Nowadays, if you don’t have a website, you’re losing out on a number of potential clients and customers who will never know that you exist. But to have a website, first, you've got to choose a domain name. (BTW, you can find some great website templates or WordPress themes on Envato Elements for building your website.)
A domain name allows visitors to find and access your site online. It’s a big part of your online identity, which is why it’s crucial to choose a great domain name to represent your business. A domain name can also help your website rank better in search engines if you use keywords properly.
In this post, we’ll talk about:
- what must be considered when choosing a domain name
- how to choose a domain name for your website
- tips on how to pick a domain name and protect it
We'll also briefly touch on domain name generators.
What Must Be Considered When Choosing a Domain Name
When it comes to choosing a URL name or a domain name for your website, there are a three factors you've got to consider:
1. Your Audience
Your audience should be top of mind when picking a domain name for your website. If you choose a good domain name, you’ll be able to continue building brand recognition with your existing audience and establish trust with new clients and customers. But if you choose the wrong name, the exact opposite can happen. You risk alienating existing customers and attracting the wrong type of clients in the future.
For example, if you’re targeting an older demographic, you should probably avoid using words and phrases that only a younger generation would be familiar with.
2. Your Location
Another point to consider is your location. If you’re doing business exclusively locally, consider if you want to use your location as a part of your domain name. You can also opt for using local domain extensions such as .us or .au or even .boston. This makes it easier for local customers to find your website. Another benefit of geographical extensions is that they're usually less competitive than the ever popular .com extension.
3. Existing Business or Brand Name
When it comes to big brands like Apple, Sony, or Target, it’s common for their domain name to be the same as their brand name. In an ideal situation, you’d want your business name and your URL to be the same so you can capitalize on brand recognition and make it easy for existing clients to find you online.
But in some cases, when it comes to small businesses, it’s not uncommon to find that your desired domain name has been taken, even though you’re trying to use your business name.
If that’s the case, then there are a few options to consider before you go about changing your business name:
- Add a word that describes your services or products like design, consulting, or spa.
- Consider using a geographical extension.
- If your business is incorporated, add a word like "company" or "inc" to the end of the name.
How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Website: 6 Must-Read Tips
Now that we’ve covered what you must consider before choosing a domain name, here are the most important tips for creating a domain name that'll help you pick a great domain name for your business website.
1. Aim for .com
The most popular extension for any domain is the .com. This is because the .com extension was one of the first extensions available, which is why most people nowadays almost always assume your domain name will end with .com. However, finding an available .com domain is getting harder every day. This means you might not be able to get your desired domain name with that extension.
If that’s the case, consider using an alternative such as a local top-level domain (TLD). This includes extensions such as .us, .ca .au, .de, and more. You’ll even find extensions for certain US cities such as .boston so if you’re targeting a local audience, using a geographical extension is a viable choice.
2. Keep It Short
Keep your domain name as short as possible as this makes it easier to remember and easier to pronounce. It also makes more of your website URL show up in SERPs and gives you better chances of using your domain name as social media handles.
3. Consider Buying Other Related TLDs
If your budget allows, consider buying related TLDs with your domain name. This prevents someone else from registering the same domain name, but with a different extension. It also protects your online reputation. More specifically, it'll prevent others from:
- creating an impostor website that tries to steal visitor information using the same domain name, but a different extension
- buying the domain name with different extension, only to try to sell it to you at a much higher price
You can use a 301-redirect to point those domain names to your main domain name either through your hosting company or the domain registrar itself.
4. Avoid Hyphens & Double Letters
Hyphens and double letters can make your domain name harder to remember, not to mention difficult to pronounce over the phone, in conversation, or in marketing videos. The same applies to numbers so they should be avoided as well unless they're a part of your brand name.
5. Make It Easy to Spell
This tip is directly related to the one above, but it also means you shouldn’t experiment with different or “trendy” spelling simply because it’s in or there’s no other way to get your domain name.
In most cases, this will lead to people mistyping your domain name and winding up on another site or not finding you at all. Bottom line, if you make your domain name hard to spell, chances are your visitors will end up frustrated and take their business elsewhere.
6. Research the Domain Name
Lastly, make sure to research the domain name you want to register. Make sure no one trademarked the name. As mentioned earlier, it’s also a good idea to check if the domain name can be used across social media platforms to maintain brand consistency.
Should You Use Keywords in Your Domain Name?
