Any online entrepreneur who has been in the business for quite some time understands that the domain name of a website is a crucial element for branding, optimization and marketing. It is practically the name that the public will know a website by. Like a brand name or a company name, it has to be well-thought out and should represent as much of what the website is about as possible.
When it comes to choosing a domain name, there are standards that even the most successful domainers like Lawrence Ng follow. There’s no rule book to follow—although there are certainly articles, videos, and learning materials that people can use as reference in this matter—but the following are instinctive for anyone tasked with the job of composing a domain name.
A domain name should
be or at least contain the name of the business or company.
say something about what the website is about.
be easy to remember.
If the website will be an official page for a business or company, it is only logical to use the business or company name as the domain. This will make it easier to market the website and the business or company at the same time. Online branding will be easier as well.
Now, if it’s not going to be a business website, it helps if the domain tells people what the website is about. For example, an online seller for clothing and other merchandise may have the word “shop” in its domain. A book review site can have “book blog” or “reviews” in the domain. Seeing that general-keyword domains for most industries and niches are already taken, combining keywords with your brand name may be the closes thing you can get to a keyword domain.
A caveat: Using purely keywords or key phrases in the domain may backfire. For example, www.cellphoneaccessoriesforsale.com is not a very good domain name to use.
It is also important that a domain name be short and easy to remember so that returning visitors can type the domain address and go directly to your website. This prevents them from doing a search and possibly finding another website to get information from instead.
There are also several things you need to know about choosing or creating a domain name.
You have to have it registered with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN. You’ll need the services of a domain server so that your website can go live. Most of the time, domain servers like Go-Daddy, Name.com, Namecheap, Oversee.net and 1&1, offer ICANN registration as part of their services.
Speaking of domain service providers, look for a reputable company with a largely positive customer feedback. The quality of service doesn’t depend on the size of the company, of course, but the advantage is they usually offer plenty of perks for their clients. It isn’t uncommon for servers to add features in the webmaster’s dashboard, for example. In the event that the company should close, there is a lower risk that the customers will lose their domains. The cost is not really an issue because most companies charge more or less the same affordable amounts.
If the domain name you have in mind happens to be registered already, you may be able to buy it from the owner. You’re fortunate if the domain name is still parked and the owner happens to be a domainer who is seeking a buyer for the domain name. If, however, the website is already functional—maybe even money-generating—you’ll be hard-pressed to convince the current owner to sell it to you. If you do manage to do that, anticipate the possibility of paying a large sum for the domain.
Consider using an extension or top-level domain (TLD) that will best suit the purpose of your website. The TLD is the last two or three letters at the tail end of the domain address. If you plan to use it for commercial purposes, the most ideal TLD would be “.com.” If the website is for an educational institution, it should use “.edu” (In the United States, it is mandatory for all institutions of higher education to use this TLD for their official websites.). Websites for non-profits and organizations use the “.org” extension. If your target audience or market is exclusive to your country or continental region, you can opt to use the country code TLD or cc TLD where you belong (ex: .eu, .au, .ph, .ru, .za). Considering geo-targeted TLDs may also solve your problem if the domain name you want already has a .com version registered. It is possible for two domains to have the same second-level domain names as long as the top level domain names are different.
People are more protective of their intellectual rights now too, so it is important that you avoid committing copyright infringement. Before submitting your domain name for registration, or buying one from a domainer, run it by copyright.gov first to make sure you’re not using a name that’s already been copyrighted.
Here are more tips on what you should avoid or consider when composing a domain name:
Make your domain name appear and sound professional. That being said, avoid:
abbreviating words using text lingo (ex: www.face2face.com, www.w8ing4u.com)
using three or more words
The only exception to these rules is if they are included in the brand name or company name.
Make sure the domain doesn’t sound suggestive or have double entendres. It may diminish your professionalism in the eyes of customers, not to mention mislead the search engine bots.
Find a middle ground between not using a string of generic keywords, and finding a name that will best represent what the website is about. WebMD.com and PCWorld.com are two perfect examples of this.
Give ample time and thought into making or choosing your domain name as, once registered, this will be the name that you will advertise, market, and promote from then on.
Author bio: Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver company that provides SEO services to businesses across North America. If you would like to invite the author to write on your blog too please contact www.pitstopmedia.com