Choosing the right domain name can be a tricky business. Getting this wrong means potential customers may not even reach your site. However, by following a few guidelines, you will be much better placed to make the right choice.
Including keywords in your domain name can be an easy way of (virtually) getting customers through the door. However, a good keyword-based name related to your business is likely to be quite expensive. These domain names are also known as discoverable domain names, as they can be found simply by typing words related to your business into the address bar of your browser. This isn’t likely to be your best option if you are working in a well-established sector – as an extreme example, Insure.com sold for $17.5 million in 2009. However, if your business is in a new field, or you want a name related to a specific geographic area, this can be a good direction to go in.
The alternative approach is to come up with a new, unique word (or commonly a pun on an existing word, or combination of existing words) that will be associated with your business and only your business. This could be the name your business has already. Generally, the most popular websites go with this approach – Google and Yahoo to name just two. However, in order to get your name associated with what your business actually deals with, you will need to make sure your site has plenty of relevant content. This means when people search for a relevant keyword, your page ends up higher in the results.
There is a simple rule of thumb here – the shorter the domain name, the better. It’s best here to think of length in terms of words, rather than letters. Two words are almost always more memorable than three shorter words that add up to the same number of letters. If the domain name you want is not available, it’s best not to be tempted to buy an alternative with hyphens in. These are generally more trouble than they’re worth – people will often forget them, and so likely end up on a competitor’s website. Also, it makes saying the name of your website out loud quite unwieldy. In these cases, adding an extra word is certainly a better option.
Domain Extensions (TLDs)
If you can get your desired domain name as a.com, this is your best option. If considering an alternative, it’s perhaps first a good idea to see what kind of changes to your name you would need to get a.com domain – if they turn out to be minor enough to be acceptable, it is likely a good idea to change it, as.com domains are the default when most people are typing a domain name into their browser. However, .org can be a very good alternative if it is relevant to you – although this is more intended for non-commercial use. If your business is specific to a country that isn’t the USA, then you might well have more luck with country code domain extensions, such as.co.uk.