When you set out to establish your business’s internet presence, creating a website is one of the first steps you’ll probably consider. Content will always be king, but for your website to deliver the results you’re looking for, people must be able to find it – and that means strong SEO practices, beginning with your domain name.
A domain name is more than an address. It’s the beginning of your online identity. It’s how people will find you and, if you’re lucky, one of the many things that will stick in their minds.
There’s no magic to choosing a domain name, but there is some science to it. Here’s a list of best practices to use when picking a domain name.
1. Make sure it fits your business
While “Curly Q’s” may be a catchy name on your signage, it doesn’t tell search engines or potential online clients anything about your business. A good domain name should give an indication of your business’ offering and needs to be descriptive and clarify what you do or provide.
2. Make it easy to understand and type
Using words with multiple spellings like ax and axe, barbecue and barbeque, or donut and doughnut will make it harder for potential customers to find you. Also, avoid using text talk like “u” in place of “you” or slang words. Simple is always best.
3. Keep it short
The longer your domain name is the more likely people are to make spelling or typing errors while trying to reach you. Keep it short and sweet to avoid frustrating users.
4. Use keywords in your address
Whenever possible, use your strongest keywords in your address. For example, if you’re a mechanic, try to work “auto repair” in the domain name. This will go a long way toward helping search engines understand what your site is about and improving your rankings.
Localise your address where possible. In the above example, if your shop is in York, try to include that in your name. Note that with this example, you may also need to work “UK” in somewhere to avoid confusion with York, SC.
6. Avoid numbers and hyphens
Numbers and hyphens can be confusing when people are trying to remember your web address. Make their lives easier and they’ll reward you. If you simply can’t avoid numbers and hyphens, register as many variations of your domain name as you can.
7. Make it catchy
This may sound like we’re backtracking on everything we’ve said so far, but it’s possible (not always easy, but possible) to do all the above and still have a domain name that will stick in people’s memories. Try your ideas out on family and friends to see what resonates with them.
8. Choose the right domain extension
As of 2017, there are 882 different domain extensions available. Find the one that best fits your purposes. You’ll want to keep in mind that a ‘.com’ is still the first thing that comes to mind for most Internet users, but with literally hundreds of millions of websites already out there, the name and extension you want may not be available.