Choosing the Right Domain Name

Launching a new brand? Securing the right domain name should be at the top of the list when rolling out a website. Before you embark on the website planning and design process, you should have your new domain name locked in. The domain needs to obviously sync up with your company or product identity but it’s becoming more of a challenge to find the perfect domain that hasn’t been nabbed. Choosing the right URL is similar to developing a company/product name. Many of the linguistic principles (see earlier company naming basics post) apply to crafting a great domain name. Here are a few tips to help land that perfect domain name:

Make it Memorable

How many times have you tried to type in a URL someone mentioned and you can’t quite get it right? Domain names should be intuitive, easy to spell and relate to your specific brand or unique offering. Avoid special spelling variations of words unless your brand is based on a hybrid spelling like Flickr or Zappos. Abbreviations should be avoided as well. A domain like WorldWideInvestments.com is way more memorable than something like worldwinvests.com.

Keep it Short

Brevity can be a challenge, especially when your first, second, or third domain preference has been registered already. Shorter domain names are easier to remember and work better in marketing materials with limited space such as a business card or small ad.

Get Creative with Keywords

More and more domain names are registered every day and you may find your first choice has been taken. Create a list of keywords that relate to your company. Adding the right keyword to your URL may help make it more memorable and more attractive to search engines. A good example of a domain with a keyword would be our URL, engine8design.com — engine8.com was not available so we added the keyword “design.”

No Hyphens or Symbols

Adding a hyphen between two words may seem like a simple way to get a domain close to your actual company name, but it breaks the first rule I listed. Domains should be memorable and hyphens are hard to communicate verbally and hard to remember. Symbols such as #^%$ are not allowed in URLs.

Go with Dot-Com

Although the list of domain extensions keeps growing, choosing a .com domain is still important. Most web users still assume all websites end in .com. Sure, .biz and .tv are catchy but they’re neither memorable nor intuitive. Go with .com if you can.

Be Unique

Do some research to see what domains your competitors are using. Think of ways to make your URL stand out and avoid similarities. If your competition is using a domain like SurfPro.com don’t go with something like SurfboardPros.com. The similarity will lead to confusion and do little to distinguish your online brand.

Use a Free Domain Search Tool

There are several free domain search tools out there and most web hosting companies offer basic domain search. Here are two of my favorite tools for choosing website domain names: