How Do I Pick the Right Domain Name?
I cannot even begin to count how many times we are asked this very question. Savvy entrepreneurs know that there is more to this than something you think is cool. While there is no “secret sauce” for this… There are some basic metrics that are far more likely to lead to a website’s success. So today I am going to tell you how to plan and pick the “Right Domain Name” for your business.
Keyword(s) in Your Domain Name
There is little argument that having a keyword, possibly 2, in your domain name is a top notch ranking factor. Problem is, that it’s not that simple! There are many other factors (below) that can influence this metric and even upon occasion, negate it all together.
Sure, everyone knows that .com is most popular… But what about protecting your brand? Best rule of thumb here is to get the domain extension most effective for your region. Domain extensions such as .com, .co.ok, .co.au for example, are going to be your best bet. For the US, it’s .com all the way.
If you find that “perfect domain name” and only the .net or [dot]whateveris available… skip it, your customers will be hitting whomever has that .com with the fruits of all your hard work. If you get the .com, then adding those others, such as .net, .me etc, to your portfolio is just great business sense and brand protection.
What was that Domain Name Again?
This may very well have been at the very top of this list…. But I got your attention early on with the big cheese. There is NO VALUE whatsoever in a domain name that no one can remember. This is really a KISS situation.
Avoid dashes (they really aren’t necessary). Stay away from easily misspelled words. Keep it short, sweet and catchy. Don’t replace numbers “4” for words unless you register both and redirect one to the other. Avoid using a plural word, because someone already has the singular version…. Might just call that company on the phone instead and offer to promote their website for free =-)
Last, and certainly not least, avoid adding stupid words to get what you want…. Words added to domains like, mydomain.com or “the” suggested by domain searching tools are just dumb and unnecessary in “most” cases… Besides, your visitors will likely forget it and visit domain.com anyhow.
Pick a domain name that fits your marketplace. This is actually trickier than you may think. We can all (I hope) determine what a term(s) related to our niche is…. BUT, have you considered how the search engines stem words?
Search engines do their best to understand related terms, so when you search for “toy” or “toys” they get it. However, this same excellent service can also bite you too. Some words are spelled the same, but have different meanings… and others still have closely related search terms that have NO relationship with your website’s content.
A perfect example is the word “screen”. If you have the word screen in your domain name/content… Then you will have some pretty unrelated searches coming in like…. PC monitor, window screen, silk screen, full screen, silver screen….etc. So ideally, if you have a word like this, which is so heavily stemmed, you would use another “qualifying keyword” to substantiate it’s theme and relevance…. “ScreenActors.com” for example… The additional keyword “actors” provides relevance to the heavily stemmed “screen”.
Domain Name FAQ
Domain names over 26 characters are supported in most modern browsers, but many email programs and form fields will not be able to handle them. None the less, in most domain extensions you can register up to 63 characters long. Domain names cannot begin or end with a hyphen. Domain names can only ever include English letters, numbers and hyphens.. That’s all. For most extensions the domain name must be 3 letters or longer…. 3 Letter domain names are even restricted in most cases as well.
There are really a host of important things to consider while making your domain name selection, some you can control and some you really cannot. For example, availability is one that is pretty much out of your control. If the name you “have to have” is already registered, you might attempt to purchase it or back order it. BUT, I strongly suggest you have a qualified web professional check it out first for issues, penalty or poor historical performance.