Choosing domain names should be a scientific process. A lot of brainstorming needs to happen prior to arriving at a domain name idea. There are plenty of reasons to purchase a domain. You could be starting a new brand or taking an existing brand online. Sometimes, you could be working with clients who are marking their presence online. Regardless, your domain is your brand.
Domains have a massive impact over the web. It affects your CTR, SEO, social media results, brandability, type-in traffic and offline advertising. It has a say in your brand as well as digital marketing. In addition, it is a long term commitment. A change in the domain name doesn’t often go well with followers. Like it or not, you will only be known by your domain name over the web.
Here we present ten top tips for choosing the perfect domain name:
Basic domain rules
1. Stick with .com
The Internet has been around for more than two decades. Should you really be biased towards ‘.com’ in 2019? For some of the legit reasons, you still got to. Indeed, people are aware of other TLDs these days. But, .com is the easily accessible domain outside the tech world. People are used to remembering any website with .com extension. Mostly, everyone finds more familiarity with .com, than any other domain extension. Even if you are opting for a niche focused TLD, it’s advisable to purchase its .com domain too.
2. Keep it short
Unless you absolutely can’t, try keeping it short. You don’t have to choose based on raw length. But, length matters cause of the memorability factor. People tend to remember short domains pretty well. Shorter domains are easier to say, type or share. It easily gets promoted on social media platforms. Moreover, it shows up fully in search results. Disclaimer: Do not abbreviate words to keep domain short. Something like golfersnetwork.com is always better than golfersnet.com.
3. Avoid hyphens/numbers
Make it the code or rule or even the law. Always avoid hyphens and numbers. Firstly, it’s hard to remember such domains. People tend to forget and omit the special characters. Secondly, it’s very hard to brand. People seldom see it as legit or authentic. Do you honestly believe YouTube would have been popular if it was actually You-Tube.com? When infected with a hyphen or number, your domain definitely lacks a punch. Stick to the alphabets!
Branding & Copyrights (Intermediate)
1. Brand over generic
You should make your domain brandable. It should sound like a brand when you say it. It should sound legit and authentic. At the least, it needs to sound neutral. By neutral, we do not mean generic. For instance, choosing a domain like onlinepianoclasses.com is a big no-no. It may work for an age-old domain. But, that’s definitely not something you can brand in 2019. You may sparsely use keywords in your domain name. But, you can never use generic keywords strings. They are not brandable and definitely not easy to remember.
2. Easily intuitive
Your domain should give out what your company does. It’s okay to get creative. But a bit of wordplay to make your domain interesting isn’t actually necessary. People shouldn’t have to visit your website to understand your wordplay. That might give a little gratification for those who visited your website. But the chances of anyone clicking into your link are slim. Instead of a domain like oceansfun.com, you can straightaway go for prawnfishing.com.
3. Copyright concerns
The Internet is a common place for copyright issues. Typically, a trademark owner sues a domain owner on grounds of copyright. He/she will allege the victim of creating brand confusion. A classic example would be the legal battle between Microsoft and MikeRoweSoft.com. Even if the domain owner is legitimately running a website, penalty risks are always there. It’s up to what the respective jurisdiction decides. Thus, never purchase a domain that sounds like or mocks a popular brand.
Search related domain name tips (Advanced)
1. Easy to type
In regards to domains, people are going to always type it in. You cannot afford to overlook the easy-to-type factor. Do not give them chances to spell it wrongly. Do not let that traffic go anywhere else. Avoid using ‘r’ for ‘or’. Value the common understanding of people. When you say ticket queue dot com, make sure it’s spelt as ticketqueue.com. Alternative but inaccurate spellings like TicketQ.com are recipe for disaster.
Easy to pronounce
Okay, we get it. People are going to type it in or click a link for the most part. Why does it matter that the domain should be pronounceable? It’s because people are skewed towards trusting a brand they can easily say and remember. When your domain is hard to pronounce, you are going to lose out on memorability. For instance, mischievoukittens.com vs. naughtykitens.com makes a world of difference. Additionally, you should make sure your demographic can pronounce that domain name.
3. Target your area
If you are a local business, target the area. There are a couple of geo-targeting techniques in domaining. Firstly, you can get a country based TLD. It helps if your business is limited to a state or country. Regardless, it helps narrow down on the location. Secondly, you should consider including your city or region in your domain name. An example would be Phoenixexterminators.com. It’s more memorable for the local customer.
4. Keyword Quotient
If you get a natural keyword match on your domain, just take it. It’s obviously going to bring some SEO value. However, stay away from keyword targeted domains. Search engines are increasing biasing away from such domains. It’s not the early 2000s anymore. You should stay away from a domain like mathtutoringonline.com. Keyword richness just doesn’t work every time. Using longtails for domain names is a proven blunder.
What to do when my preferred domain name is taken?
When your domain name isn’t available, it is okay to add something catchy to it. A prefix or suffix that fits well never hurts. You can also try getting the name in an alternate TLD extension. However, you need to be wary of the renewal costs. Feel free to get creative with your online brand. If you have a shop called ABC shoes, you can try something like BuyABCshoes.com.
Another point to remember is keyword density in the domain name. A keyword density of 100%, especially when it’s a long tail is disastrous. Not more 30-60% of your domain name can contain keyword/s.
Consider all of these tips as guidelines. You can occasionally ignore a couple of it. Act by what you think works in 2019. Pros apply some of the risky domain hacks. Nonetheless, you need to account for the risks that come with it.