Creating a website for your business can be a stressful endeavor from the start. With so many things to keep in mind, you draw a blank when trying to come up with your website's domain name. Consider these seven things when you go to choose an awesome domain name.
But First, Why an Awesome Domain Name is Important
Every computer has an Internet Protocol address (IP address). This address is composed of a unique string of numbers separated by periods. Obviously, trying to remember the IP address of all our favorite websites is functionally impossible so we use domain names instead.
Domain names are one of the most important things about your website. They have the potential to tell a person more about your website than where to find it.
A memorable domain name can be the difference between success or failure. This is because they add credibility to your business and can bring in a lot of foot traffic if you have a physical store. Not only that but having the right domain name is essential for building your brand.
You want something that is memorable to your target audience. If they can’t remember your website they either have an extreme short term memory or the most common possibility – your domain name was bland and unremarkable.
Short vs. Long Domain Names
We’re all familiar with the phrase less is more. We often hear it used when teaching your son or your annoying friend about the proper amount of cologne or when we’re attempting to declutter our house. This expression is relevant in our everyday lives, but it becomes more important when choosing a domain name.
So let’s examine the benefits and detriments of each, shall we?
Long Domain Name
Short Domain Name
Sometimes when you’re trying to choose an awesome domain name you find your first picks are too vague. In this case, you might consider creating a long domain name. I can already hear people screaming at their computer that long domain names are the spawn of Satan and should never be used but they can be good.
Long domain names no longer hinder sharing as many websites like Twitter shorten them.
On the downside, people are likely to forget ordering of words or even forget a word in your domain name.
Short domain names are usually preferred to long domain names because they’re short, concise, and super easy to remember.
Short domain names also are easier to print out on materials such as business cards and brochures.
A problem with a shorter domain name is availability. If your desired name has common words in it then at best, it’s not available, and at worst, it's listed as a premium domain for $50,000. This isn’t all bad though. Short domain names force you to get creative, meaning that your name will only stand out more.
Exact Match Domain Names and SEO
You now might be thinking the best way to get those tasty clicks is to fill your domain with as many keywords as possible. Once upon a time, you would've been right but things have changed. Let me explain…
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process to maximize the number of visitors to your site by getting your website high up on search results.
Exact match domains or EMDs is when a URL has one or more keywords in it that it wants to rank for. So if you search for bookstores and see a website www.bookstores.com that is an EMD.
They used to be a popular way to bump up your spot on search engines. Companies would cram their sites with as many keywords as possible so they would get the most traffic. However, Google has updated their algorithms and EMDs don’t have that much power anymore.
So avoid going too keyword crazy, as you won’t get the results you are hoping for. Websites that use this practice often appear spammy and untrustworthy to customers. It's a lose-lose situation so it's best to do the best you can and try to move on.
Relevancy to Brand
One of the things a domain name should do for you is bring awareness to your brand. If you’re building a website for your business that sells coffee you’ll want the domain to be related to that. So for example, if our coffee business is called Espresso Express our domain should be something like www.espressoexpress.com.
That way when people see your website they’ll immediately think of your business. This strategy reinforces your brand making passing the website and business along to others easy.
Now, at the time of writing, this particular example domain is taken! So it would be apt to get creative or think of another awesome name or negotiate a price with the owner.
Option to Expand and Update Web Content
On one hand, it’s smart to choose a domain name that’s specific to your business so people will know what you’re about. On the other hand, your domain name should leave room for your website and business to expand and grow.
If you’re a blogger and your niche is Victorian poetry about pebbles your website could be www.pebblesinvictorianpoetry.com.
What if in a year or two you want to expand your blog to include all Victorian poetry? www.pebblesinvictorianpoetry.com is suddenly a noose around your neck.
The best way to avoid hanging yourself is to keep your domain name as broad as possible while still being unique to your business. You can always get into details on your homepage. This allows you to maximize traffic to your business while still leaving you room to grow.
Often when there are fads people become so enthralled they try to incorporate it into everything. Some go as far to include into their business, like in a domain name. From small up and coming businesses to giant corporations, it happens but it doesn't have to.
Fads by definition are fantastic for a moment, but are ultimately short-lived.
When you're trying to build a web presence, you don't want to be short-lived. You want your website to be the thing that lasts so long that aliens will find it.
Sorry to anyone who wanted www.yodelingkidsinginglessons.com as a domain name, it’s for the best. Even if this is your niche, why subject children to this?
Avoid the Year
Years have the same problem as fads, they have a short shelf life. It might seem okay to include the year in your domain name to increase SEO or just to memorialize the beginning of your website. After all, those best ____ 20XX articles aren't ranking for no reason.
Whatever the reason this should be avoided. It dates your website fast, so when someone runs into your website five years from now they'll think it's outdated and won't even click it.
People want relevant information.
Your Awesome Domain Name is Taken! What's Next?
You’ve done it, you’re at the end of the road. You’ve followed all the steps in this article and are ready to take that last step and purchase your domain name.
Too bad it's unavailable! Oh noes!
This is heartbreaking for sure. But don’t give up yet. You had to get creative when you first came up with it, just get creative again but this time crank it up.
Sometimes all you need to do is drop or add an article and boom! You’re back in business. This step might seem silly and simple but give it a shot to see if you like it. It doesn’t hurt to use www.thephotoheaven.com if www.photoheaven.com has been stolen from underneath you. Be wary though, this could cause confusion for customers if your domain name is only a word off from some other website. This strategy should only be used if your dead set on your domain name and you think you can outshine the other guys.
Another strategy is to try and include some of the services you’ll provide rather than focusing solely on matching company name to domain name. This can be done by using keywords or jargon associated with your business. Travel agencies might use fly, soar, or wander. A florist could choose bloom, pollen, floral, etc.
Take whatever you’re in and run with it.
Real World Example
When I was coming up with Website Jolt, I knew I wanted to help people with their website creation process but I was just going to niche down focus on domain and domain name service (DNS) tools only.
Since this was a project I was considering, I decided to settle on a name first before getting started.
Here's a list of domains I tested to see if they were available:
And at the time, THEY WERE ALL TAKEN or at least for sale for an absurd amount. I even flipped the order, having domain(s) at the end where it made sense (it didn't make sense for all of them – depthdomain.com anyone?).
At this point I was defeated. My idea halted to a screeching stop at the name or lack thereof. Time to go back to the drawing board. Maybe there were enough domain buying websites and DNS tools or maybe I could offer a more complete package.
I eventually found websitejolt.com was available and snatched it up as fast as my fingers could type and Google could load (I purchased this domain through Google Domains – not an affiliate, just using them for a few domains).
After that, I wanted to help people get their web presence up as quick as possible, hence the name Website Jolt!
First impressions are important, and your domain name will leave a lasting impression on those who happen across it. So make sure as you go through the process of choosing a domain name you make all seven major considerations:
- Long vs. short names.
- EMD and SEO.
- Relevancy to brand.
- Leave room to expand and update content.
- Avoid fads.
- Avoid years (unless your website is solely dedicated to that year or set of years – wouldn't that be an interesting project).
- Get re-energized when your awesome domain name is already taken.
You’ve worked so hard to get here already, why would you get lazy now?