8 Smart Tips for Choosing a Successful Domain Name

Sometimes selecting a domain name is merely checking to see if the name of your business is available to register. Simple as that. But there are many additional things to consider when registering a domain, the address for your online presence.

When you think in terms of click-through rates, referral links, marketability, offline advertising, social media results, domain names have an enormous impact all over the internet.

There's a startling number of places where your domain name affects your brand and online marketing, so give this some thought when making your selection.

Whether you're starting a new brand, a new company, or have an existing company that needs an online presence, you'll need a website. Here are 8 smart tips for choosing an ideal small business domain name.

Brand-ability

The ideal would be your company or brand name as a URL. It has to sound and look like a brand.

For example,  capecodwriterscenter.org is a site for Cape Cod writers. Pretty clear, right?

A financial services website has a domain that might be a little long, but there's no mistaking it: themontgomeryfinancialgroup.com

Here's another: capecodchefoncall.com
Again, it might be a little bit long, but it's also clear and memorable.

Think memorability, novelty, and simplicity.

Think about popular brands you see every day such as Godaddy.com or Nike.com.

Notice there are no hyphens or numbers to make either seem generic or confusing. Also note that the domain names aren't extended into lesser options like Godaddydomains.com or Nike-4-u.com. See the difference?

Easy to Pronounce

Why is being able to pronounce it important when people will mostly be typing it and not saying it? The brain likes easy.

"Processing fluency" is the ease with which information is processed. Domain names that require that we stop and think about them, that are difficult to spell or type out, are real traffic-stoppers -- and not in a good way.

Since most people lose patience when it takes a site more than three seconds to load, there's no way they will have the patience to figure out a confusing -- in any way -- domain name.

An example: ACE Appraisals of Cape Cod - their domain is acecapecod.com.

Short and Sweet

First, as best you can, make it easy to type!

Processing fluency, the idea from above about keeping information easy to process, means that the length is also important.

A domain name that's easy to say, type, spell, and share is the goal.

Balance in length is also important.

Many consider using acronyms. If your brand or business is commonly known using the acronym, then using it is okay. Otherwise, using an acronym for your domain name will cause confusion and hurt your results.

Yes, .com is Still the Best

Every domain is part of a "top level," like .org or .net or .edu. With so many TLD extension options, it's tempting to go after something new and hip like .me or .pro.

Roughly 3/4 of all websites use the .com extension, meaning .com is the easiest to remember.

If .com extension is not available for your domain name, you'll have to make a decision: should you change it, or go with a different extension, like .co, .tech, .design, or .biz?

Geographic specific extensions can also work if you're not planning to do business outside of a given country. If your company is in Australia and you'll only be doing business in that country, going with .au would also work for you.

Trademark Infringement & Domain Name Confusion

When considering a domain name, make sure it can't be confused with any other domains. Research this carefully.

Not only do you want to avoid confusion with other companies and products, you don't want to put yourself in a position where a company with a very similar name would consider legal action against you.

This "Domains Names and Trademark Law" article on FindLaw.com goes into more depth.

Consult an attorney or legal professional for any legitimate concerns just to play it safe.

Finding an Intuitive Domain

When anyone runs across your domain name and has a good idea of what your website is about, you've struck gold. From the name autotrader.com, example, you can easily guess that it's likely a website about trading-in a car or vehicle and you would be correct.

When someone can grasp your site’s concept with just the domain name alone, you also get bonus points for memorability.

Another example: imagine you are on vacation, in a beautiful little town way out near the tip of Cape Cod, and your car suddenly needs help. The domain wellfleetautorepair.com is a pretty intuitive choice!

Use Keywords

What you may have heard about using keywords in your domain name is true. Using such can be beneficial. Care should be taken, however, because using keywords incorrectly can hurt your brand.

If you can use a keyword in such a way that makes it intuitive, obvious what your site is about, go for it. But be careful, because using a keyword targeted or keyword rich domain name might not be such a good idea. Google and other search engine giants have flagged the tactic and it could hurt your search engine rankings. For example, BuyWomensCosmeticsOnline.com might be considered to be too keyword heavy; bettyscosmetics.com would be a safer choice.

Modify If You Have To

After considering the seven points we've already discussed, what happens if you find the perfect domain name but it's not available? You can append or modify the desired domain name slightly to make it unique enough to register.

Trying using a prefix or suffix to register the desired domain name. If, example, greensocks.com is not available, you could try thegreensocks.com or greensocksplace.com.

Also: plan ahead. Remember that it takes time to get found (especially if you have established competition). If your business is seasonal in any way, give yourself time to be found and make it as easy as possible for your audience to find you.

We hope that these 8 tips will help you find the perfect small business domain name for you. Since domain names have so much of an impact on the success of your online efforts, use great care in making your choice.

Where to Get a Domain?

There are many, many companies that are accredited and can provide domain names (they're called "Registrars").

Have a look at:

Be sure whoever you choose is accredited, and don't pay more than $12-$15/year.

Thought for the day

"Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one's voice."  Joseph B. Wirthlin

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