The time you invest into choosing your domain name is crucial to the success of your online brand. Consider your domain name as your brand’s identity. This is the name by which your customers will associate you with for the long haul, so if you are going to make that commitment you better be prepared to think long and hard about it.
Though you should invest hours into what your brand is going to be known as on the internet, we’ve compiled 10 tips that will help you get there in the shortest way possible. Let’s get into it.
1. Choose a ‘Brandable’ Domain Name
Your domain name is the location of your brand. It is your slice of the internet and it should be considered prime Real Estate. So, the name should be one that fits and speaks to your brand. Put your thinking cap on to come up with something creative, clever and catchy.
This is the foundation on which you will build your brand so the name should adequately describe what your brand is. Avoid choosing a forgettable generic domain name and consider brandable domain names which are more unique, memorable and makes you stand out.
How do you make your domain name stand out from the competition and represent your brand?
- Be Creative: This is an obvious one but be creative by creating new words. You don’t have to stick to the conventions of the English language. Google, Yahoo and Bing all created their own words to represent their brand.
- Use a thesaurus: If you’re stumped or the creative juices aren’t flowing, you can break out and dust off that thesaurus to help you choose words that can fit your brand. Online thesaurus is easy to use. Just type in an adjective that is synonymous with your brand and then look at all the options you can use to help you create a brandable domain name. You can combine words and suffixes to help you make new words.
- Use a domain name generator: these can be great tools to help you when searching for something unique.
You can combine all three of these to help you choose a name that correctly identifies your brand and is the perfect identity for your business’ online presence.
Must have checklist for a ‘brandable’ Domain name:
- Make it Unique
- Easy to memorise
- Make it trustworthy
- Easy to pronounce
2. Keep it Simple and Concise
So, while we’ve discussed being creative and ensuring your domain name’s ‘brandability’ don’t get carried away here. You want to keep your domain name short, simple and predictable. ‘Less is more’ is key here. This ensures that your domain name is memorable. This has been researched by the online entrepreneur magazine Gaebler.com, they have found that the top 5 websites have approximately 6 characters in their domain name. Successful websites like Google and Yahoo can attest to this. The top 1 million domains in terms of web traffic and popularity show a direct correlation between the length of their domain name and their traffic.
[source image: Gaebler.com]
Less is Better
The less characters in your domain name the better. It is because as humans our attention spans are short and we need something that we can easily pronounce and remember. Based on the data above the rule of thumb is to keep our domain name between 6-15 characters maximum for optimum results.
You also want to avoid using hyphens, numbers and any other characters other than letters. Just use words. Be predictable while not being generic. If you choose words that are known but want to spell it a unique way that can be an issue for your users. For example, yourwebsite.com will always be typed in by users as yoursite.com so be sure to stick to predictable spelling if using real words.
3. Purchase the common misspellings of your Domain Name
Plan ahead. A good way to always stay ahead in your business is to consider consumer behaviour before it happens. Buy all the possible common misspellings of your domain name and have them redirect to your actual domain. This ensures that you don’t miss any potential customers and your brand has room to grow. Just focus on these most common misspellings and you should be covered.
4. Consider using Keywords for SEO
Use keywords that people would use when searching for products or the services you offer in your domain name. This is perfect for SEO and can keep your website visible when people get online and are looking for something your brand offers. It can definitely drive traffic to your website and help with your ranking success on search engines.
This can be a slippery slope though because using keywords in your domain name can leave you open to being generic and we’ve warned against doing that. So, with this you also have to be creative and think outside of the box when adding in a keyword in your domain name.
You can also use this opportunity to target your area if your business is specific to just your city. You can use the city name in the title along with a keyword. Though you want to remember the rule about keeping in at 15 characters or less.
5. Think Long Term
You want to think of this as a marriage you are entering in when you choose your domain name. This is for the long haul and will be with your brand forever. Plus, if you decide that you want to break up with your domain name it can cost you a lot in rebranding and hurt your dedicated customer base. A real headache that you can avoid if you make sure that a lot of thought goes into your choice.
So, in short, think long term. Be prepared to stick with this name forever. Make sure that you allow for expansion when picking your domain name. Don’t pin yourself to a niche associated domain that wouldn’t allow you to expand to offer more. Consider the big picture. Use an umbrella term that can encompass any future additions to your brand.
6. Check Availability and Trademarks
Before you can move forward with your newly made domain name you have to check if it is actually available. The easiest way to do this is to drop your domain name in the search engine of your choice and see if it comes up. After that, you also want to check all the Social Media platforms your wish to use your domain name on.
Legally you want to make sure you are protected too before purchasing your domain name. So check to see if your domain name has a registered trademark as well.
