Most marketing and business professionals agree: your website is your most important marketing tool.
Choosing a domain name is one of the most consequential decisions you’ll make. Your website and its accompanying domain name (a.k.a. URL, web address) represent your brand, and you’ll be broadcasting it on pretty much everything moving forward: social media sites, business cards, posters, advertisements and your @email address, to name a few.
Here’s our top tier guide for selecting the perfect domain name and creating a lasting impression.
If you’ve already chosen a business name, you may think selecting a domain name is as simple as replicating your business name and adding a .com to the end.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, but these tips will guide you in your decision-making.
Much of your business will come from word of mouth, so you want something easy to remember and, ideally, unique.
With the proliferation of e-commerce sites and online entities, most of the common URLs have been claimed long ago. Now, intentional misspellings, combined words, verbs and unusual extensions have become the norm. Think Flickr, Bebo, Insightly, Lingua.ly, Shopify or GoDaddy.
If you’re lucky enough to find an available domain name that mirrors your intended business name, you’ve hit the jackpot. Your URL will not only help describe what you do without further need for explanation, but it can also help in search engine rankings and SEO.
For example, if you own a family construction lawn care business called McCall & Sons, consider a domain name such as www.McCallLawnCare.com.
Social media sites are another critical part of your brand and lead generation strategies. Customers are more likely to check out your Facebook page for happenings than they are your website. You want to make it easy for them to find you across platforms.
Whenever possible, get the same social handles as your domain name. @McCall is likely taken but you could check @McCallLawns or @McCallCare. If those are taken, you can get creative and still reflect your brand by adding a short prefix or suffice, such as the, now, today, app, or get.
The same holds true for your overall domain name.
Despite the availability of hundreds of top-level domain (TLD) name extensions (e.g., .edu, .buzz, .de, .info, .store, .blog), .com continues to be the gold standard.
When in doubt, most users start with a .com extension when they don’t know the ending of a domain name. The .com extension also has the most perceived credibility among users.
Once you’ve secured the .com domain, it’s a good idea to selectively purchase other fitting extensions, for example, .uk to identify your country location or .vet if you provide veterinary services.
You may also want to consider registering common misspellings of your domain to catch a few outliers (e.g., McallLawnCare.co, or McCalLawnCare.com).
When someone searches for a product or service on a search engine, like Google, Bing or Yahoo, they type in keywords or phrases. The engines search through millions of records to find websites that correspond with these terms. If you’re a furniture manufacturer, consider using that word in your domain name (e.g., www.WilliamsFurnitureStore.com).
There are those who would argue that a keyword-based URL doesn’t matter at all since there are so many factors that can affect your SEO performance. Changing search algorithms are also likely to impact SEO over time.
If you’ve tried the strategies above and are still coming up empty, get creative. Use an online thesaurus or other brainstorming tools to find new ways to convey your brand. Both Shopify and NameBoy have name generating tools available.
It’s common to go through dozens of iterations before settling on a final candidate.
After you’ve completed your brainstorming and discovered your ideal domain name is actually available, do further research. Search for similar domain names using different spellings, extensions or variations.
If you’re purchasing a domain from someone else, check its history. You can use the Wayback Machine to make sure you’re not buying a domain with a “questionable” past.
Ask friends or colleagues for feedback to make sure the URL makes sense and that you’ve haven’t overlooked something.
Finally, check to ensure you’re not infringing on someone else’s trademark.
Once you’ve done this due diligence, it’s time to register your domain names.
Don’t pick a domain that can be confused with existing sites (e.g., by adding an “s” or using a .net or .org when the .com is already in use by someone else)
Even though intentional misspellings can be okay, stay away from tricky or “cutesy” names that can be easily mistyped (e.g., EZDuzIT.com)
Avoid numbers, hyphens and underscores which are confusing to explain (e.g., do I spell the number six or type in a 6?)
Don’t make it too long. You’re not doing yourself any favours with a long URL such as “johnshomeconstructionofboise.com,” especially when you’ll also probably use it as your email extension (e.g., john@johnshomecontructi. you get the idea!)
There are many variables to consider, but in the end, your domain name should be unique, simple to memorize, and easy to pronounce or explain over the phone
Now that you’ve taken the time to find and register the perfect domain name, it’s a good idea to set your domain to auto-renew. You can also consider enabling domain ID protection to mask your contact information.
All of your hard work is pointless if you don’t have a reputable company to host and maintain your website. Whether you’re hosting a site for the first time or switching hosting providers, we’re here for you.
WBOC.com DelmarvaLife Media Kit eats + drinks Outdoors Delmarva WBOC Classifieds MD Digital Political Ad Disclosures