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How to Choose a Domain Name: Dos and Don’ts

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A domain name is a crucial part of your website’s identity.

Choosing a domain name is an important task for any website owner, since a domain name has the ability to scare off or attract customers to your page.

If chosen correctly, it has the power to improve SEO, impress your readers, and boost your brand.

That’s why it’s essential to know what you should look out for before you register one.

In this article, we’ll explain how to choose a domain name that will offer plenty of benefits. Use our tips to find an ideal domain for your website and give your online presence a credibility boost.

1. Pick the right domain extension

Com Domain Extension Keyword Backlit

A domain extension, also known as top-level domain (TLD), is the last part of your domain name.

So why do we start our tips on how to choose a domain name with it?

Because its one of the most important factors that will affect not just online presence but your business overall.

You’re probably familiar with a .com domain, but it’s important to remember that there are plenty of other domain extensions available. And every domain extension serves a different purpose.

For example, .blog is usually related to personal blogs while .gov is commonly owned by governmental institutions.

There are hundreds of available domain extensions on the internet and some of the most popular ones include:

  • .com – perfect for commercial websites
  • .org – great for organizations
  • .net – commonly used for company and brand networks
  • .info – great for an informational project or an event website

It’s a good idea to choose a domain extension based on your niche. By doing so, you can let the readers recognize your website’s purpose right from the start.

If you are not sure which domain extension to choose, .com is the safest bet. While it was originally intended for commercial websites, it has grown to encompass almost any kind of website. It is the most popular extension, after all.

2. Use keyword combinations

Abstract Architecture

A great domain name should tell visitors what your website is all about. One of the best ways to achieve this is by inserting target keywords.

For example, if you have an online clothing store, using words like boutique, fashion, and apparel could work.

If you can’t come up with a domain name yourself, try using Zyro’s domain name generator.

All you need to do is to enter the desired keywords and the tool will list all of the available combinations that you can use as your domain name.

You can then directly buy the domain name at a competitive price right on the same page.

3. Make a lasting impression

Graffiti that spells out wow

To make a great first impression with your domain name, you should follow these three main rules.

First, your address should be unique because it will help you stand out from the crowd. Thus, your site would have a bigger chance of getting more traffic.

Secondly, your domain name has to be short. We suggest that you use one or two words with a few syllables each. That will make it easier to remember.

Lastly, your domain name needs to be catchy and memorable. You might use a rhyming phrase or a call-to-action tagline, which will easily get stuck in people’s heads long after they’ve left your page.

Here are some of the best domain name examples that meet these three criteria:

  • investopedia.com
  • tripadvisor.com
  • here.com
  • budgetcook.co.uk

4. Know your target market

Man runner target on back of tshirt closeup

Naming a domain is a walk in the park if you already know your target audience.

If you know who your potential customers are and if you can recognize what they want, you’ll be better positioned to offer them something that they’ll like.

For example, you have decided that you want to promote a fitness class to local residents in Seattle.

So, a suitable new domain name would be the one that describes your location and your business, such as SeattleFitness.com or SeattleWorkout.com.

Better yet, talk to some of your target audience members and really listen to the types of keywords that they use. Then, choose a domain that reflects them.

5. Avoid using hyphens, symbols, and numbers

Nope spelled out against a wooden background

A very frequent mistake website owners make is stuffing a domain name with unnecessary characters such as hyphens, symbols, and numbers.

All of these make your address longer and less professional instead of making it unique. What’s more, they are hard to pronounce and type. As a result, you will have a much harder time getting your visitors to come back.

But if you desperately need to use a hyphen or a special symbol, limit it to just a single character.

As for numbers, you can use more than one but make sure they are sequential (e.g. 123) or easily recognizable (e.g. 247, 365).

All in all, a perfect domain name is one that’s doesn’t require any effort on the behalf of the visitor.

If they mistype your domain name that’s too complicated and get taken to a ‘This domain doesn’t exist’ page, they’re going to get frustrated and might not even give your brand a second chance.

6. Unleash your creativity

Bicycle painted like a watermelon parked on street

There are millions of registered domain names and often times, you’ll find that your favorite domain is already taken. But don’t worry – you also have countless options that haven’t been claimed yet.

When deciding on how to choose a domain name, all you need to do is get creative.

You can use synonyms, make a catchy combination, or play around with words to come up with something eccentric and unforgettable.

Just look at some of the biggest websites today – FacebookFlickr, and Netflix. These words certainly weren’t in the dictionary to begin with, but they represent their respective brands perfectly.

In addition, we also recommend brainstorming a list of possible domain names before you register one of them. To find a number of unique words or phrases, you can use tools like the Thesaurus or WordPlays.

7. Think long term

Analog Clock in Black and White

Your domain name is a long term investment, so you should treat it as such and don’t rush the decision on picking the perfect domain.

You will use it to build your brand image and search engine ranking for years to come.

Therefore, you should choose a future-proof domain that will work for your brand, both when it’s just starting out and when it’s getting tens of thousands of visitors.

