Last Updated on August 11, 2020 by David Bryan
How to Choose Your Website Domain Name
Choosing a website domain name is more important than just picking a name out of a hat. A unique address, it should reflect your brand, be easy to type out and be memorable…for the right reasons.
What is a Website Domain Name?
A website domain name is the unique address by which your website can be found on the internet. It refers to the structure of a URL (Unique Resource Locator) which indicates a page on the World Wide Web. A domain is formed of several elements, namely:
- A domain name extension. This can be a top-level domain (TLD) such as .org, .com, .uk or .net or may be preceded by a second-level domain such as .co
- A mid-level domain. This is an address of your own choosing which is often your company name or a term associated with your business. For example, bbc, wikipedia, imdb etc.
Together, along with other components such as the protocol (http:// or https://), the machine name (www) and subdomains, parameters and path, a whole chain is produced to indicate different pages, anchors and media which can be found on your website.
Why is Choosing a Website Domain Name Important?
There are two key elements to choosing a website domain name which are crucial if you want to maximise your SEO performance, enhance your online visibility and to garner trust from visitors to your site; the mid-level domain name itself plus your choice of domain name extension.
Domain Name Tips
As we’ve already said, the domain name you choose could be your company name or it could relate to a product or service that you provide. It may even be a witty play on words that relates to your industry. However you choose to register a website domain name, you should bear in mind the following advice:
- Keep it short and simple – The longer your domain name is the more likelihood here is that mistakes can be made whilst typing it.
- Make it catchy – if your domain is memorable and clever then the chances are that people will find it appealing and far easier to share.
- Avoid slang –Okay, so you may really want the domain name ‘expresstaxis’ to match your company name but find that it is already registered . It could be tempting to go for a play on this and purchase the domain ‘xpresstaxis’ instead. The danger of this is that your customers may not find you and, instead, hit the wrong site.
- Utilise keywords – try using a combination of words that reflect the services you are offering and matches those keywords that customers will search for your business using. For example, a gardening company might fare well with a domain called mowmylawn.com instead of their business name.
- Be local – Again, using targeting you can find a suitable domain for your business which is specific, but this time to your local area. If you only service boilers in the Berkshire area then what about a domain called berkshireboilers.com?
- Do your research – ideally, you should be looking for a domain name that is truly unique and not one that could be confused with another company’s; certainly not that of your competitors.
Your domain name is important to direct traffic but also says a lot about your business.
The Website Domain Name Extensions
The domain name extension refers to the far right hand element of any URL such as .net, .com and .uk etc.
When the World Wide Web first launched 30 years ago, there were only a handful of top-level domains available but over time there are now hundreds and included everything from .me to .info, .shop to .guru
The domain name extension is an important aspect of your domain to consider and should reflect your business. Commercial companies will commonly opt for .com where possible or (in this country) .co.uk. Non-profit organisations on the other hand tend to use .org whilst educational facilities use .edu
Other industry specific domain extensions include .io and .tech – used by a lot of IT and tech companies, .tv (online televisions shows, production companies and video-projects) and .property (estate agents and landlords). You can also pick up a domain extension for pretty much any industry including:
Have a look at other companies in your industry to see what is being commonly used and consider how the domain name extension is perceived by internet users.
The Importance of Research
Once you have chosen a domain name and checked that the extension you want is available, it is essential that you do your research to find out two important things:
- Can the domain be confused with another similar URL?
- Does the domain have a hidden history?
Unless you are intending purchasing all known derivatives of a mid-level domain then it is important that you check what other websites might be using a similar domain to the one you have chosen.
For instance, you may be quite taken with the idea of handymanlondon.services but if someone is already using handmanlondon.co.uk then there is a very real possibility your customers could confuse the two.
Secondly, purchasing a domain name doesn’t mean that it comes without a past of its own and it is worth doing a few simple checks before registering one.
Try a Google search and see what is being returned. You don’t want to hitch your fortunes to a domain which has a chequered history on Google!
Lastly, and before you hit that ‘Purchase Now’ button, take a few moments to look at your website domain name from all angles. There have been a lot of high-profile gaffes when it comes to domain name registrations that have become all too memorable for the wrong reasons.
An Italian battery company, Powergen, once had an unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) domain name powergenitalia.com. It is worth bearing in mind that domain names are all lowercase and do not have spaces so always check how the words run together. Remember the confusion in the U.S. when the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, died and the #nowthatcherisdead started trending on Twitter? Plenty of Cher fans were shocked by the news. Take a moment to look very carefully at your domain name as it could appear to others.
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