Before design and put a homepage online, the first step is to choose a domain name.
Most people make a non-thoughtful decision when they come to the choice of their domain name.
So that they might want to change it years later.
It’s important to think twice when you are choosing your domain name.
Because it can affect your visibility, ranking, and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
In this post, I will give you some tips you can apply to be able to choose your domain name more conscientiously.
What is a domain name?
First, what is a domain name?
To make it simple, it’s an address on the Internet.
This is what you are typing into your browser’s address bar when you want to access directly to a website.
Domain name: how to choose it?
Generally, people who are creating a website, want “the perfect domain name”.
But before deciding anything, here are 5 essential rules you might want to know before choosing your website’s name.
1. Define the strategy behind your domain name
What I mean with “strategy”, is you have to define if you want to get an “original brand name” or have an “optimized name” for SEO.
Original brand name
You might already have noticed that most of the known brand’s name have a kind of “unique name”.
For example Sony.com, Cocacola.com, Nike.com, Gucci.com, Ferrari.com
In the beginning, all those brand were unknown in our daily life.
To gain visibility, it took some years to build their image by invest in their product, in marketing, create content (articles, infographics, social network…) and finally be well referenced by search engines…
If you choose to opt for a unique name, seeking for original “brand name” for your domain would be the way to go.
But you have to keep in mind that you will have to work on your brand’s image to associate it to a concept or idea.
An original name can be an unknown word (ex: nike.com) but also the improbable combination of words (ex: facebook.com), a family name (ex: noelgallagher.com).
On the other hand, we have also optimized name that already includes some keywords and gives an idea of what the domain is about.
For example, the website encyclopedia.com and entrepreneur.com are respectively an online encyclopedia and a website about business.
Hotels.com a website for comparing hotels’ plan and prices.
As smartpassiveincome.com a personal blog about passive income.
In the past, those kinds of domains called “Exact Match Domain”, used to appear in the first results of search engines, because they have implemented directly some keywords inside them.
But nowadays, search engines like Google give less importance to this kind of technique and tend to correctly reference a website for his content.
Even if this technique is less efficient, it doesn’t mean that is obsolete.
Because a lot of people will still instinctively click on domain names that include the keywords they are looking for.
2. Choose a domain name easy to remember
The second rule is to choose a name easy to remember and to type.
For that, your domain name must contain at most only 2 or 3 words. Don’t choose a name like “the-blue-jeans-shop-by-mike.com”.
Choose wisely words, they must be simple and appeal to an average population. Don’t try to use difficult words like “circumlocution-writer.com”.
Avoid word who leads to misspelling like “dumbbell-workout.com” where the word dumbbell could be inconveniently typed “dumbell” instead.
Here some good example of domain names :
- veganrecipe.com: about vegan recipes
- buildahouse.com: about building a house
3. Don’t use special characters in your domain name
Don’t use special characters like oriental letters (ex: 東京.com), foreign accents (é, è, â, ô, î, û…), numbers (ex: myblog2000.com), or even hyphen (-) and underscore (_).
Some specialists are promoting the usage of the hyphen (ex: online-shop.com) but I can’t really agree with that idea.
Just put yourself in the shoes of your visitors!
Do you think they will especially remember to type the hyphen in their browser address bar?
The answer is probably not.
It’s even more obvious when you are using a smartphone, you generally have to switch the keyboard menu to be able to type a hyphen.
A lot of people will do the effort to switch and type it.
4. Domain’s extension to pick
An extension is what you will find at the end of your domain name (ex: .com).
Nowadays you have a lot of choice in extension names (ex: .rocks, .world, .blog…).
Unless you plan to localize your website by adding a geographic extension (ex: .co.uk, .fr, .paris, .tokyo), I recommend you to use only generic Top Level Domain (TLD) ones (.com, .net, .org, .info).
And more precisely, give a priority for the “.com” extension.
Again, think about your visitors, most of them are used to type “.com” in their address bar instead of new extensions.
5. Check if the domain name is available
You will probably notice by yourself when you will trying to buy a domain name. But sometimes it happens that the domain name you would like to get is already registered by another person.
Simply check that your domain name is not already taken with a domain name registrar service like Namecheap,
If the “.com” version of the domain name is already taken by another user, I recommend you to give up on it.
Unless you can afford to buy it…
For the anecdote, Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of facebook.com (originally known as thefacebook.com) bought respectively the domain name facebook.com for $200,000 and fb.com for $8.5 Million.
If you still want to choose the same domain name but with another extension (ex: .net), just know that it can be confusing for your new audience.
People are naturally used to type “.com” in their search engine.
You can guess that it could lead some of your traffic to the concurrent website.
Also to avoid legal issues, don’t choose well-known copyrighted and brand domain name (ex: Coca-Cola).
And last, verify that the domain name is not already used on any social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram…
That’s all for the 5 rules.
I hope they will help you to choose the perfect domain name for your new website or brand.
Anyway, take your time to brainstorm about your domain name it could be crucial for the future of your business.