Everyone has an passionate opinion on this one, and honestly most theories are in general correct as there are many very effective schools of thought regarding domain registrations. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to register a domain that will do what you need it to do. Makes sense?
You most easily accomplish this by starting with an honest marketing and business model first. You must answer some tough questions like:
- What types of services or products will you be selling with your online store? (Now and in the future as you grow)
- What is your targeted area/region or customer base age, gender…? (Demographics)
- What other companies will you form relationships with? (Distribution, etc.)
- What kind of budget does your store development project have? (A real budget… Never over extend)
- What is your plan for marketing and information distribution? (PPC, local marketing etc..)
- Is your brand or company name well known or rich enough to include in your domain effectively? (Probably not)
- What is the potential traffic for your store’s products/services? (What are others in the same niche doing?)
- How much or deep is the competition? (Who’s on top and what do you have to do to beat them?)
- Are you serious about making a successful commerce store… or have you big dreams and little execution?
There are a really host of things to consider in your domain name selection… some you can control and some you really cannot. Obviously, domain availability is one that is generally out of your control. If the name you “must have” is already registered, you might attempt to purchase it for a substantially higher investment. I strongly suggest you have a qualified SEO check it out first as there a many tricks and issues which can spoil the deal… and get a domain broker to handle the purchase for you… Would you sell your house using a car salesman?. Then, realize for certain, this is going to cost a great deal more than 10 bucks… So set your budget and stick to it. Secondly, there are certain rules and restrictions regarding domain name registration.
- Domain names over 26 characters are supported in most web browsers, but many email, programs, and form fields will not be able to handle them. For reasons beyond my comprehension, however, in most extensions you can register up to 63 characters long.
- Domain names cannot begin or end with a hyphen.
- Names can only include English letters, numbers, and hyphens. For most TLD extensions the name must be 3 letters or longer.
Generally speaking, if you plan to target your home country (or another) you will benefit from registering a country level/coded domain and hosting physically residing in that country as well. If you are seeking a global market, then I suggest .com for a business or .net if you have to. If you are an organization or group, then .org would be perfect. In the United States, there is the .us, which I am personally against registering your business with this as it’s main url.. Because it is not widely known, you lose some marketing juice and it is NOT a standard TLD and does not have all the same abilities for its use as a result. If you own the .com and redirect one or the other, then that would be fine and helps to seal your “brand” development from squatters. I am also very much against the .cc, I know some one with a .cc website… A rather large market, that literally loses hundreds of lost customers to the .com business (which is in the same field) simply because the .com extension is so familiar they know its a “C” and boom they’re gone.
Now for some nuts and bolts…. Keyword(s) in your domain name can help you some, if they are relevant and do not inhibit a shopper’s ability to remember your domain name. Some will have to consider whether to chose the keyword path, a brand/company domain name or a snappy easily marketed domain name. Most times you cannot accomplish all of these metrics. That’s where your planning and research comes in to play. I will say this in no uncertain terms, using your business name your business name is probably going to fail you for a very, very long time (unless it’s Pepsi, Coke or Google =-)). There is no valid reason you cannot chose a potentially more successful domain to market now and register, but market your business’ domain later (Buy both). There are some things you might think about when you start plodding though the hundreds of possible names for your web store.
- It should be natural language and make sense.
- I avoid using numbers for words and letters for abbreviated words. “like hot4U”. The reason is, people will not always remember these things, and it will not take long for some squatter to register the “mistake” domains and sweep your precious traffic away. (Not Bf4.com for example)
- Avoid hyphens. This one is a very highly argued topic. So here’s the scoop. If your keywords have high enough search volume… You DO NOT need to separate them with anything to get the value of the keyword picked out or the word(s). If you need to check and see if the search engines know your keyword, just Google it, and look at your keyword in the highlighted words of the search results in the URLs/domains. If you do use a hyphen, keep it to one, people will mess up and not find you. (Trust me)
- Try to pick something snappy and very easy to remember, word of mouth is FREE and effective marketing.
- Shorter is better and if you cannot spell it…. HMM DUH.
- Avoid using the automated tool suggested domains from tools like…”my…” or “the…” they are just unnecessarily irrelevant additions and are probably a good way to register your domain too similar to someone else’s, and when a visitor forgets that irrelevant addition… They other guy will get the visitor.
Here are a couple of quick domain and search related tools you might find helpful. Google trends is a nice way to not only to check up on the search volume of your keywords, but a trended history as well. A good stable history or recent stable upward volume trends can let you know you are on the right track. When you are trying to choose a domain name, DomainsBot will sort your words in many different ways and let you know what is available with some alternate suggestions.
Good luck with your store!