Just knowing how to select a good domain name can save you a lot of headaches later. Your domain name says a lot about your business or your brand and what you offer. It’s often part of the first impression of your business or online presence. It needs to be easy to remember and easy to type. With so many great domain names already taken, it can feel disheartening and overwhelming as you search to find the perfect one.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve experienced the exhaustive search of finding a domain name that says it all. I’ve gone through the process, not once, not twice, not even just four or five times. I own more domain names than I should. Let’s just say, it’s well within the double digits worth, for sure.
With that said, I put together a few pointers on how to select a good domain name that says exactly what you want it to say.
What’s in a Name?
Your domain name is unique. Whenever possible, your domain name should include your brand. What I mean by this is that it should be part of your business name and the brand you wish to establish for yourself.
Sometimes a domain name is as simple as the name of your company. More and more, people search for your brand when they want to find your website. Google also associates keywords with brands. So if you build a website that becomes an authority in a particular industry, your website will pop up in search results.
Domain names don’t have to just be a business name. Just make sure that whatever you choose still includes your brand.
Make it Memorable
Your domain name needs to be easy to remember. Catchy domain names will stick in a visitor’s mind longer. Make sure you use typical spelling, or if you don’t, make sure it’s part of your overall brand to be a little different.
Include Words that Say What You Do
What do you wish to be most noted for as a business?
Are you an informational site?
Do you sell a service or a product?
Is your website a hobby site?
Does your site target a particular geographic location or demographic?
All of these things can be used to create a domain. Examples might include:
What Domain Name Extension Should You Choose?
Today, there are a plethora of domain name extensions. Some are much cheaper than others but don’t let that weigh too heavily on your decision.
The best domain name extension continues to be .com. Whenever possible, always go for the .com. It is still the “default” domain extension when someone is trying to remember a domain name and just “takes a guess.” At the time of writing this, the next most popular US domain extensions are .net, .org and .info.
Some domains like .biz and .us are often considered spam by consumers. So while selecting one of those extensions may not directly impact your SEO rankings, they could impact your overall impression with potential clients.
Whenever possible, go with a .com.
Protecting Your Brand
If other popular US domain extensions are available for your domain, you may want to consider buying those too to help protect your brand.
IMPORTANT: Always use a respected domain name Registrar (like Namecheap.com or GoDaddy.com) when doing your domain name searches. That way your searches are private. Believe it or not, there are bots and people out there that monitor regular search traffic and buy up domains that match search words.
It has become exceedingly more difficult to find domain names that aren’t already taken. While searching for that perfect name, it can seem as though “if you can think of it, someone else already has it.” But don’t get discouraged.
There are a couple of ways that you can search for variations on your domain name without having to come up with all of the variations on your own. Here are my two favorites:
- Use GoDaddy – Whenever you use GoDaddy to search for a domain name, it will offer suggestions for similar domain names. This can come in handy when you need some inspiration. You can also limit the results to only show .com domains so that you see even more domain name variations.
- Use a Word Scrambler – This option is actually kind of fun. Think of a couple of words that express your brand, and then plug them into a word scrambler to mash them up to make a new word. Word Unscrambler has a tool that can help you do this. It can actually be fun to play with 2 to 3 words and see what it comes up with.
What to Avoid in a Domain Name
Make sure you’re domain isn’t too long, have crazy spelling, or uses hyphens, special characters or numbers. Oh, and don’t use “Exact Match Domains” (EMDs). Let me explain.
Don’t Get Long-Winded
Domains should be kept to 15 characters or less. Granted, that’s not always possible especially when every other combination you try is taken. Even this website’s domain is 20 characters long. I took a gamble.
Keeping domains short helps keep them memorable and easy to type in. SEO is also easier with a shorter overall URL. It leaves more room for valuable information within the visible character area in the search results.
Don’t Make it Hard to Remember
Using unique spelling, hyphens, special characters and even numbers can make it difficult to remember and for users to type in.
For this website, I could have gotten OnlineSuccess4Less.com. But numbers make people think. They also don’t look as professional as simply spelling things out. Unique spellings or special characters can also be difficult for users to remember. If you’re going to have a unique spelling, it should be part of your brand. Example: KwikTrip.com. It’s a brand, not just a cute spelling in a domain name.
Hyphens cause similar issues. Visitors trying to find your website have to remember where to place the hyphens. Using hyphens doesn’t help your SEO and they add to the overall length of your domains. Just don’t bother.
Don’t Use Exact Match Domains
Exact Match Domains or EMDs are domains that contain your primary keyword or phrase. If you want to rank for “quality pet supplies”, an EMD for that would be qualitypetsupplies.com. You see where this is headed? Google doesn’t care. The technique is obsolete and to be honest, these type of domains are a bit limiting and certainly boring. Be more creative. Find something catchy and more memorable.
Back in the day an EMD used to be all you needed to rank for a particular keyword. Forget content, if you had the keyword in the domain name, you were considered “the ultimate authority” and you got a huge boost in SEO for that term. Today, EMD domains are obsolete and may actually hinder your SEO efforts. Google sees them, recognizes them, and then looks the other way.
A Quick Recap on How to Select a Good Domain Name
- keep it short (15 or fewer characters is best)
- don’t use hyphens, numbers, or special characters
- avoid exact match domains (EMD)
- get a .com domain whenever possible
- make it memorable
- include your brand in your domain name
- make it easy to spell
What do YOU think? Do you have anything you’d like to share on how to select a good domain name? Share your feedback in the comments section below!