Selecting the perfect domain name for your website is one of the first crucial decisions you will make as an online businessperson. Domain names, like our names, carry a lot of weight because they play a significant role in establishing identity. Think of a domain name as your online storefront. Getting it right can positively impact your brand’s credibility, visibility, and success. However, if you fall into some of the common pitfalls of domain name selection, you could find yourself fighting an uphill battle to get noticed.
Why Does a Good Domain Name Matter?
Good domain names serve multiple purposes, but none are arguably as important as brand recognition. Your domain name should reflect your business name, industry, or values, which helps potential customers understand what you offer and what to expect from your website. For example, you instantly know what you’ll get when you head to the Coca-Cola website; you know it will be the official website of the soft drinks company by the same name.
Similarly, the online sportsbook BetUS has a domain name that instantly makes you realize what industry it is part of, while a domain name like cheapofficefurniture dotcom likely has a website that does exactly what it says on the tin!
Understand that your domain name is often your potential customers’ first interaction with you. First impressions count, so using memorable and relevant domain names makes it easier for people to remember and revisit your website.
Lastly, your domain name influences your search engine ranking. Search engines consider your domain name during the ranking process, favoring keyword-rich names representing a website’s content and purpose. Every little helps when striving for visibility in the highly competitive online marketplace.
What Makes a Good Domain Name?
Try to keep your domain name short and simple. Long or complex domain names are more difficult to remember and prone to typing errors. Put yourself in a customer’s shoes, and ask yourself if it was easy to remember your domain name after only seeing it once and if it was simple to type into an internet browser.
Avoiding hyphens and numbers is advisable because they can create confusion and are often misunderstood when shared verbally. Imagine you bought the domain name vintage-c4ndy dotcom for your website selling sweets and candy from yesteryear. Try saying that aloud; you have to explain. Compare that domain to vintagecandy dotcom. Which of the two examples would you remember?
Choosing the right extension is also important when deciding on a domain name. “.com” is the most popular and widely accepted, but think about the countries you are operating in. “.co.uk” is for the United Kingdom, while “.fr” is for French websites. Other industry-specific extensions include “.tech,” “.store,” or “.digital.” Hundreds of such extensions exist. Consider buying a domain name with several popular extensions to prevent cybersquatting; you can always create redirects to redirect traffic to your primary extension.
Domain Names to Avoid
Stay well clear of any domain name that could infringe on trademarks. Some established businesses and companies are pretty relaxed regarding their names, but others will come down on you like a ton of bricks and threaten potentially costly legal action.
You might be OK to build a website called cheapusedteslas dotcom but then find yourself in hot water if you started mcdonaldsburgers dotcom. If you have even the slightest doubt in the back of your mind, find a different name.
Several famous lawsuits have happened between Apple Corps (a music label owned by The Beatles) and Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.). Apple Computer settled a 1978 lawsuit for $80,000 relating to logos and brand name. In 1991, the battle resumed, resulting in Apple Computer paying $26.5 million to Apple Corps! You have been warned.
We previously touched on avoiding domain names with hyphens and numbers. The avoidance of complex spelling or pronunciation follows along the same lines. Customers can struggle to recall and find your website if you opt for a complicated name, which is far from ideal.
It is vitally important not to use a domain name that already exists but is available with a different extension. For example, you find the seemingly perfect domain name, but someone has already taken the dotcom version. Do not, under any circumstances, buy any of the other extensions. People naturally enter dotcom when typing a website’s URL, so you’ll find many potential customers or readers head to the incorrect website.
Likewise, exercise caution when choosing a domain name the end user could misinterpret. Unintentional double entendres can give the wrong impression, get your relationship off to a rocky start, or stop a customer from doing business with you altogether.
The beauty of choosing a domain name for your website is you can choose whatever name you wish, so long as nobody else has bought it. However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should; not all domain names are created equal.
Your domain name is often the first interaction a potential customer will have with you or your business, and first impressions count for a lot. You want that person to remember your website’s address so they can return and let their friends, family, and colleagues know all about you. They cannot do this or will be hard-pressed to if your domain name contains hyphens, numbers, and the strange spelling of words.
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You should also steer clear of any available domain names similar to established brands and businesses. Trademark and copyright infringement is serious, usually resulting in a court forcing you to change your domain name or even handing down a substantial financial penalty.
Take your time when choosing your website’s domain name, use some of the hints and tips in this article, then take the plunge and secure your perfect online address.