Picking the Right Domain Name

Written by Jeremy LaDuke

Picking the right domain name can be tough.

If you are a small to medium-sized business owner and you don’t have a website you are probably wondering where you should start. You may be in the same boat if your site was designed in the 90s and still has this on it:

This post is the first in a series of website stepping stones to help you know some of the most important things about web design, marketing, and understanding web terminology.

If websites, web design, ‘.coms’ and marketing are like foreign languages to you, there is no need to fear. There are lots of options to get a site up and running but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. No matter which option you choose for your web design needs there are some things that you have to do in any case. In this series I will walk you through some of the basics of getting your site setup.

STEP 1: Buy a domain name

A domain name is the ‘.com’ of your site. Picking the right domain name is extremely important from a marketing perspective. People should know your web address almost as well as they know the name of your company. It is the thing that people will use when they refer you, “You should really look into ‘so and so’ for that… check out there website, soandso.com”. You can have a great website, but if it is too cumbersome to type into the address bar of a browser or people can’t remember it then you are losing customers.

Here are some no-no’s when it comes to picking out a domain name:

Don’t settle for anything other than a .com (in most cases).

The internet has been around for a while and domain names are free game for anyone who can spare $10/year to purchase one. This means that most of the really really good domain names are gone. This may tempt you to go with another Top Level Domain (TLD) such as .net, .org, .tv, etc but nine times out of ten this is a bad idea. The reason is based on a cultural habit… people expect your domain to end with .com.

So if you say “visit our website, ‘thebestwidgetever.cc'” by the time that person gets to a computer chances are they have forgotten cc and they will use .com and unfortunately land on a competing widget seller’s site. If you are an actual organization or non-profit then you can get by with using a .org, but DON’T use .org if you are a straight-up business… it’s just awkward. joesplumbing.org sends the marketplace mixed signals. Are you a plumber or do you help train disenfranchised children to plumb?

Don’t go too long.

The longer the domain name the more chances the .com will be available. You may be tempted to use something like, “thebestwidgeteverinknoxville.com” but that is a rather long name for a person to remember from the time their friend tells them over lunch or they hear it on the radio till the time they get to a computer. And for those that try to type it in their phone while driving, the longer your domain name is the more chances they will have fat thumbs and press the wrong key and potentially wreck. So pick a short domain name… it’s safer.

In a similar vein, don’t sacrifice simplicity for description.

Some people luck out on the options for their domain name and they can get a short and brandable ‘.com’. Other people have to struggle to find a .com that ‘fits’ their business. Be patient, get ideas from others, and wait till you have a great, simple, brandable, domain name.

Stay away from abbreviations and special characters.

It may be tempting to use abbreviations like ‘u’ or ‘ur’ or even ‘4’ (in place of ‘for’) so that you can find an available domain. However, this will come back to bite you later. You will find yourself saying things like, “That’s Jeremy, the number 4, President dot tv” and THAT becomes tiresome… trust me, I know (drop, the number 9, creative dot com). The idea is to have something that rolls off the tongue phonetically but is also easily communicated literally.

There are several services out there that allow you to buy domain names.

I use probably the best one ever, Namecheap.com. When you go to name cheap.com you can search to see if your domain name is available and purchase it within minutes.

If you can’t find a domain name you are happy with I would love to help you think through it from a marketing perspective. Feel free to give me a call for a free consultation.

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