It’s no secret that in today’s internet age, having a website is essential to keeping your business alive. However, where some businesses go wrong is in choosing a bad domain name. A good domain is critical for your business and isn’t something that you should just throw together. Your domain deserves careful planning, and you, as a business owner, will benefit greatly from making sure you get it right.
I can hear you saying, “wait, what does it matter? If my website is good and my product is high quality, then my domain shouldn’t matter that much, right?”
Well, not quite…
Your domain is a fundamental piece of your website. In fact, a poorly chosen domain name can ruin a business, while the right domain has the potential to make your business boom. So, it’s imperative that you dedicate a reasonable amount of time to making sure you get it right.
So why is this so important? I’m glad you asked.
- Your domain name is the first thing your audience sees —Think of your domain as a first impression. Take a moment to think about some of the websites you use regularly. Now, how are you identifying them? I’m going to go ahead and make an assumption: is it by their NAME? Your audience will be remembering your website by name as well.
- Your domain name affects SEO — SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a system that affects how easily your website shows up when someone searches for something related to your site. You don’t really need an EMD (exact match domain) anymore, but having a domain name with a good, appropriate keyword or two will help your site stand out from the competition and move up the ranks in searches.
- Your domain is your brand —For many companies, a domain name is literally the brand name and helps your audience build better brand recognition (think Amazon, eBay, Facebook, etc.). More on this in a bit.
There are plenty of other positives to having a good domain as well. Still, as you can see just from the examples this list, a domain is critical to the viability of your business online.
“Alright, you make a great point, but how do I find the right name?” You always ask such great questions. I was about to get to that.
How to Pick the Perfect Domain Name
1. .COM .COM .COM
Whenever you are looking for a domain, a “.com” extension is your best bet.
As you can see from this chart, the “.COM” domain extension is king by a mile. There are plenty of other domain name extensions. There’s the original .COM, .NET, and .ORG, but now there are plenty of new and more niche options like .YOGA or .TATTOO (take a look at 101domain’s list of domains – they offer more domains than any other registrar)s. Nevertheless, .COM is still the most popular option, and for good reason.
.COM is the most familiar and recognizable extension. Sure, it could be enticing to give your budding pizza parlor a .PIZZA extension or your free-range chicken spa a .FARM extension, but these extensions tend to be seen as untrustworthy or are easily forgotten. In fact, many users, especially those who aren’t as “technologically savvy,” will default to typing .COM at the end of every domain anyway, so .COM is typically going to be your best bet.
If your preferred .COM name is taken, you can try a .NET or a .ORG, but if all of those options are taken, you should probably consider a new domain name before a niche extension.
2. Keep it Short
There’s no way around it; shorter, unique names are just easier to remember.
As you can see here, names between 6-14 characters are absolutely the most popular, and for a good reason; they are memorable. Google.com is far easier to remember than axialcentrifugalradialindustrialmultivanefansventilatorsblowers.com (yes, that was a real website, and yes, they have since changed their name).
Chances are good that a lot of snappy, concise names were sold off a long time ago, but you have some other options if the name you want isn’t available. I’ll cover that in a minute; there’s just one other thing you need before we get there.
3. Make it Brandable
A brandable domain is unique and stands out. For example, a domain name like “carinsurance.com” is generic and unlikely to be remembered, but a name like “progressive.com” or “geico.com” stands out from the competition.
Can’t think of a name or word you want to use? Is the word you want already taken? No worries, you can always just make one up. Google did. Bing did. Geico used an acronym. The options are limitless, but regardless of what you choose, make it stand out.
No matter what you end up choosing, make sure that your domain is short, easy to remember, and brandable. Oh! And make sure it isn’t trademarked. You don’t want to deal with that hassle.
You can check trademarks through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO)
“But what if the name I want it taken?” Wow, it really is like you’re reading my mind.
What if the Domain Name You Want is Taken?
Like I mentioned earlier, there’s a very much non-zero chance that the name you want (even if you followed our guide) is taken. Most really short names are, but don’t worry. You have a few options.
1. Buy it
This is by far the easiest route for getting the name you want. However, it can be pretty pricey (we could be talking hundreds of thousands of dollars). That being said, it’s still worth looking into.
Many people think they have their perfect domain. They go to search it in their domain name registrar site, and alas, it’s taken. Then they give up and go back to the drawing board. If this is you, don’t give up so soon.
Search your domain name online and see what pops up. If your search returns a website and it’s up and running, then reach out to the site owner (try out a Whois search) and see if they’re willing to sell. If they are, great! If not, then you can go back to brainstorming.
There’s also a chance that when you search the name, this shows up:
If you see this, then it’s a good indication that the domain you want isn’t being used, and you’ll be able to buy it for a pretty good price.
If this doesn’t work, don’t worry.
2. Extend your domain
This is probably the easiest way to work around a taken domain name. All you have to do is add a minor word to the domain name, and you’ll be on your way.
There are plenty of options for additions to your domain. One of the most significant benefits of adding something to your domain is that you don’t have to brainstorm anything new. Plus, you can still use that beautiful brand name you came up with. Try adding a verb, a country, or a natural extension.
Verbs like “get” and “buy” are easy and popular for brands selling a specific product or line of products. For example, let’s say that the domain name you wanted was redlantern.com, but that was taken. No worries, just change that to “getredlantern.com” and you’re golden (or red, if you like).
Maybe your brand is specific to a location, and the domain you want isn’t available. Let’s say that the unavailable name is “bluehouses.com.” Try out “bluehousesUSA.com” instead. (You could also use other country abbreviations, states, and cities depending on your desired demographic).
One other option is simply extending your brand name to its natural next step. One real-world example of this is Tesla motors. Up until 2016, Tesla didn’t actually own tesla.com. It was already taken. Rather than bowing out and giving up, Tesla just extended their domain to teslamotor.com. This worked perfectly since “motor” was a natural addition to their brand. You can do something like this too.
If all else fails, you can always try abbreviations. If you’re not keen on abbreviations or even that option is taken, then, unfortunately, it may be time to restart your brainstorming sessions and find a new option. Look on the bright side though; if your branding was so popular that you can’t find even a single unused domain for it, then now you have the opportunity to come up with something even more unique and original!
Getting the right domain name is crucial to your brand’s viability online. It can make or break your business, so make sure you take the time to get it right.
.COM is still the way to go. Keep it short. Make it brandable. If you can’t get the name you want, there are a few options at your disposal.
If you really want to be sure you get your desired domain, don’t be afraid to throw around some extra cash. Try getting a trademark on your brand name. This is one of the surefire ways to stake your claim on a name, but it’s definitely going to cost you.
Regardless of how you get there, your domain is the gateway to success in your business, and it is absolutely worth the time and effort it takes to get it right.
- How to Make Money with Expired Domains
- Successful Brand Development: Branding Strategies for Your Small Business
- How to Set Up Your Website
- Thinking of Selling Your Website? How to Determine Your Website’s Value
- 10 Ways on How to Brand Your Website