It’s wrongly assumed by many that the first step to developing a website is the web design. However, choosing a domain name which helps in create a great logo, and in turn influences the design of the website design, but, how do you choose the best domain name for your website? What follows are a few tips (and tools) to help you choose the best domain name from the start.
A great domain name is an important part of the website design. A domain name is often the first clue a potential visitor (or customer) gets about the content of your website. When starting your web project, it can be hard to come up with catchy business name ideas with the best domain name for your business.
Clients ask many questions about how to choose a domain name, such as:
- Should I include hyphens or not?
- Should I use my business name or choose a domain using a catchy business related phrase?
- Can I have multiple domain names and how will it affect SEO?
- Should I include keywords in my domain name and how do I go about choosing one in the first place?
Therefore we have written this quick guide with some useful tips for choosing the best domain name for a website.
Simple things to remember when choosing the best domain name
When choosing a domain name for a website remember it will usually be the first thing people see (and remember), so you need to get it right!
Consider the following:
- Keep it short in length without losing branding and identity
- Include keywords / phrases related to business / industry / topic included
- Stick with .co.uk / .com for main domain – forward any others
- Remember that you can own multiple domain names, all of which can point to a single domain.
- Make it memorable and perhaps catchy
- Consider using hyphens – or not!
- Make it distinguishable from competitors – Not too similar to competitor domain names
- Consider alternative domain names that may not include the name of your company
- Make sure it’s easy to say, mispronunciation could affect word of mouth marketing
- Make it easy to spell, not too confusing or complicated
- Your domain name should reflect your product / service
- Don’t violate a trademark of another company, competitor or not
- Buy it quickly, before someone else does
Let’s consider some of these suggestions in a bit more detail…
Keep your domain name short
Choose a name that is not too long and is not too confusing, you don’t want visitors to have a hard time remembering it. The shorter your domain name, the easier it will be for people remember. If your site domain name is long and difficult to pronounce, people won’t remember it. Don’t try to be too clever, if a domain name is hard to spell or too complex it makes for typing errors. Shorter domain names fit better on business cards and marketing materials too.
Shortlist service, product or industry related keywords
Try using keywords that describe your business and the services. For example, www.CateringServices.co.uk or WeddingPlanner.co.uk maybe a better option if your company name does not describe your service. Include the keywords that people enter when searching for your products or services as it can improve rank on search engines and it also often communicates the service you are offering in the search engine lists. It’s always best to get your business name and perhaps consider forwarding that to a sensible URL which is not blatently spammy with keywords.
Choose your domain name extension(s) carefully
Extensions are the part at the end of Web addresses.
There are plenty of new domain name extensions to choose from today – from the original .com and .co.uk to niche extensions like .guru, .photography, and even .blog.
Domain extensions can have specific uses, here are some examples:
- .co.uk implies a “commercial uk company” and is the most widely used extension in the UK.
- .uk domain is simply a shorter and snappier version of .co.uk
- .com stands for “commercial,” and is the most widely used extension in the world. .com domains are registered in the USA and are therefore normally associated with US companies. However, similar to UK domains, there is no restriction on who or where the owner of the domain can be.
- .co : an abbreviation for company, commerce, and community
- .info : informational sites
- .net : technical, Internet infrastructure sites
- .org : non-commercial organizations and non-profits
- .biz : business or commercial use, like ecommerce sites
- .me : blogs, resumes or personal sites
It’s sensible to protect your brand and buy multiple domain names – purchasing various domain extensions, as well as misspelled versions of your domain name can prevent competitors from registering other versions, but always buy .co.uk and .com extensions first. Why? Because these are the 2 most WIDELY used domain extensions and the extensions internet users / your potential customers, are familiar with. Many users, especially those who aren’t as tech-savvy, will automatically type “.com” at the end of every domain without thinking about it. Buying these 2 extensions also protects your brand. You can always forward domains to your main domain.
Make your domain name memorable and perhaps catchy
A good domain name can make a positive and lasting impression. While protecting your brand is extremely important, you might chose more catchy domain name for marketing purposes.
Discoverable domain names often include real words and phrases. The trick to a discoverable name is find a phrase that other people would likely think of and type in a search engine. Unfortunately it’s hard to find one that hasn’t yet been registered, good ones usually have.
You can choose a catchy domain name, one which is easy for customers to remember and which describes your products and then forward it to your main domain. Remember that you won’t get keyword / phrase boost in this case but your customers might remember the domain more easily.
Choosing a domain name with hyphens (or not!)
There are pros and cons for using hyphens in a domain name.
- hyphens make it hard to communicate your domain name verbally, you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t even know what a hyphen is!
- hyphens can be a sign of spam domains which you do not want to be associated with.
- hyphenated domains are prone to typos
- if you choose a domain name with hyphens because the domain you want is already taken, then your users COULD end up at your competitor’s site if they forget to type in the hyphen.
However, there are some pros:
- hyphens help separate multiple words in a domain name, making it less likely that a person will accidentally misspell the name. Having words crunched together makes it hard on the eyes.
- hyphens might be your only option for protecting your brand
- it might be a shorter option than available alternatives
Research reasons for and against hyphens and make your decision wisely.
Make your domain name distinguishable from competitors
Avoid domains too similar to a competitor – If a competitor has already bought a domain name such as a .com but a .co.uk version is available it is tempting to buy it. However, your website could be confused with a popular site already owned by your competitor. A customer could easily type in .com and not .co.uk. Don’t choose a domain that is the plural, hyphenated or misspelled version of an already established domain of a direct competitor.
Consider and prepare some alternative domain name options
Your preferred domain name might not be available so just in case your first choice of domain name is already taken, consider all alternatives. Consider all the other suggestions in this post, keywords, locality, product, service, domain extension, etc. Make a list in order of preference. It’s best to choose a domain that protects your brand but you might also buy domains that are good for marketing and perhaps more memorable for your customer.
Choose a domain that is easy to spell and pronounce
Make your domain name easy to say, easy to spell and not too confusing or complicated to communicate.
Having an unusual and original domain name might make it memorable, however, novelty isn’t always a good thing. If you modify the spelling of a common word to get that .co.uk extension you might confuse your audience. Word-of-mouth advertising is powerful, but it only works when people can actually pronounce and communicate your domain.
Your domain name should reflect your service or product
When someone hears or sees your domain name for the first time, they should be able to instantly guess the type of content that might be found on your website.
Don't violate a trademark
Domain names can be registered as trade marks. They are subject to the same rules and standards as all other types of trade marks. If you are in doubt that you might be infringing a trademark then check before you buy. If you choose a domain name that conflicts with any one of the millions of commercial names that already exist, you risk losing it. If you’ve put money and sweat into marketing your website and then are forced to give the domain name up, your business is likely to suffer and it might be a fatal!
Buy your domain name quick and before your competitors
Once you’ve considered all the above tips for choosing the best domain name for your business, make sure you buy it quick and before your competitors!