Choosing your domain name is one of those tasks that, in theory, seems like a totally simple and easy thing to do (assuming, of course, you scale towards the less neurotic end of the psychological spectrum).
However, in practice, the truth of the matter is that the pressure to find the “perfect fit” for your particular business can practically make your head spin. As a result, we’ve created this article to provide you with a guideline on where to start.
So, if you’re looking for tips, strategies and things to avoid when it comes to choosing a killer domain name for your business, then you’re in luck – just check out these next few lines.
General Rules of Thumb for Selecting Domain Names
Choosing a domain name for your business really boils down to personal preference in the end. However, with that being said, the fundamental rule of thumb you want to go by when creating a domain name is to keep it short, simple and easy to remember.
The best domain names are catchy, concise and straightforward.
Don’t complicate things and potentially lose out on valuable traffic and potential sales by making your domain name so long or complicated that people have a hard time remembering it.
6 Things to avoid when choosing a domain name
Generally speaking, there are a few things to avoid when coming up with ideas for domain names. Remember, the best domain names are short, simple and easy to remember. Adding in any of the following simply just goes against this fundamental rule.
Avoid punctuation such as dashes, hyphens and underscores when creating your domain names. They simply just add an additional layer of complexity to things. Was it www.drape-depot.com? drape_depot.com? Forget it, I’ll just go on Amazon.
Unless you want to be on the phone all day explaining to confused potential customers how to get to your site, you may want to just avoid numbers altogether. No, five as in F-I-V-E. Yeah, the number. No, not the actual number, the spelled-out version. As in the word that rhymes with HIVE…
- Purposely misspelled words
Another good rule of thumb is to avoid intentionally misspelled words. You might not always be there to give potential clients a helping hand in finding your website. There’s nothing worse than meeting potential customer at your local Starbucks only to have them give up on searching for your website because it’s named something like killadezigns.com.
One reason homonyms should generally be avoided is because they’re confusing when heard. Did she say www.perfectpear.com or www.perfectpair.com? Or was it www.perfectpayor.com? Furthermore, if the homonym in question has multiple meanings, then you open yourself up to low-quality organic traffic from individuals who accidentally visit your website thinking it was about something completely different. If your domain name is bowbuy.com because you sell hair ribbons, your target demographic is mothers who love accessorizing their daughter’s outfits, not hunting enthusiasts looking for equipment.
- Embarrassing combinations
When combining words, be sure to check for accidental combinations that could potentially be embarrassing or worse – offensive. There was a notorious IT business called “IT Scrap” who made the mistake of choosing the domain name itscrap.com. Other hilariously embarrassing, PG-rated real-life domains:
www.childrenswewar.co.uk (Children’s Wear)
www.teacherstalking.com (Teachers Talking)
www.oldmanshaven.com (Old Man’s Haven)
www.mofo.com ( Morrison & Foerster, LLC)
www.choosespain.com (Choose Spain
www.ihavegas.com (IHA Vegas Holiday Rentals)
Don’t make the mistake of registering a domain name without giving it a once over to make sure it doesn’t contain any embarrassing (or offensive) word combinations.
- Getting hooked too soon.
Don’t get too comfy with a domain name before you’ve done your research. There’s nothing more frustrating than coming up with the absolute perfect idea only to find out at the end of the process that there’s an exact or similar domain name that has already been registered.
4 Common Strategies for Brainstorming Domain Names
Okay, so you’re aware of the general guidelines to follow when it comes to choosing the best domain name, but what about when it comes to the ideation phase? Well, there are five strategies that are commonly used by businesses for brainstorming domain names.
- Use your brand or business name.
Many individuals just decide to use their brand or business name as their domain names. Using your brand or business name comes off as more professional and can also project a larger presence than other options such as using personal names. This is particularly a great choice if your brand or business has already established a presence online or generated media attention of some sort.
The downside to this option is that it won’t help you in driving organic traffic to your page because the key component necessary for that is being able to optimize for keywords. Another downside is that if you freelance, you may find that many companies tend to specifically search for individual freelancers to contract with as opposed to branded companies. Freelancing is often a solution used to conserve capital and the general thought process of many businesses is that the individual freelancer will be the more cost-effective choice.
- Use your personal name.
Many entrepreneurs and small businesses choose to incorporate under their names. This is a particularly great option for those who are job hunting and looking to gain visibility in the freelancer market as it comes off as more professional than having no website at all.
However, there are also downsides to this option. If your name happens to be particularly unique or difficult to spell (i.e. Saoirse Koutsouftikis), then you’re setting yourself up for difficulties when it comes to a potential client’s ability to conveniently remember your domain name. Furthermore, depending on your industry, choosing to go by your personal name may communicate a smaller presence as opposed to opting for a brand or business name.
If you’re dead set on incorporating your personal name into your domain name, then sometimes it may be better to integrate it into something that sounds more established such as “The Stanislov Agency” as opposed to www.pietrestanislov.com
Consider optimizing for keywords.
Optimizing for keywords (i.e. www.content.com) is a great way to boost organic traffic, but it also has its downsides. For one, high-quality keywords that generate the most traffic are often extremely competitive and as a result, domains with certain ones can be insanely costly (as in up to the thousands).
It’s worth mentioning that localized keywords as well as industry keywords should be considered. Many times, businesses miss out on local organic traffic because they don’t take the opportunity to consider optimizing their domain names and websites for localize keywords. Make no mistake, there is a significant market here for you that is waiting to be tapped into assuming there aren’t any other local businesses that are far more established using this tactic in your niche.
For example, let’s say you’re interested in opening up a design shop under the domain name www.ladesigns.com, but there is already a design business currently registered as www.ladesign.com, or www.ladesigncompany.com.
Pump the breaks on that.
You’re going to be competing for the same exact clients and organic traffic in a comparatively smaller local market. If they’re already established, it’s going to be an uphill battle. Competition is already fierce enough – don’t make it extra hard on yourself.
The downside to optimizing for localized keywords is that many times, the truth of the matter is that these sites tend to put off a car salesman kind of vibe due to the fact that they sound so generic and sales-y. Unfortunately, many people have preconceived notions about sites such as these and often equate them with providing lower quality offerings.
Use new domain extensions
If you’ve ever done a quick search to check the availability of domain names, you’ve most likely noticed that the .com has turned into the holy grail of domain extensions. Not only are they less available, but they can often be much more costly than their counterparts.
Consider using newer domain extensions that can give you the ability to optimize with relevant keywords. Extensions such as .art, .it, .agency and .design can essentially help you knock out a keyword and also optimize for your brand, business or personal name all in one.
The downside to this is that many people just expect you to use a .com and equate anything else as potentially lower quality. Shy away from extensions such as .org if they don’t truly apply to your business. The .biz extension is another one that gets a lot of flack for coming off a bit lame, for lack of a better word.
There are so many factors to consider when it comes to choosing the perfect domain name for your business. Take your time and get it right. After all, the decision you make will have a direct impact on everything from your online presence to lead generation. Use this guide as a resource to help give you an effective strategy for making the best choice possible for your business.
What clever domain names have you thought up for your business? Do you find they’ve been effective in helping to drive traffic to your site? Let us know in the comments below!