In today’s digital world your website is like a second storefront – or your only storefront if you don’t also have a bricks and mortar location – so designing your website and claiming your spot on the web is as important as creating a store or an office that is appealing to potential customers. Your domain name is an important piece of that puzzle, so here are some tips for choosing the right one.
Except in rare cases, your domain name should be your company name or some variation of it, so when you start brainstorming potential business names make sure you check to see if the associated domain name is available. If you can’t get a domain name that is the same or very close to your business name, you may want to consider choosing a different business name. While you’re at it, you should also check usernames on major social media properties like Facebook and Twitter. You don’t want to pick a company name and domain name just to find out that that identity is already taken on social media because this will complicate your branding greatly.
An exception to this rule is if you can buy a more generic but highly relevant domain name, like a dog breeder and trainer which may have any name – maybe John Smith’s specialty breeders and trainers who buys dogs.com. The domain doesn’t match the company name, but it makes a lot of sense with the business and will help generate traffic in its simplicity and relevance.
Along those same lines, you want your domain name to be simple, easy to understand and remember, and easy to spell. You need someone who hears about you to be able to remember the url and know how to spell it so that they are able to go visit your site later. If you choose a domain name that is too long, strange, has hyphens or other variants, or is difficult to spell you will forfeit traffic from people who simply can’t remember the domain when they go to try to find you online.
You also want to consider the extension or extensions you choose for your website. The extension is the piece of the url that comes after the period…i.e. .com, .net, .co, etc. Most people still automatically assume a .com extension so if they don’t have your url written down when they go back to their computers to search for you they’ll type your domain.com. Because of this, even if .com is a bit more expensive, it may be worth it to choose that extension. It can also be a good idea to buy up all of the extensions and simply redirect traffic from yourdomain.net or yourdomain.co back to yourdomain.com. That way you will avoid any confusion and make sure you catch all of the traffic that is looking for you.
If your business is built around you, it’s also a good idea to purchase the domain name for your name. In my case, that’s www.catecosta.com and that is my primary website.
Finally, make sure you don’t let your domain name expire! While most domain registry sites will alert you when your domain registration is about to expire, you should make sure you’re on top of it as well. If your registry service will let you use auto-renewal, that’s probably a good bet. You don’t want to choose the perfect domain name and build a successful site and following just to accidentally let that domain expire and be purchased by someone else.
Following these tips for choosing a domain name will help position you for success as you integrate your web presence into your overall branding and marketing strategy.