Back in the early days of the Internet, a common practice was to use your main keywords in your domain name. This helped many legitimate websites rank very high in the search engines. Domain names that used keywords were known as exact match domains and they looked like this:
However, that practice was also abused a lot. Some website owners would create dozens of websites using the same keywords to rank high so they can sell their products or sell affiliate products, but offered very little value to the visitors.
Before long, the search engine giant, Google decided to de-prioritize exact match domain names from the search engine results pages which effectively hurt the ranking of numerous websites.
As such, stuffing your domain name with keywords and using exact match domains is generally frowned upon according to the SEO experts at MOZ. Keyword stuffing can lead to your website being under more scrutiny to ensure it provides valuable and relevant content. A better practice for your domain name is to use broad keywords that are related to your business.
Consider Using Domain Name Generators
If you’re feeling stuck with your domain name, consider using domain name generators to help you come up with a unique domain name for your website.
1. How Domain Name Generators Work
Domain generators generate domain names based on the key terms you enter. Some generators require you to enter two to three keywords related to your business while others ask you to describe your business using two to three words.
2. Why Use a Domain Name Generator?
The main benefits of using domain name generators include:
- They can generate ideas you wouldn’t think of on your own.
- They can suggest alternative spelling for a domain name or a unique combination that makes a complete word when paired with an extension.
- Some domain name generators will also cross-reference domain names against popular social media sites.
- They make it easy to instantly register the desired domain name.
Top Three Domain Name Generators
Below, you’ll find the three best domain name generators to help you spark ideas for your domain name:
1. Name Mesh
The Name Mesh domain name generator is simple—it asks you to enter two to three keywords and it'll then list out all the results. The suggested domain names are organized into categories which include common names, short names, mix, fun, SEO, similar, and more. Name Mesh will give you a link to register your domain name, which takes you to GoDaddy and their $0.99 offer.
Panabee’s instructions for generating domain names are to enter two words to describe your business. It then checks for registered domains and suggests domain names based on your description. At the same time, it'll also check if suggested domain names are available on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. You can also use Panabee to search for an app name or a business name. Registering a domain name using Panabee’s link will allow you to register your domain with GoDaddy for $0.99.
Lastly, Nameboy is one of the oldest domain name generators on the market and instructs you to enter one or two keywords to generate ideas. You’ll then get a list of possible domain names and you can proceed with registration immediately. If you choose to register using their link, you’ll be taken to Bluehost where you’ll get a free domain if you sign up for their yearly hosting plan.
The domain generators listed above can help you find your perfect domain name, but remember the tips shared above to ensure your brand-new domain name follows the best practices.
How to Protect Your Domain Name
Once you’ve found your domain name, you need to protect it so it cannot be stolen. Domain theft happens more often than you think and it usually involves a hacker gaining access to your domain registration information by hacking your email address or your computer.
A few reasons for domain theft include hackers trying to “sell” the domain back to you at a much higher cost and trying to impersonate your brand online to steal your customer’s information. Here are four ways to make sure your domain name stays safe.
1. Turn on Registrar Lock
Some registrars like GoDaddy will automatically lock your domain to prevent it from being transferred to a different hosting or registrar company. This usually means that unless you unlock the domain, you'll always pay for domain renewal with the registrar you initially registered the domain with. It also means that if someone gains access to your registrar’s account, they cannot initiate unauthorized domain transfer attempts. They also can’t change the DNS configuration, which means they can’t point your domain name to their servers.
2. Use Domain ID Protection to Protect Your Privacy
Whenever you register a domain name, you need to provide your private information such as your name, email address, and physical address. This is required by the ICANN, the organization that regulates domain names. However, once you provide that information, anyone can look it up and see it when they perform a who.is search on your domain name.
Consider enabling Domain ID Protection at the time of your domain registration. This is usually a paid feature, but offered at a low cost of $1 or $2 per year and well-worth having. The domain ID protection will hide all of your private information and replace it with your registrar’s information.
3. Toggle on Automatic Renewal
Lastly, make sure to enable automatic renewal for your domain name. Doing so allows the registrar to charge your card automatically to keep your domain active. It means you don’t have to worry about the renewal date or accidentally forgetting to renew your domain, which then leads to your website going offline.
Make a Great First Impression Online With Your Domain Name
Along with picking a strong website template or professional WordPress theme, choosing a great domain name can make all the difference when it comes to the success of your business venture. With the tips above, you’ll be one step closer to choosing the perfect domain name for your website that'll help you maintain brand consistency while making it easy for your existing and new clients to find you online.