If your domain name isn’t available then go back to the drawing board.
Choose something completely new or similar if you wish and check the availability across platforms again. It is important that your domain name is the same across Social Media to ensure the strength and memorability of you brand. This builds and fosters familiarity and makes your brand easily accessible to your customers, fans and followers.
7. Choose the right TLD Extension
Always choose a .com as a rule of thumb. Why? Well .com is the most widely used and recognizable domain extension on the internet. No matter where you are in the world .com is trusted and gives a website a level of trust and legitimacy.
According to Registrar Stats, .com TLD Extensions are used 75% more than any other extension with .net in second and .org in third place. Of course, your choice of TLD Extension is completely up to you but our advice would be to choose a .com.
Though .com is the most recognizable, sometimes it may not be the best for your brand or website. For example, if your website or online community is based in Charity work or NGO then using a .org extension would be more suitable for that niche.
There are many successful websites that use other TLD Extensions.
Sometimes the extensions you choose can be based on your geographical location. If your business is based in the United Kingdom then using a .co.uk or .uk extension may be more beneficial to you, or .fr if in France etc. Doing this will help your customers see that your brand is within the country and make your business stand out in a legitimate way.
One tip we would definitely suggest is purchasing all versions of your domain TLD Extensions. Especially if your brand is intended to be worldwide. Purchase all the popular TLD Extensions like .net, .info, .biz and have them redirected to your .com or your sites preferred TLD Extension.
While this can be costly, it protects your domain name from being used by someone else with a different TLD Extension.
Other Tips for TLD Extensions:
- Experiment with specific TLD Extensions like .shop, .store, .design if you are in a specific niche and want the TLD extension to be as unique as your domain name. There are other viable TLD extensions that are becoming trendier like .app, .buzz, .online, .media and so much more.
- Be wary of people creating fake/imposter sites of yours
- People trying to scam you by selling the other TLD Extensions of your domain name back to you, you know the ones you didn’t bother to purchase.
- Missing genuine visitors, because the mixed up your TLD and couldn’t get to your site. Redirecting is important when purchases multiple TLD extensions!
8. Pick a trustworthy Domain Registrar
The Domain Registrar registers your domain name on your behalf, so that you can have full access to that domain name.
One of the most essential things to registering your domain name is to choose a reputable company to act on your behalf. This ensures that you do not run into any domain problems down the line that could potentially hurt your brand and business.
Do your research when it comes to domain registry. A lot of hosting sites offer domain packages as well. The key here is to go with a company that has a proven legacy of trust and excellence.
Tips for Domain Registry:
- Get the best value for your money. Although all Domain Registrars offer the same services, the pricing isn’t always created equal. Among the trustworthy sites, choose the one that best fits your budget and is giving you more bang for your buck.
- Set your domains to automatically renew. You can pay for your domain yearly, every 2 years, sometimes up to 10 years. Just make sure that whatever frequency of payment you choose, that it is set to automatically renew.
- Lock your domain so it can’t be stolen by anyone. Some domain registrars offer a feature in which they keep your domain in Registrar-lockstatus, which prevents unauthorized attempts at domain transfers. In this state, your registration information and DNS configuration cannot be changed until you unlock your domain name. Good news is this can be done in your registrar control panel. Be sure to keep your passwords encrypted as well.
- Always register your domain name yourself.
9. Check Domain Name History
This step is very important and is a bit different from just checking to see if your domain name was already taken. Even though you have a brand-new domain name you still want to run this check to see if there is any history on the internet. In some rare cases, the domain name you are trying to register may have been registered before but abandoned by the owner.
Here’s how to check a Domain’s History
There are a few ways in which you can do this. The easiest way is by using Wayback Machine. Wayback Machine is one of the first systems of its kind. It allows you to look back in time at how a website use to look in the past.
For our intents and purposes, Wayback Machine would allow you to see whether the domain you’re interested in has ever been used for anything significant and if so, was the history a good one.
Another platform you can use to check if your domain has a history is Who.is. This one is very useful for two specific features:
- First, it allows you to see the current domain info; like who the owner is, where the domain is or was registered and so on.
- Second, who.is gives you access to a ‘history report’. This History Report is extensive and includes all the information and sensitive history of a website. This is a paid service, but it is invaluable if you want a comprehensive report on a domain.
Go Forth and Get Your Domain Name!
You are now fully equipped to create a brand-worthy, unique and memorable domain name for your website.
1o. ACT FAST!
Domain names do not last long so act quick. Even if you think your domain name is super unique to your brand, it is possible someone could purchase it before you do. Be proactive and purchase your domain as soon as you have it.