It is a sad fact that often when a business is first creating a website, little thought goes into creating the all-important domain name. This address will be as important to your business as your physical address and telephone numbers – it will appear on brochures, flyers, business cards, and online channels. It needs to be powerful enough to engage and excite and smart enough to attract the search engines and get you the Google rankings.
The domain name is going to be with you a long time after you have re-designed your home page for the twentieth time so how do you form the perfect domain name?
Long or short domain names?
A domain name can be up to 67 characters long. This does not sound a lot – especially if you have a long brand name or a hefty amount of products and services you want to highlight in there. But the bottom line is it needs to be memorable, easy to tap into a search bar, and simple so there are little chance of mistakes being made by the searcher. Hence, the shorter the name is, the more effective it is likely to be.
Beware though, in efforts to create a short name this often leads to truncation and so create an obscure mixture of letters. This is unlikely to be easy to remember and likely to encourage mistakes in spelling.
Hyphens in domain names
In fact it is when people are trying to truncate words that issues are formed. Many use hyphens but this can cause problems. It is very easy to forget hyphens in a name and if they are keywords the searcher could easily find themselves at your competitors site. Also if your domain name is passed on word of mouth hyphens are not recognised causing a further problem.
Use keywords in domains but be careful
There is a tendency to use keywords in domain names but be careful. Google is much stricter about how people use keywords on their site and this includes the domain name. If you are over-using a keyword in your text and it is also in your domain name Google is likely to smell a rat (sometimes unfairly!) and penalise your site. It is more beneficial to either use keywords which are generic to the whole site, or use words relating to your actual products and services. (i.e. booksandvideos.com).
Location, location, location
Searches on Google are often led by the location of the searcher so one keyword that is useful to have in your domain is the catchment area of your target market. So the example above would become booksandvideoskent.com.
Well, the fact is there is a multitude of Top Level Domains (TLD’s) to choose from now, some are specific to certain institutions (i.e. education: .edu; .ac) business (.com, .org and .net) quirky (.me; .co) and location(.au,.nl, .fr etc.). Stay away from quirky as they are unlikely to be memorable. If you are a local business it makes sense to shout about it by using a location TLD (i.e. .co.uk). If you are international .com or .org is better as a purely local TLD my give the impression you only cater for that country. The .com TLD is considered the more powerful as it again is more memorable and if people do not know your TLD they are more likely to put this in than .net or .org.
Using your brand name in your domain name
The key to success online is brand awareness and if your brand matches the online address (i.e. domain name) searches will automatically think of your name and location at the same time. For instance confused.com, webuyanycar.com and thousands of others have become household names and cut down the complexities of their target market finding them.
In the same way using your brand within your domain can be very powerful. If you are looking for a product it is likely you will have a few brands in mind when searching and will enter the brand into Google rather than the generic product term (i.e. car).
Join the queue…
The bad news is after deliberating long and hard over a name, you will probably not get exactly what you are looking for. With millions of people looking for domain names everyday it is unlikely you will get you first choice, so use the above tips to mix and match and as a bottom line to work from. You may have to think outside the box a bit. Don’t forget it is the face of your brand and it is going to be with you a long time so give it thought and don’t put up with second best…