A domain name is one of the most important elements of a website. It gives users a first impression that can either keep them coming back or make your site forgettable. It can create interest or intrigue, or it can simply define what your brand is all about. It is, therefore, crucial that you choose a domain name that will not only work to define your site but to improve it as well.
Fortunately, picking the right domain name is not rocket science. In fact, the process can be broken down into a number of steps that will all but guarantee naming success.
We have compiled a list of ten different things to keep in mind when choosing a domain name.
1. Make it Brandable
Creating a new website is similar to creating a new business. When determining what name will best suit your site, it is important to understand that you are essentially creating a new brand.
For some users, the brand might be their own name or an existing business, but if you are creating a completely original site, there is a lot to consider when thinking about branding.
The first step is to brainstorm. Think about what you are setting out to accomplish on your site and work from there. Generate a list of words that are either related or interesting to you and come up with something that is original.
Think about some of your favorite brands. Does their name describe what they do? Google, for example, could have just as easily been named something more generic, but instead, the founders opted for something that was unknown, yet familiar to most people with their play on the word googol.
2. Keep it Short
Nobody wants to type out a long domain name every time they visit your site, and there is even research to suggest that shorter domains are correlated with popularity.
Alexa’s rankings of the top websites on the internet indicate that the top ten websites use domain names that are fewer than ten characters. The rest of the list strengthens this correlation, with brevity being a strong indicator of success.
Of course, this is not to say that short names will be popular or that long names will be unpopular. It is merely an example of following the best, and the best choose short names.
3. Make it Easy to Type
In the age of word processors and emojis, it seems like people are becoming worse and worse at spelling. When it comes to naming your website, therefore, it’s best to choose something that doesn’t have an ambiguous spelling.
Mistyped domain names can hurt your view potential and direct users to bad sites. Large companies are aware that this is a problem and often purchase URLs that are simply misspellings of their brand. Amazon.com, for example, also owns Amazonn.com, which redirects to their proper site.
Although you can’t really avoid people mistyping your domain name, you can prevent spelling confusion. Try asking people how they think your domain name is spelled. If they all get it right, you’re golden.
4. Ensure that it’s Easy to Say
When you have your own website, one of the primary ways people will hear about it is through word of mouth. Unfortunately, often times people are unaware of just how difficult it is to either say something or even comprehend it.
To start, you should probably avoid any of the words on this list. Once you rule those out, come up with names and try saying them aloud. You might feel silly doing so, but often we don’t realize how something can sound without hearing it first.
We also generally recommend that you avoid rhymes and words that are difficult to say in succession.
5. Avoid Numbers and Hyphens
Nothing ruins the flow of a typist worse than special characters. The same is true for a website domain.
A domain name can make use of letters, numbers, and dashes, but just because you can use these latter two characters, doesn’t mean you should. These symbols generally only serve as disruptors. Trust us, we know!
The theme park Six Flags owns both the SixFlags.com domain and 6Flags.com domain. Despite being seemingly easier to type out, most users access their website through the longer domain name.
6. Employ Keywords
Some consider the use of keywords in a domain name to be an old and outdated SEO trick, but there is still value in using keywords.
Some of the best websites use names that employ the keywords that they are trying to rank for. Sometimes it makes sense when your website serves a specific purpose and only that purpose.
Like everything else in life, however, you shouldn’t overdo it. Just as an article can be flagged for keyword stuffing, so too can a domain name. Try to use a single keyword and do so by placing it in the beginning of your URL.
You can find keywords and even get naming inspiration using the Google Adwords tool.
7. Choose Something You Can Grow With
As stated earlier, many of the biggest brands in the world have names that are unrelated to their focus. Think about the stuff you interact with every day and consider how little their names relate to their products.
Amazon.com started out as an online book store and later went on to become a reseller of products that run the gamut. They did not limit themselves early on by calling themselves Amazon Books, rather they selected a name with which they could grow, no matter how much they deviated from their original purpose.
You, too, should avoid boxing yourself in. If you choose a domain name that is too specific and you decide to repurpose your website you may be forced to eventually change it.
8. Make Sure it’s Available
You may come up with a great domain name only to find that someone came up with it before you and is currently using it. Before registering your domain, make sure to research the availability of your chosen name. You can do this easily using online tools, but there are other factors to consider.
Social media and online presence are essential pieces of a website. Sometimes a domain name might be available, but that same name is already being used by social media accounts. This can create confusion among your fans and cause them to inadvertently follow a different site.
Trademarks should also be considered as large corporations suing small-time website owners is certainly not unprecedented.
9. Use a Well-Known Extension
Most websites in the world use either the ‘.com’, ‘.net’ or ‘.org’ extension, but did you know that there are over 1000 other extensions available?
Domains like ‘.academy’, ‘.media’, and ‘.zone’ can be used as a website extension, but the problem is that so few use them. Because of rarity of these domains, they are mostly unfamiliar to the average user.
This can make recalling your website name difficult for your visitors. Worse yet, some people may doubt the credibility of a website that uses an unfamiliar extension.
That’s why you should stick to what people know, no matter how cool it might be to use a ‘.pizza’ extension.
10. Seek Ideas from Outsiders
When all else fails, outsource! Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of outside perspective to come up with a great name. You may find that when asking people about your own ideas they provide their own — even when you didn’t ask!
You can also have a machine do it for you. There are many online tools available in which you can input keywords which are analyzed and turned into domain names instantly. Even if you are unhappy with the results it produces, you may gain further inspiration from some of its ideas.
Your domain name is more important than you may have ever imagined, but there are some great ways to ensure success. We hope that some of these tips were useful to you and we look forward to hearing about some of your great domain names!