So, you have a business – or a business idea – and you need to start a website. At this stage, picking a domain name is probably one of the first things you’re going to think about.
But it isn’t easy picking your domain name – especially with so many common names already taken. In fact, statistics suggest that there were a mind-boggling 363.5 million domains registered across all top-level domains in the first quarter of 2021.
Although a challenge, finding the right domain adds credibility to your business, and cements your position amongst your competitors in the market. Get it right, and the website visitors will come pouring in. Get it wrong, and you may find very few of your potential customers actually make their way onto your site.
In this guide, we’ll take you through our 8 top tips for choosing a great domain for your site.
How to Choose a Domain Name: Checklist
When picking your website domain, your first option will be your own brand name. This is common practice for many businesses, especially big brands. Here are a few common examples that you’ll already be aware of:
Amazon = amazon.com
GAP = gap.com
McDonald’s = mcdonalds.com
Picking your brand name as your domain is all very well and good – apart from two clear limitations:
- Brand domains are often already taken or very expensive to buy.
- Brand domains don’t tell you anything about your company offering and don’t benefit your search engine rankings. This is something big brands won’t need to worry about as much as small and medium-size businesses – so it’s worth considering before you take the plunge.
Your website domain could have a big impact on your search engine rankings. This is why it can be worth considering including important keywords in your domain, which reflect your central offering or value proposition.
One example of this is the UK-based coffee company RAVE. The likelihood of them being able to secure an exact match domain was slim, so instead, they decided to opt for a domain that included both their brand name and their most important keyword (coffee). Hence, the domain name ravecoffee.co.uk was born. Not bad, huh?
Not only is this type of domain name great for SEO, but it also makes it super and quick and easy for anyone who comes across your website to identify what you do.
Some companies take this one step further and purchase a domain that explains exactly what they do, rather than one that involves their brand name at all. If we applied this to our RAVE example above, one of these domains may look something like ‘buygreatcoffee.co.uk’ or ‘coffeedelivered.co.uk’.
Which option you go for really depends on how much you value your brand, although, typically, we’d advise including your brand name wherever possible.
One crucial thing to remember when picking your brand name is ensuring that you keep it short and easy to remember. This means that customers will be able to find you quickly whenever they think of you, instead of having to spend hours trawling the internet to locate your business’s online presence.
For this reason, it’s also better not to use abbreviations or unusual spellings where possible. If a customer would typically spell a word differently to how you use it in your domain name, it’ll make it difficult for them to locate your site in conventional searches. The idea is to make your domain as memorable and easy to type as possible – so don’t try and be too fancy!
Another way to make your domain easier to locate and remember is to avoid using hyphens and numbers in it. This can be an issue if someone reads out your website, particularly because hyphens are often missed entirely, and numbers can confuse people as to whether they should type the digit (e.g. 4) or spell it out (e.g. four).
.com, .net, and .org are all common domain extensions.
It tends to be easy to pick the extension which offers you the best version of your domain. For example, if your brand name with the .com extension is taken, you can opt for the .net domain instead.
These domain name extensions tell those who visit the site something about it: such as the type of organisation you are, what you offer and your location. With that in mind, it’s worth taking the time to assess the options available to you, and choosing one that truly matches the needs of your business and users.
There are lots of site extensions available, which we’d recommend taking the time to browse, and settle on the one that works best for you.
We’ve already discussed why it’s so important to keep your domain short, but it’s also crucial that your domain is unique and distinguishable from others in the market. Choose a domain too close to competitors, and customers will likely get confused – choose one which is too abstract, and your customers will never remember it.
If your brand name isn’t distinguishable – or you can’t use it for your domain for some other reason – try something that makes it stand out, such as alliteration or onomatopoeia.
If you’re a local business looking to get discovered by customers nearby, you may decide to add a local element to your domain. For example, you can add the city you’re based in after your brand name, to quickly highlight to visitors who you serve. This can also help you boost your local SEO efforts and rankings.
So, this isn’t strictly a tip for creating a brand name, but more one for helping you ensure that you get your hands on the domain name you want.
A lot of time, effort and research is likely going to go into picking and finding your ideal domain. When you find something that’s suitable, you’ll want to secure it as soon as possible. As the price of domains are relatively low-cost, this can be worth doing – even, sometimes, if you aren’t 100% sure.
In this guide, we’ve given you some top tips to help you pick the very best domain name to suit your needs. By following this guidance, you’ll be able to find a domain which will resonate with your customers and is simple for them to remember, while also conveying some essence of your brand and its values.
Use this quick reference guide to make sure you’ve covered everything:
Choosing a Domain Name: Quick Reference
- Use your brand name
- Consider keywords
- Keep it short and memorable
- Avoid hyphens and numbers
- Pick a domain extension that works for you
- Make it unique
- Considered local keywords
- When you find one, secure it quickly
And, for more info about domain names, why not check out the range of related articles on our site?