer can make a good guess as to what they’ll find at that site (perfect pasta!). Your domain name should have the same effect.
Additionally, instant intuitiveness gives bonus points for memorability. When people can grasp your site’s concept just from the domain name, you can bet that it’s going to stick in their minds.
Google caught on to this spammy tactic, so an exact match keyword domain isn’t much of a ranking factor anymore. Besides, many users have developed the impression that such sites are spammy and low-quality. Which men’s athletic shoe domain do you think sounds more professional and trustworthy: SportsDirect.com, or BuyMensSportShoes.com?
Our advice: avoid using generic keywords and phrases exclusively. Not only are they hard to remember, but domain names based solely on generic keyword strings don’t carry the same SEO benefit they used to.
Tried all the tips above, but ended up with a domain name that’s unavailable? If you have your heart set on a domain name, you can append or modify it a little to make it unique for registration.
You can add a prefix or suffix, as was done in Rand’s examples of “ThePastaTerra.com” or “PastaTerraShop.com”. You also have a little wiggle room on tip #4: go ahead and use a different extension, so long as it doesn’t conflict with the other tips and works for your brand and audience. This might look something like “Terra.Pasta”.
Make it easy to type
You don’t want potential visitors lingering over details such as spelling before hitting your page. For that reason, look for a domain name that will easily roll off the tongue – and fingers. It’s best to avoid frequently misspelled words, or anything that requires a double take before pronouncing.
In case you’re planning on using your personal name as the domain, but your last name isn’t intuitive in its spelling, use a combination of your first and middle names instead. Alternatively, combine your first name with your specialty—such as “bakingwithsam.”
Another good practice is to choose a domain name that is predictable, meaning your audience won’t have to second guess how to write it properly. With this in mind, refrain from shorthand and spell out your words. For example, go for “you” instead of “u” and be wary of words that can be spelled numerous ways (is it “ok” or “okay?”).
Stay on brand
A great branding strategy is made up of many different elements that come together in telling one cohesive story. Make sure you align your domain name with the rest of your marketing efforts, such as your business website, social media handles and general tone and voice. Doing so will ensure that your online presence speaks the same language and gives off the right message cross-platform.
Your domain name can be either the same as your business name, a variation of it or your business name with an added keyword (as described below). If you’ve yet to name your business, spend some time thinking of a name that’s catchy and encapsulates the spirit of your brand. You can invent new words that have a nice ring to them (such as Wix and Google), look up meaningful terms in the dictionary or thesaurus, or elicit the help of a business name generator to get your ideas flowing.
Furthermore, regardless of how similar to your business or personal name you want your domain to be, you’ll need to make sure the end result is perceived as a brandable name. This will ensure that your online address is perceived as unique and is much easier to remember. For example, “bakingwithsam.com” makes a much stronger impression than “samteachesbaking.com,” in spite of following a very similar pattern and intent.