Choosing A Domain Name For Your Website
A business should think carefully about both domain names and brand names; they sit hand in hand and will have a direct impact on the click through rate of your website. Ideally, they will be the same thing as when customers think of your website, they will think of it by business name. Your domain name will have an impact on how your brand is perceived by web users and search engines. Working with a completely new brand is advantageous in that both the domain and brand can be considered as a whole in the naming process. An existing brand can be more tricky as there will be less flexibility in the choice of a suitable domain name. The brand needs to appear to remain constant in order to retain loyal customers.
How Easily Information Is Processed
The more fluently an object is perceived, the more positive the response and association.
Make It Brandable Without Reliance On Keywords
An ideal domain will sound like a brand and not a generic business term. It should not use hyphens as they reduce the memorability of the domain and make it sound generic and unusual.
Until relatively recently, people used keywords in domain names to help increase SEO rankings. Domains that include keywords can be intuitive to the products and services offered by a business. Google is now biasing away from exact or partial match keywords in domains. A keyword mention can be used, but keyword rich domains will be penalised by search engines. Generic keyword strings should also be avoided as these are difficult to remember. Big brands do not tend to use keywords in their domains, think of Ebay (http://www.ebay.co.uk/) and Tesco (http://www.tesco.com/). These types of domains work well as they are unique to the brand and will not be easily confused with a competitor's business. They do have the advantage of being household names and are therefore instantly recognisable without the use of a keyword. Keywords can have a negative association for both users and search engines.
A domain name should be unique, memorable, avoid keywords and should stand out.
Keywords & Key Phrases: Words that are present in the text content of a website that describe the products and services of a business. They will have been identified as keywords to search engines. A web design business may use keywords such as "website" "developer" or "designer".
Exact Match Domain (EMD): A URL that is identical to a keyword or key phrase entered into a search engine. I could be searching for "design", the EMD would be www.design.com.
Partial Match Domain (EMD): A URL that includes some of the keywords or key phrase entered into a search engine. I could be searching for "design in Cheshire", the PMD would be www.design.com.
Make It Intuitive
Ask yourself if you could you look at the domain and guess what the business does, if you can that is good news. The connection should not be overly cryptic as you want it to be obvious to everybody. Something that has an association with the nature of your business but is not a keyword is perfect. This could be achieved by adding a suffix or a prefix. Words that are well known and easy to understand should be used. Perhaps there is a pun, or the name means something relevant in another language?
Make It Unique
Ask yourself if you think a judge would be able to confuse your domain with an existing trademark? If so you could find yourself in a costly legal battle for trademark infringement. Be sure to do your research to ensure your brand name is not being used by another company. If your desired domain is similar to that of another company you should research what presence that company has a whether they would be able to legitimately take your domain from you. A domain that is unique is the safest option legally speaking, it will also help your business to stand out.
Choose A Valuable Top Level Domain (TLD)
Top Level Domain (TLD): A TLD can provide information about a website such as the location, purpose or type of organisation. On this website (www.CodeMyPlanet.com) .com is the TLD. Here are some examples of TLDs and their purpose:
- .com → An open TLD for profiting business entities.
- .co.uk → An open TLD for UK based businesses.
- .net → An open TLD originally for domains pointing to a distributed network of computers.
- .org → An open TLD for for non-profit organisations.
- .gov → A limited TLD for government agencies.
- .edu → A limited TLD for educational institutes such as universities.
The most easily recognised and accessible TLD is .com. A .com domain should be the preferred choice for your business as people have a clear association with it. Being the most popular TLD, the domain name you really want is likely to be taken. If a suitable .com domain is unavailable another commonly recognised TLD should be used, .co.uk would be an appropriate choice for a business based in the UK. It is important to choose a TLD that is appropriate for your business. Currently, only people who are tech savvy will be aware of TLDs such as .design as they are relatively new and not yet widely used.
As discussed earlier, our internal processing fluency has more positive associations with things that are easy to remember. Therefore domain names should ideally:
- Make sense and sound appealing.
- Be Easy to pronounce. If it is not easy to say it is not memorable or brandable.
- Avoid slang, commonly misspelled words and words with multiple spelling.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens, they can be easily misunderstood and a simple mistake could send your lead to a competitors site.
- Be short. Short means easy to type, names under 10 letters are the easiest for people to remember.
- Long domains are often forgotten, misspelled or compressed so that the whole URL is not visible.
Optimise For Local Search
For a domain to be recognising within the local vicinity you could consider including local tags, a city or area that may show up in local search.
Protect Your Domain
You can protect and keep your domain unique by purchasing various domain extensions and misspelt versions of your domain. If you own variations of your domain, a customer is more likely to reach your site even if it has been misspelt. Extra domains can be used to redirect traffic to your preferred URL, you do not have to create multiple websites. This prevents competitors from buying them and potentially capitalising on your sales leads.