Choosing a domain name for your business is not as simple as choosing your outfit for the day.
Your domain name defines your brand and online identity. It’s your audience’s access to your website — and it’s going to stick with them for a while. Make it count.
You may already have a domain name in mind, but don’t register it just yet. Here are 11 key factors to consider before choosing your business domain name.
One of the top secrets to a high-traffic website is a memorable domain name. So you’ll want to pick a catchy one.
Think of something that someone can easily pass along to others — whether by text or word of mouth. Research shows that word of mouth contributes to 20% to 50% of customers’ purchase decisions.
That said, make sure to choose a domain name that stands out. Let your creativity run loose!
But a word of caution: make sure no matter how memorable it is, your domain still ties well with your brand.
A good example is mywifequitherjob.com.
For one, it’s catchy enough to grab our attention. Also, it closely relates to the website’s mission — empowering people to build their own ecommerce businesses and give up their day jobs.
Put yourselves in your customers’ shoes. Would you type in a web address that’s five words long and full of numbers and hyphens?
Longer domain names tend to distract your audience. Plus, they’re hard to spell. You wouldn’t want potential customers misspelling your domain until they lose interest.
If you have a long brand name, try shortening it for your domain.
For instance, turning Mexican Mama’s Pizza and Tacos into a domain name would be a disaster. A shorter version, like mexicanmamas.com, will do the trick.
It’s easy to get lost trying to make your business domain as fun and catchy as possible.
But if you feel like you’re getting off-track, think of your brand identity.
Your brand identity keeps you grounded. It helps you think of a domain that actually reflects who you are.
Take Netflix, as an example. As soon as you hear the brand, you'd immediately associate it with online streaming of television shows and films. But aside from streaming, the company also revolutionised the way viewers enjoy their favourite series and movies by allowing them to binge-watch.
There’s now a lot of options for domain extensions aside from .com. So you’ve got a big decision to make.
Top-level domains (TLDs) — like .com, .net, and .org — are ideal for brands targeting a global audience.
But if you’re a startup looking to gain local traction, a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is the ideal choice. These domains represent your target country, which includes:
ccTLDs prompts search engines about where you're based and who your content targets. So if someone searches for “coffee shops in Australia” — or simply “coffee shops” — the top results are likely websites with a .au extension.
Locals also trust businesses that hit home. By using a ccTLD, you don’t just tell them you cater to them — you’re also embodying the values they believe in.
Hyphens are added friction when customers type in your domain on their browsers.
Not only that — it’s often used to work around a domain name that’s already taken. For example, a business may resort to kickin-car-parts.com if kickincarparts.com is already registered.
You don’t want people to bother with the hyphens, let alone regard your business as a copycat.
A domain name that’s similar to other companies can drive your audience to the wrong website.
Keywords are what people type on search engines. So including them in your business domain is good for SEO.
If you’re selling claw machines, go ahead with a domain like johnsclawmachines.com.
This way, people know what you’re selling right then and there. Plus, you’ boost your online presence through an SEO-friendly domain.
But before giving keywords a go, be careful not to pigeonhole your brand for the future.
For instance, John’s Claw Machines may want to transition into a larger amusement company in the future. By that time, johnsclawmachines.com may no longer represent the brand as a whole.
You’ve been brainstorming for days on end for the perfect domain name — only to find out it’s taken.
Avoid getting your hopes up for nothing. Check a domain’s availability immediately as soon as it’s at the top of your head.
Use online domain search tools like WhoIs to check if a particular domain name is already registered.
Before you go public with the name, it helps to test it with potential customers first. The goal is to test how receptive your target audience would be and if the name would generate a positive reaction. Assemble a focus group and test out the shortlist of potential names on them.
Even more established companies still grapple with their brand name. So if you find yourself unsure about the name you picked, there are plenty of other opportunities to change it even though your business is already up and running.
Accenture, for example, decided to change their name from Andersen Consulting when the name Andersen was tied to accounting scandals. Google was also previously called Backrub but switched to their current name simply because it sounded a lot like the mathematical term googol.
Be careful — some domain names are trademark-protected. This means that you’re not allowed to use them unless you want to get fined.
Before applying intellectual property rights, double-check the domain.
For businesses in or catering to Australia, search for your domain name idea using the IP Australia Trade Mark Search.
For New Zealand-focused businesses, check for existing trademarks in the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office website.
Your website will not reach as much online traction alone. You’ll also need a social media presence to boost visibility.
Now that you’ve got a catchy, short, and unique domain name in mind, do a quick search if it’s available on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, among others.
Tying in your business name to your domain and social handles maintains brand consistency. And a consistent brand makes you more recognisable in the online space.
Domain names sell out quickly. So if you’ve decided on the perfect domain name, register it as soon as possible.
You didn’t spend so much time working on your web address only for others to take it away.
Most domain names aren’t expensive. And they’re worth the price, considering you get to keep the most fitting domain name for your business.
Coming up with the right domain name may take time, or it may come in the next few minutes.
Use these tips to guide you into making a decision that works best for your brand. Now it’s time to get those creative juices flowing!
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