Coming up with a domain name is an important part of building a website. It is going to represent your business, your website and is a long-term investment worth taking the time to think about. I recommend choosing a domain that will rank for relevant searches in the search engines, a name that people will easily remember and recommend to others. To help you, I have come up with ten points to consider when choosing your domain name.
1. Come up with a List of Keywords
What is it you provide or sell?… Think about what people would Google when searching for your products or services. Make a list of keywords, again, thinking about the terms people would use to best describe your service. i.e. affordable website, search engine optimisation, web designer, domain host etc.
2. Search Popularity
Now that you have your list of keywords / phrases, do some research into their search popularity. Do they frequently get searched for? Using a free tool like ‘Google Keyword Tool‘ will give you a good idea of whether there is demand for your product or service.
3. Make it Intuitive
Will people instantly know what service or product you provide from your domain name? Make it clear what the customer can expect if they were to click through to your site.
4. Make it Unique
Don’t choose a domain name that is too similar to someone else’s. For example, I would not recommend using plurals, numbers or hyphenated versions of an already established name.
5. Keep it Short
Keep your domain to 2 or 3 words. This is especially important if you want to create yourself a memorable name and one that is easy for people to read and type. This is also better for when your domain appears in print on business cards, stationary etc.
6. Keep it Simple
Don’t come up with a domain that people can’t pronounce or spell, or even remember. Keep it easy to say, easy to spell and a name people will remember for when they recommend you to others.
7. Make sure you can get the .com
If your intention is to offer your products or services to an international market, go with the top level domain .com. However, if for some reason you choose to go with a different extension i.e. .org or .net, I recommend making sure you purchase the .com as well. This way you can 301 redirect the .com to .org or .net (or whatever extension you choose). After all, a lot of people still think of the .com before anything else.
An exception to this, is if you want to provide your service or product to a single country; in this instance, you may prefer to go with the country’s top level domain i.e. .co.uk (UK), .de (Germany) etc.
8. Think About Domain Name Variations
If your domain name has common misspellings or plural alternatives, it may be worth buying those domains as well. For example, if your domain contains the word ‘website’, as in our domain, it may also be worth getting the plural ‘websites’. This will prevent others from buying and setting up a similar named website. This may seem over-cautious, but just think about the potential traffic lost; visitors who may mistakenly visit the other site instead of yours.
9. Don’t Let it Expire.
May seem obvious, but just imagine if you missed the notification of your domain(s) expiring and find it has been taken by someone else. Protect your domain name by keeping your email address up-to-date with your domain provider so that you never miss a notification and I would strongly suggest setting your domain to auto-renew.
10. Don’t Use Trademarked Names
When creating a domain name, avoid using or adapting a well known brand into your name. Personally, I don’t feel this is best practice and it will save you any potential copyright infringement, trademark violations and potentially a lawsuit. The following Wikipedia entry illustrates this point effectively Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft.