8 Tips for Choosing a Domain Name

Sean Dilger
By Sean Dilger

Choosing a domain name is like choosing the name of your company — it takes time. You’re most likely going to have this name for the lifespan of your business.

Below we’ve compiled 8 helpful tips and guidelines for how to choose a domain name.

How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Business

1. Make it Brandable over Generic

What does brandable mean? In short, it means, makes it sound like a business. For example, let’s say you are fitness brand called Power Steps. If powersteps.com or anything similar isn’t available, don’t make the mistake of deviating drastically from your brand name and choosing something generic like letsgetfit.com. It sounds less like a business and more like a cliché mantra. Not to mention, generic domains get lost in the digital shuffle of overused keywords.

A better version would be something close to your actual brand name such as powerstepsfitness.com. It sounds like a business, it’s simple, and it describes what you do.

This can be tricky depending on the nature of your brand, but try to make it something that’s catchy and memorable. Choose something that you can imagine people sharing in conversation with their friends. A good way to start brainstorming unique names is by looking at other websites who have domains that are slightly different from their actual brand name. You’ll begin to see patterns and techniques that you may be able to apply to your business.

Related: Search Engine Starter Guide for Launching a New Website

2. Keep it Short

One of the main goals of building a brand is staying at the forefront of consumer minds, so you need a domain name that people can remember. There’s a little bit of psychological science to consider; short-term memory is finite, and numerous studies have shown that the longest sequence the average person can passively remember is 7. That’s why we use 7 digits phone numbers! The memory works a little bit differently when it comes to whole words, such as names, but the principle remains — keep it short. Between 6-14 characters and under 4 words is ideal. This also reduces the chances of a user misspelling or mistyping your domain.

3. Make it Easy to Type

This brings us to the next step – make it easy to type. Avoid using slang as it can lead to confusion. For example, do not use “u” instead of “you” or words that have many spellings like “cemetery” and “cemetary.” This can sometimes be a tough one to avoid, but if possible try not to have too many of the same letters appear consecutively. For Example, fitnesssports.com has a few too many ‘s’. People can easily make a mistake when typing or writing out this website name.

Note: Make it easy to say! Folks remember a name that rolls off the tongue rather than twisting it up.

4. Avoid Hyphens and Numbers

Avoid these little dashes “—” called hyphens, at all costs. For the most part, when people discuss websites in passing, they will omit the dash, and just say the words in the domain name. This is bad for word of mouth marketing, because customers may be landing on a different site.

Numbers pose a similar problem as well. When people hear a name with a number in it, they don’t know whether it’s spelled out or numerical. You can’t rely on people to clarify this every time they say your domain name. Chances are it’s going to get lost in translation.

5. Use Keywords Related to Your Offering

Try to use keywords. For example, if you work in marketing try using ‘marketing’ in the domain name. In other words, use the keywords people use when searching for your products or services.

The way you implement keywords into your domain can improve your SEO, but you need to understand how Google interprets keywords in 2018. Ultra-specific keywords used to be beneficial for rankings, but now it can have the opposite effect. For example, instead of choosing a domain name like BuyComfortableChairs.com, go with something broader, but still relevant, like Lounging.com. Google will be able to use the other information on your website in combination with your domain to categorize your business. The reason for this change is that too many spammy, low-quality websites were using ultra-specific keywords to bolster their rankings.

6. Use an Appropriate Domain Name Extension

Your domain name extension is those two or three letters at the end of your domain like .com or .net. Some of them have specific uses and indicate categories such .gov (government). Others can indicate the country that a website is based in such as .ca (Canada) or .de (Germany).

It goes without saying that .com is the most sought-after extension. Businesses who want to appear formidable in the marketplace will pay top dollar to claim a .com domain.

If the .com you had your heart set on is completely out of reach than worry not, because there’s still plenty of great options that still allow you to build a strong brand. Here is a list of common extensions and what they are usually used for.

.net – technical sites

.info – information based sites

.co – usually used to indicate a company or commerce site

.org – nonprofits, and charities

.me – personal websites, blogs, portfolios

.biz – e-commerce stores or commercial use

7. Conduct Research

Research the domain. Domain hosts such as Hostgator, Bluehost, and GoDaddy all offer helpful research tools to find out if a domain is taken or not. They also provide you with similar alternatives. Domains have different values, based on trends, specificity, and length. Keep this in mind when choosing your site. Or on the flip side, if you already own a domain, you can get it appraised quickly, sell it, and use the money to purchase a new domain.

8. Do Not Delay

Act fast. There are countless horror stories of people investing in a business, setting everything up and then when they go to choose their domain name, it’s taken.

Domain registering should be at the top of your list.

If you end up going with a website name that deviates from your original plan, it may end up changing certain aspects of your business. Therefore, it’s good to be aware of those changes sooner rather than later.

Related: How to Build a WordPress Website?

Wrapping Up

A lot of new businesses make the mistake of overlooking the importance choosing their domain name.  But understanding why and how to choose a good domain name is a crucial part of success in today’s market. You want your domain to be memorable, instill confidence, and be unique. You can accomplish this by keeping it short/simple, doing your research, choosing a suitable extension, using broad keywords and by staying on brand. One final note: be sure to renew your domain without any lapses in ownership. Contact us today to learn about our web design services.

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Sean Dilger is an SEO Project Manager at Power Digital with a passion for all things digital. He was born in Ireland and moved to San Diego in 2015. Sean has many years experience in the digital space and has worked in email marketing, PPC, social media and of course SEO. Sean graduated college in Ireland with a Master's Degree in Marketing and Management Strategy.