So, if you expand your niche, your domain name should still define your business and its values as a whole.

A good way to future-proof your business is to think of eventual (hypothetical) expansion strategies and run the domain name ideas list by them.

Is the name of domain still compatible? Then you’re good to go.

8. Consider your brand

Creative lightbulbs above hanging

Your domain name is strongly connected to your brand. In other words, whatever address you choose, it will shape people’s opinions towards your business.

A unique and memorable domain can help you improve your brand image. Here you can even consider using your business name.

And when a positive association is created, your audience is more likely to spread the word about your business.

In contrast, a generic domain name can make your brand look boring and people can easily forget it.

You don’t want that, do you?

That’s why you should consider the many branding opportunities when you go choosing a domain name.

9. Choose a domain that’s easy to type

Wooden letter blocks from Scrabble

When you’re considering how to choose a domain name, try not to get too carried away.

You might not believe it right now, but choosing a domain name that’s a pain to type will quickly hurt both your website and your brand.

Why?

Domain names that are hard to type will result in people landing on the wrong website. This could be anything from an empty page to something more or less related to your field.

Or, they could get to no website altogether and get an error message instead. At that point, you can only pray that they will give your brand a quick Google to find the domain name that’s right.

You will miss out on a lot of traffic and might unintentionally make your brand seem dodgy or untrustworthy.

Some people solve this by forking out some more money to buy the domain names that most commonly get mistaken for theirs.

But there is also a way to prevent this from the get-go. Use day-to-day vocabulary in your new domain name that is easy to pronounce and type.

10. Speed matters

Snowy landscape with Speed Limit sign that's blurry

You’ve come up with the best domain name for your website, but didn’t make a move to actually buy it?

Don’t leave the registration of your domain until later, because the world of domain names is ‘brutal.’

The longer you delay buying your dream domain, the higher the chances are that it will become unavailable.

Particularly .com domain names are in high demand. If you’re unsure, sleep on it, but remember that domain names are usually quite inexpensive.

If you’re looking at annual costs of $10, then that’s a small price to pay for your perfect domain name.

Securing your stroke of genius really won’t break the bank.

11. Check for trademarks

McDonalds golden arcs against a white background

You don’t want to go with a domain name that’s trademarked.

Not only will you find yourself in potential legal trouble, but it’s also going to set your online business up for failure.

So, make sure you check that no trademarks are related to the domain name you’ve chosen.

You can check easily on national or regional databases, such as the US Patent and Trademark Office or the EU Intellectual Property Office.

And if your domain has been taken, don’t worry and tweak it a little. Chances are that you’ll find a good substitute that will let you build your brand without violating someone else’s trademark or copyright.

12. Check for availability on social media

You should choose a domain name that you can also use everywhere else across the internet, especially all the social media channels.

This will build trust and make it easier to create and grow a real brand around your website and business.

You can use tools like Knowem to check that the name you’ve chosen isn’t already taken as a web domain or across social media platforms.

Why your domain name matters

The domain name is an essential part of your website’s identity. Furthermore, it hugely impacts the following three aspects of business growth.

First, whichever domain you choose, it will affect your website’s SEO (search engine optimization). With the right keywords, your domain name can help you rank higher on search engines and attract more organic traffic.

Search engines operate on the principle that the most relevant information regarding the search query will be displayed at the top of the search results.

Let’s say that you’re a personal trainer in New York. By targeting the right keywords in your domain, your website could be the first one to come up when someone searches for ‘personal trainer New York.’

Second, a good domain contributes to the first impression a new visitor will have of your online presence.

Your domain name is the first piece of info about your website that people will spot; it is the best opportunity to get attention and start gaining trust from potential visitors.

You also want to avoid any negative or potentially inappropriate connotations in your domain name.

Sure, your company might deal with IT scrapping and recycling. But what’s the first thing that you think of when you see a domain called itscrap.com?

Nobody wants to end up on this list of the worst domains in the world.

Lastly, your domain name represents your business and impacts how users perceive your brand. Choose a domain name that reflects your business the way your mission statement does.

Neglecting your domain name can make it harder for you to be seen and trusted online. That’s why you pay attention to the domain name you decide to go with.

Registering your domain name

A person on a laptop looking at numbers

After you’ve chosen a domain name, make sure to check the availability using a domain name checker.

Once you’re certain that your dream domain name is available, it’s time to register your domain name on an ICANN-accredited registrar.

This accreditation means that the company will ensure your domain ownership and data safety.

Before you finish the transaction, you have to choose how long you want to register the domain for. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually choose a domain name, pay for it once, and own it for an eternity.

Rather, you’re technically renting your domain name for a set period of time.

If you don’t want to renew your domain every year, opt for owning your domain name for 3 or 5 years.

There are also ways to get a domain name for free.

For example, if you upgrade to certain plans on Zyro, you’ll get a domain for free for the first year.

Alternatively, you can make use of subdomains.

Top website builders usually let you use their services out with a free subdomain. This is a great option for those wanting to test what it’s like to have your very own website.

Written by

Author avatar

Domantas G.

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