10 Best Tips for Choosing a Domain Name[ Edited ]
August 2016 - last edited August 2016 by DalilahA
I have the dubious distinction of holding over 100 domain names. "Yikes, is it that many?" you ask. Yes it is. Domain names are important in business.
I'm not ashamed to admit I've made mistakes over nearly two decades of getting domain names. But I've learned and had a few successes along the way, too.
Here's what I have learned about domain names:
Make it Catchy
A great domain name is like a great business name: it makes marketing your business so much easier. A great domain name helps the public remember your business. That means you spend less time and money on keeping your business top of mind. If I had to do it all over again, I'd pick a catchier name for my business and my main domain name. Any good domain registrar (such as Google Domains) will have an autosuggest engine to spark your creativity.
Match Domain to Business Name
Just starting out and haven't chosen a name for your business yet? ALWAYS check to see if the matching domain is available first. I had to buy the matching domain for my trademarked name at auction years later, and paid 4 figures for it. It was all because it wasn't available originally. Don't do what I did! Pick a different business name if the matching domain is not available.
Don't Limit Yourself to One Domain Name
Domain names are a bit like potato chips. You can't eat just one. What do I mean by that? I don't mean you should collect domain names merely for the sake of having lots of them. I mean there's no reason to have just a single domain name. Many entrepreneurs and business owners I know who are serious about using the Web for marketing will have several domain names. You don't need to have 100+ like I do. But here's one example: consider domain names for special marketing and advertising campaigns. It makes your marketing easier to do and potentially more successful . Which is easier to use in an ad and for people to remember: MadeUpMarketingCampaign.com? Or a long URL based on your main domain such as Mybusinessdomainwebsite.com/marketing/specialcampaign/sig4872/campaign2016.com. See what I mean?
Dotcom is Good for Your Main Business Name's Domain
If your business is located in the United States, a dotcom domain is a great choice for your main business domain. The public often just defaults to using the .com extension when typing in a domain name in their browsers. I'm not saying dotcom is the only choice. I have seen successful businesses use extensions like .net, .co, .ly, .biz, etc. for their main domain. I'm merely saying it might be easier to market a domain based on what people in your country automatically consider the standard domain extension, and start there.
Remember DOTCom Is Not the Only Game in Town
You might want to go for other TLDs ( TLD refers to top level domains, i.e., whatever comes after the dot in the domain name). There are some great new extensions that reinforce the business you are in. Examples: .dental, .photography or .repair.
If Located in Countries Other Than the USA, Go for Your Country's Top Domain Extension
If you're located in Canada, for example, you may want to choose a .CA extension for your business. There are advantages for choosing your country's TLD. Customers in your country may automatically insert your country's TLD after your business domain, in their browsers.
Don't Forget Defensive Domains
Defensive domains are domain names based on extensions of your brand name. Example: if you have the dotcom domain name, you might defensively also get the .net, .org, .biz etc. extensions of your name. Get the most common extensions. I call them defensive because you protect your brand. I've had instances where plagiarists have copied one of my websites using a domain with a different extension - literally copying the entire website down to every single word, image and even our logo! And while there may be legal remedies, it's a lot of time and money to shut them down. By being defensive on at least the most common extensions, you minimize bad actors being able to ride on your brand's coattails. Besides, you may find uses for that .net address, such as using it for system-generated emails or an intranet.
Route Your Email Through Your Custom Domain
Now how silly is this: I saw someone had a custom domain name and even a beautiful website, but still used an AOL email address for business. Listen, one of the best uses of a custom domain is so that you have a branded email address. It makes your business look so much more credible in customers' eyes. Think about firstname.lastname@example.org. Instead of: myownbusinessnamesite@AOL.com. I realize it might take a small bit of time to set up your custom email, but it's not that hard. (See here for instructions about email for Google domains.)
Even if You Don't Have a Website, a Custom Domain is Important
I'm not in the camp that believes a business can get by without a website today. I think every committed business should have its own website. But - if you are a business that, say, uses just an Etsy page or a Facebook Page for business purposes, you should still get a custom domain name. Point that domain to your Etsy page, etc. It will be easier to use your own domain name on marketing materials, packing materials, and so on.
Remember the Spelling and Memorability!
My last tip is perhaps the most important. Try to keep your domain name fairly short, memorable -- and most of all, easy to spell. If you choose something with overly-cute plays on words or supposedly-clever spellings, and it leads people to type in the wrong address and end up who-knows-where, what good is that domain name? The more chances for someone to misremember or misspell your domain name, the less it helps your business.
Do you have any tips of your own for choosing domain names or crafting a domain name strategy for your business? Share them in the comments below.