I talk with people regularly about blogging. And one of the most common questions I hear is “What domain name should I use for my business?”
There are two different approaches.
1. If you are a startup business, I would choose a domain name based on my business name. If a competitor already took my business name’s domain, I would choose a different name if at all possible.
2. If you are an existing business, I would choose a domain name as close to my business name as possible.
Sounds easy enough, right? Your domain name is the real estate of the Internet. Its what gives your business value in the online world. If its not findable, it won’t help you grow.
Establishing a domain name around your business name is only part of the equation. There are also 7 key characteristics that can help you choose the best domain name for your business.
1. Make it short
Good names are short and concise. Its not a coincidence that the most valuable domain names on the market today are three to five letters in length. And while there is no definite rule on length, just remember short is always better. If your name is ABC Plumbing and Heating Service Inc, instead of using every word in your domain, shorten it up to something like ABCPlumbing.com or ABCPlumbingAndHeating.com. Remember to think like your customers would, and match up the way you talk about your business to your customers. If you answer the phone “ABC Plumbing and Heating”, this is a great way to continue your brand with your domain.
2. It should be easy to remember
People remember top domain names because they are easy to remember: Amazon, eBay, Facebook – they all are easy concepts to remember and bring up when you’re searching online. Make sure your domain is a complete word and that it’s not too complex; NBCAWTA.com, for instance, may be symbolic for your company, but its difficult for your average prospect of customer to retain.
3. They are complete words and are easy to spell
There are hundreds of words in the English language that are difficult to spell (how about questionnaire, rhyme, or vacuum)? Sure, we all have spell check, but do we really use that when typing in a domain name? Not usually. You should also focus in on choosing words that don’t blend together with the same letter – Twelfth Hour for instance would become TwelfthHour.com, but it’s easy to leave off the double H in the middle for Twelfthour.com. Confusing right? When in doubt and if available, purchase both domains to be safe.
4. Always have the .com extension
Organizations or educational businesses often look at getting the .org or .edu. And while those can be valuable, remember that people automatically type .com and they won’t stop even if they know you have one of the other extensions. If at all possible, choose a domain in which you can invest in both of your choices (or all three) to avoid the confusion.
5. Make them descriptive
Many visitors will come to your site from a variety of sources. As a small business, you can be more findable if you add descriptive words to your domain to complement your business. As a plumber, your name might be ABC Service, but by adding the word plumbing into your domain, you give it a more descriptive tone that’s easier to remember by your customers.
6. Be careful with hyphens, numbers and other symbols
Any time you make your domain name more difficult by adding hyphens or symbols, you risk people having a harder time finding you. Numbers can be difficult because people aren’t sure what to type in – do you spell it out or use the number? The name Five-Design.com would always be typed out as FiveDesign.com, and could also be confused by 5Design.com as well.
7. Build a brand around it
Are these rules meant to be broken? Of course. You’ll always find examples that prove one of these tips wrong. But the key to choosing a domain name is to think about it and choose as carefully as you do your business name because it will be with your company for life. (Yes you can change it, but that’s as big of a pain as changing your business name.) Don’t choose it and use it in your marketing as an after thought; instead use it in a way that makes you stand out from your competition. If you are a tax accountant and do business as your personal name, choosing something memorable like TheTaxMan.com can give you a workable meme to include in your marketing materials. That alone will make you more memorable, and help you brand your business more effectively.