Just starting your website? You may have a few domain names in mind, or you may be wondering what a good domain name should be. You may even have thought of the perfect domain name, only to plug it into a search and find that someone else has already claimed it.
Choosing a good domain name can be a complicated process. Many business owners and freelancers want a “catchy” and memorable domain name, but what exactly defines those criteria?
If you are on the search for a new website domain, consider these few factors that can transform your domain from good to great.
Nobody wants to type a long domain character by character into their browser’s address bar. Neither do you want your website address to contribute to the character limit on your – or anyone’s – Tweets. It’s true that you could generate a short URL leading to your website where message length is a concern, but you lose the chance of directly advertizing your domain name and getting your name out there even if people do not end up visiting the link.
Long domains also increase the chances of typos and the risk of sending your clients to a non-existent address. Don’t make it a hassle for your potential clients to visit your website, when it’s much simpler to just shorten your domain name.
If your business has a long name, consider using abbreviations or acronyms. Try to avoid extending a domain name if the one you want is already taken – find another option where you can make it short and sweet.
The idea of a domain being memorable at first glance may be cliché. However, have you ever wanted to visit a website but realized you don’t remember its address? You could remember the name on its header, but typing that name and a “.com” didn’t get you to the website.
Wherever possible, your website domain should always be the same as its header. People don’t stare at their browser address bars, but they do remember the flashy logo or even just the name of your company. If you had a website domain like “myhomemaderecipes.com” but your website logo said “My Amazing Kitchen”, chances are people would remember the latter more and possibly erroneously key in your address as “myamazingkitchen.com”.
If you’re setting up a new company or organization, an easy way to make your web address memorable is to have it as your company name. You’ll be throwing your company name around quite a lot, so there’s no worry that people can’t remember it even if it is not the same as your website heading.
Your domain name isn’t just going to go on emails and business cards. You’re also potentially going to give presentations and advertise your domain verbally. Additionally, other people are going to articulate your domain name, so make sure it’s easily pronounceable – ideally by anyone as long as they have a basic grasp of the language your website is in.
If your company’s name is in a foreign language that your client base may be unfamiliar with, consider abbreviating your domain to perhaps just its initials, as this would make it easier for people to spell the name and visit the site.
This is an issue Flickr had when they first launched flickr.com. Flickr sounded like “flicker”, so when people said the name verbally, others usually entered the address wrongly as “flicker.com”. There wasn’t a website at that address – making the real Flickr lose traffic as people wondered why the domain they entered led to a dead link. Eventually, Flickr bought flicker.com and redirected it to their main website.
If you have a domain name in mind, say it out aloud and make sure the spelling isn’t uncommon enough that people would mistakenly spell it another way. If Flickr had started off as Flicker, they probably wouldn’t have had a problem.
Generally, be careful of using rarer spellings that can sound synonymous to more common spellings that people are used to. This should be considered more so if your desired domain name rhymes with or sounds similar to an existing company or organization. Some examples of uncommon spellings include omitting vowels such as Flickr did, using “y” instead of “i” (or vice versa if the word is normally spelled with a “y”), and inventing your own term out of common dictionary words.
If your company’s name is a play on words, one way you can get people to remember your unusual spelling is to emphasize why you created the play on words and how it links to what your company is doing. The better people remember what your company does, the better they can remember its name and web address.
Domains allow you to include numbers and dashes, but here’s why you should try to avoid using them if possible.
When a domain name is pronounced, non-alphabetical characters increase the ambiguity of the name. For example, including “3” in the domain results in people pronouncing it as “three”, which could cause confusion when someone hears the pronunciation and spells out the number instead.
The same goes for dashes, where some people tend to ignore dashes when reading a name aloud, while others pronounce it as “dash”.
This doesn’t mean that your domain name cannot absolutely have these characters – in some cases they do work, such as w3.com for example. However, if your domain can do without non-alphabetical characters, it’s probably safe to omit them.
These days, you may be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a domain extension, such as “.com”, “.net”, “.co”, “.biz” and more. Your domain extension may be influenced by your budget – certain top-level domains (TLDs) tend to be more expensive than others.
Many domain registrars offer more obscure domains such as “.xyz” at discounted prices for a limited time. However, it is worth noting that regular top-level domains tend to be indexed higher by search engines over, say, the exact same domain name with some other domain extension. Additionally, the average consumer is most used to “.com” names and if they can’t remember the exact extension of a web address, they would likely enter “.com” as the default option. So whether you’re considering using a classic TLD or a unique new domain extension, think about your client base and what they would be most comfortable with.
Although these are general guidelines, there are exceptions where domain names can still be great even if they don’t adhere to every point mentioned here. Don’t be afraid to try out your new domain! Many web hosting providers offer great deals and discounts for “.com” domains these days, and you can probably snag one for free with your regular paid hosting plan. Try putting it on business cards, telling others about it verbally, and placing it on your online profiles to see how it looks.
Brainstorm on some domain name ideas for your business (or if you don’t have a business, come up with a random one). What do you think makes a good domain name for that business and its target audience?
Dec 12, 2019