After dozens or even hundreds of hours of planning, it’s finally time to start your website. You have your ideas together, you’ve done your business plan, and now all that’s left is to pick your domain name. So, how do you do that?
The most common questions people have when beginning the domain name game are: “Is this really that important?” “How much thought should I actually put into my name?” “Does a domain name even matter that much?” The answers to those questions are: yes, a lot, and more than you know..
- First Impressions are Everything
Your domain name (aka your URL) is the first thing every visitor to your site will see, and it’s the name that they will remember your site by.. This means that the right domain name has the potential of making a significant and lasting good impression, but a bad name can turn people off to your site and will keep it from receiving the traffic that it deserves.
Your URL doesn’t necessarily have to match the exact search terms you are looking for, but it should include a keyword or two. You’ll want this keyword to be compact and near the beginning of your URL. For example, if “hiking in America” is your theme, then hiking and America are your keywords, so HikeUSA.com is better than funhikinginamerica.com.
- It’s Your Brand
Because your URL is your first impression, it is a great brand marketing opportunity. Ideally, your URL acts to increase brand recognition for your service. Make sure that you spend proper amounts of time and effort thinking about your domain name and its relation to your business. We’ll get into more details on how to do that in just a minute.
How to Choose the Perfect Domain Name: 5 Rules
- Make it memorable (and easy to type)
This may seem relatively obvious, but having a domain name that sticks in visitors’ heads and is easy to type is a surefire way to increase traffic to your site. There’s a reason that sites like Amazon, Facebook, and Pinterest are so memorable. Their names are all simple enough to type and unique enough to be memorable. You should also avoid using slang spellings of words (i.e., xpress instead of express); this makes it harder for customers to find your site.
Shakespeare once wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and in the case of your URL brevity is the soul of popularity. Not only does brevity help with the ease of typing and memorability, but research shows that the URLs of the most popular sites (determined by web traffic) are roughly twelve characters. There’s a good chance shorter URLs are taken, so a safe number range to aim for is 7-15. The other plus side to limiting yourself to fewer characters it forces you to keep your domain name simple, and thus more effective.
- Give it room to grow (think long-term)
Sure, right now your website may be focused on your local pie company, but there’s the chance it won’t always be local, so naming your site LosAngelesPiesAndNothingElse.com may not be your best option. Outside of breaking the two previous rules, this URL doesn’t give you any room for your business to grow. What if you expand outside of your city? What if you start baking things other than pies? This type of URL doesn’t give you room to grow, so make sure that when you are researching your domain that you are thinking about the long-term for your business.
- Don’t forget about Social Media
When you start narrowing in on possible domain names, make sure you check to see if the name is also available on social media sites. One of the best ways to build your brand is by establishing yourself across a variety of social media platforms. When you are doing this, having the same name across all platforms is a huge benefit. This consistency allows your customers to become familiar with your name. If they see the same name on Instagram as they do on your URL, the chances are good that they will remember you and visit more often. All you have to do to see if your name idea is available is search the name on your preferred social media sites and check. If nothing pops up, you’re in the clear.
[Side note: Also check to make sure that there are no trademarks on your name. You don’t want those legal issues. Trust me.]
- Use the right domain extension
Choosing the right extension for your site is almost as important as the name itself. While .com is the most popular extension, there are a whole host of other extensions from which to pick (101domain currently offers the largest selection). There are several-industry specific domain extension options such as .aero, .tech, and .ai. One benefit of using an extension other than .com is that, because .com is so much more popular than any others, a domain name that you want to use but is already spoken for with a .com extension might be available with another.
If you use these simple rules, you’ll be the proud owner of your own memorable domain which will serve you for years to come. The best thing you can do to ensure success in the domain name game is to take some time to research possible domain names and then make your choice based on the rules laid out here.
Your domain name is the first thing many of your customers will see, so making it high quality is worth the effort you put into it.