If you want to start a website, you need a domain name. Choosing a domain name is very important and you should think long and hard before you register one. This article will show you the best practices you should follow when choosing a domain name for your website.
Shorter domain names are in general better than longer domain names. They tend to be easier to type, they are more memorable and there is a smaller chance that people will mistype it. Losing traffic to typos is the last thing you want when starting a new website.
Gaebler.com analyzed the top 1,000,000 websites and discovered that the most popular websites have approximately 6 characters in their domain name and that the average is approximately 10 characters.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t register a domain name which has more than 10 characters, but it simply demonstrates that keeping you domain shorter is better than having a lengthy domain name which is hard to remember and type.
Your website name should be appealing to your visitors, preferably it should evoke some feeling or emotion. It doesn’t have to be associated with your business, but it should be easy to remember.
In general, I would not recommend any descriptive domain name as it is much more difficult to build a brand with a descriptive name. If you want to sell golf clubs on your website, it doesn’t mean that your domain should include these two words. If your domain name is descriptive and generic, it will hardly ever evoke any emotions. Also, a descriptive domain could limit you if you ever decide to offer more products or services in the future.
Don’t be afraid to try to come up with some unique and catchy domain names like popular “Mashable” or “Hootsuite”.
Lean Domain Search
If you want your domain name to be brandable, your visitors should not have any difficulties to pronounce it. Moreover, if your visitors can’t pronounce your domain name then they will also most likely misspell it. Be sure that your domain name can’t be spelled more than one way.
If you are not sure, ask your friends and family. They should be able to type your domain name in their browser without you helping them.
You should also try to avoid domain names with doubled letters. You don’t want to increase your chances of losing traffic to typos. For instance, a domain name like successstorm.com may sound like a great pick but it’s not, because you would certainly lose a lot of traffic to typos.
This rule goes along with the rules that your domain name should be brandable and easy to pronounce. You should make it easy for your visitors to find and remember your website and you will not achieve that if you include hyphens or numbers in your domain name.
Hyphens and numbers are also terrible for sharing your website. Imagine a situation in which someone wants to recommend your website to a friend but can’t remember where exactly the hyphen/number is placed in your domain name. Or even worse, he forgets that there even is any hyphen/number!
It may happen to you that you want to register a domain name but unfortunately, it is already taken. It may be tempting to register the same domain name with a hyphen but please think twice before doing that. Besides the above-mentioned problems, you will also send some traffic to your competitor as many of your visitors will forget about the hyphen.
Did you know that there are now more than 1,000 top-level domains (TLDs)? Over the past few years, TLDs like .net, and .org have gained popularity. However, it is still best practice to stick with the most often used .com. It is the easiest to remember and most accessible TLD.
If you want to target just one country, you should think about registering a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD). A ccTLD will rank higher in the local search results than generic domain extensions, so if you are thinking about targeting just France for instance, buying .fr is your best bet. However, if you have aspiration to grow your website and one day also target international regions, I would recommend registering .com.
When choosing a domain name, make sure that you don’t infringe on anyone else's trademark. The basic rule is that your domain name should not confuse your visitors.
For instance, a domain name like tripperadvisor.com would be easily confused with tripadvisor.com and infringe on TripAdvisor’s trademark.
Remember that trademarks do not need to be registered to gain protection (as long as they are distinctive). Whoever used the domain name first, owns the trademark. Before you register your domain name, perform a search to see if anyone has used your domain name (similar name) that could cause confusion.
Every brand should have at least some social media presence. Before you register your domain name, be sure to check the availability of social media usernames. Your branding should be consistent across all platforms. Inconsistency not only looks unprofessional, but it also makes it harder to find you.
You can quickly check the availability with free tools like Namecheckr.
Should your domain name include keywords?
The short answer is no. If you include keywords in your domain name, it will hardly ever be brandable. Imagine a domain like buybestsmarthphones.com. Is it brandable? Not really. Moreover, it looks spammy and it would be hard to remember.
Google was once giving a big ranking boost to exact match domains (EMDs) but that came to an end. So, if you register EMD, you don’t get direct benefit in ranking anymore.
Should you register a personal (myname.com) or a brand domain name?
If you want to build your website (business) based around you and your experience, then registering a personal domain is your best choice. With personal domains, it is easier to build trust an authority as your visitors associate all your content with your name. If your content is great, then you can build an authority quite fast.
Of course, you can also build a personal brand with a brand domain. It is easier with personal domains but that doesn’t mean that building a personal brand around brand domain is bad.
What you should consider is whether you want to sell your website one day or not. If your goal is to sell your website one day, then registering a personal domain name may not be the best idea as it will be much harder to sell it.
Even if you decide to go with a brand domain, I would still also register a personal domain. It has its benefits and you may need it later in the future.
Choosing the right domain name is very important and you should take time to consider it carefully. Play around with domain name generators, use all these tips and then choose a domain name you feel most comfortable with.