Choosing the best domain name for your business is a critical but often challenging decision. Get it right and it can attract lots of visitors to your website and improve your online presence. However, before you make a final choice there are a number of things you need to consider and, in this post, we’ll look at what they are and explain why they are important.
1. Getting the basics right
Before coming up with ideas for a domain name, you first need to consider how visitors will use them. If someone is looking for your website, they’ll need to remember what it is called and then type it into the search bar. A good name, therefore, is one which is easy to remember and easy to spell. Keeping it short and simple and doing away with over quirky spellings make for a good starting point.
2. Keyword names versus brand names
There’s lots of debate about whether your domain name should contain keywords, e.g. cambridgecleaners.com or brand names, e.g. hargreaves.com. In reality, there is no right or wrong, however, the choice you make should decide upon the market you are in and the long-term goals of your business.
A brand name is unique and once your business is established can have a status that attracts customers because of your reputation. If you are in a market where brand is important, then that option might be best for you.
Keyword-based domains help people associate you with the products or services you sell and/or the location where your business operates. Cambridgecleaners.com would be helpful to anyone in Cambridge looking for a cleaner because the name says it all. A potential issue, however, is if your company diversifies or specialises in the future and the keywords in the domain name don’t accurately indicate what you do.
3. Finding your ideal domain name is already taken
This is a common problem and not simply because there are other organisations with the same name. Some companies register thousands of unused domain names just so they can sell them at a profit when someone else wants them.
If you find that the domain name is already taken, the first step is to visit the site and see if the website is live and being used. If it is and the site looks successful, there’s little chance of you being able to purchase it and you may need to seek an alternative domain name. If there is no live site, there is a much better chance that it can be purchased. You should check the Whois database to find out the site’s owner so you can make an offer. There are, however, no guarantees the owner will sell and they can charge what they like.
4. Finding your ideal domain name is being used on social media
While your ideal domain name might be free, it is also a good idea to see if someone else is using that name on social media. If you want to create a brand called GameU and register the GameU.com website thinking you’re good to go, it can be disconcerting to find out immediately afterwards that there’s a massively successful GameU YouTube channel with 10 million subscribers. Chances are, everyone who visits your website would be looking for the YouTuber, not for you. It’s the same with influencers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
5. Choosing the right domain extension
Domain names come in two parts, the part before the dot and the part that follows it. While the first part is important for your branding and for helping people find you, the second part plays a number of important roles and shouldn’t be overlooked.
The second part of the name is known as the Top Level Domain (TLD) and this is used to categorise your website so that users and search engines have a better understanding of what its purpose is. We all know, for example, that .gov is for government websites, .co.uk is for UK companies and .org for non-profit organisations.
Not so long ago, choosing the right TLD was a fairly simple affair as there were few to choose from. Today, however, there is a far greater number and more are being added all the time. The good news is that many of these are keyword-based and this means that there is less need to use keywords in the first part of the domain name. Some examples of new TLDs include .London, .restaurant and .finance.
One of the advantages of these new TDLs is that it gives people more chance to get the domain name they want. If hargreaves.com has been taken by a builder in Macclesfield, the chances are that hargreaves.london or hargreaves.cafe is still available.
6. Registering multiple extensions
It is common practice for companies to register multiple TDLs associated with their brand name in order to protect their reputation.
If you ran a successful eCommerce store called abcfashions.com and only registered that one domain, it wouldn’t take long for others to register an abcfashions.co.uk or abcfashions.co website and pretend to be your company. They may sell counterfeit versions of your products to unsuspecting customers or just plain steal from them. All of this can have a devastating effect on your reputation. This is why registering multiple TLDs became so common.
This may be something you want to consider. However, with so many TLDs available today it would cost you thousands of pounds a year to register them all. Instead, it might be worth registering the ones you think most useful. If you have a .co.uk TLD, for example, it might be wise to consider registering the .co, .com and the .uk versions at the same time.
As you can see, there are quite a few things you need to consider before choosing a domain name for your business. You need a memorable and easy to spell name, to consider the use of keywords or brand names, to check whether it is already registered or being used on social media, to pick the most appropriate TLD and to consider whether to register multiple TLDs. If you are looking for a domain name for your website, you can search for and register them on our Domain page.