One of the first and most important steps in launching a new website is getting a domain name for it. On the internet, your domain is the face and identity of your brand. Once you’ve chosen one, you will likely have to stick with it for good since it won’t be easy to change it later on. That’s why you should take your time to carefully study all aspects of your decision.
It is ultimately your job to find the perfect domain name for your upcoming website. Depending on what type of site you are looking to create, different factors can come into play and no one can really tell you which name is best for your site.
There are, however, several general guidelines and tips that should be heeded during the process of domain name brainstorming, and the following are seven of the most noteworthy ones.
1. Make it unique and brandable
Brandable domain names that look and sound unique are much more powerful and likely to become something big. Just look at the most popular tech companies out there; they all have unique brand names that are widely recognized.
Now, it’s not easy to get a domain like apple.com or amazon.com, but with a little effort, you can find many available two-word domains that are highly brandable. You don’t have to use dictionary words, so don’t be shy to unleash your creativity and make your own words!
2. The “.com” is still the king of TLDs
The top-level domain (TLD) is the domain’s extension that comes after the “dot”. Every internet user is familiar with the .com TLD, which is commonly considered the default domain extension. It was originally intended for commercial websites but it is freely used for any type of website.
Given its unmatched popularity and value, it makes sense that you try your best to go with a .com domain. If you’ve completely run out of options and can’t find a suitable name with the .com extension, you may want to explore other popular extensions, such as .net, .co, .io, .site, .store, and others.
3. Keep it as short as possible
Don’t give in to the temptation of stuffing your domain name with long keywords in hopes of making it look more relevant or SEO-friendly. Long, keyword-stuffed domains may have worked well during the early days of the web, but today they are less appealing and less valuable.
The notion that having certain keywords in your domain name helps it rank faster in search engines for those keywords is totally wrong. Yes, that used to be the case many years ago when search engine algorithms were much simpler than they are today, but it no longer carries a significant SEO value.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the majority of successful websites have a short domain name that is easy to type, remember and share. It may not be possible to find an available one-word name, but try not to go over two words.
4. Make it memorable
Shorter domains in general are more memorable, but length isn’t the only factor that determines how easily others can remember/forget the name. You should avoid using hyphens or numbers since these can cause confusion and make the name more challenging to remember. It should also be easy to spell and type with little effort.
5. Avoid trademarked terms
Violating the trademarks of other people or companies can have devastating consequences and you may end up losing money, your business and your domain. It is crucial that you do a trademark search for all domain names on your consideration list and rule out those that may violate others’ rights.
It’s also recommended to keep away from names that are already used by other websites or social media accounts even if they are not trademarked. You don’t want users to confuse your brand with someone else’s because the names are identical, which can lead to loss of traffic and revenue.
6. Plan ahead
You’ve probably heard the advice to pick a domain name that is relevant to the topic or niche you plan on using it for, and that is generally a good advice. However, if the name is too specific, it may make it harder to grow and expand in the future.
For example, let’s say you are thinking of starting a blog about poetry books. You may be inclined to choose a domain that has the word “poetry” in it, but in doing so, you’d be restricting your ability to cover other book genres in the future while still looking relevant. An article about science fiction books published on a website that is clearly dedicated to poetry books may look less relevant to potential visitors, resulting in lower click-through rate.
The same applies to a business site that decides to add other lines of products or services down the road. You should keep future growth and expansion possibilities in mind when choosing your site’s domain name.
7. Find a trustworthy registrar
Once you’ve made up your mind about the domain name, another search begins for a decent registrar to register it at. You should opt for a registrar that offers Whois privacy, reliable DNS services, quick customer support and reasonable prices.
If you are buying a domain from someone else, make sure to use a third-party escrow service that verifies the ownership of the domain and keeps your money safe until the transfer has been successfully completed.
Some people spend days and weeks searching for the right domain name for their new website, and for good reasons. You are more likely to regret a rushed choice, so look at it from different angles, remember the points we discussed above, and sleep on it.