Selecting the perfect domain name is crucial to your marketing efforts because the cost of changing it in the future can be very painful. Not only will it be part of your company brand, the name can actually influence consumers and search engines. If you change it in the future, you may have to go back and update all of your collateral material, and even worse, negate any search engine influence that you built up over time.
Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my Book “25 Website ‘Must Haves’ For Driving Traffic, Leads & Sales.”
You have the business concept, you’ve got the finances in place, and now you’re pulling it all together: your business plan, your unique value proposition, and your branding. You have the business name, but what are you going to call the website?
In a perfect world, you would just stick a “www” in front of your business name, throw a “dot-com” on the end, and you’re all set. Only one problem: your dream name. You know, the one that conveniently sounds like your business? It’s already taken.
It’s not that hard to figure out who owns the domain name that you want, and often, they don’t appear to be doing anything with it. If it isn’t already for sale, you can approach them to see if they would like to sell. Just don’t expect any bargains.
Let’s assume your first choice is out of reach
It’s time to get creative. The problem is there is more to consider than you might think. After all, once you choose a domain name and start using it, it sets off an entire chain of commitment: collateral material, brand recognition, and moving the existing website. It’s better to invest the time and do it right the first time. Over the years, I’ve developed some very strong opinions on domain name selection. There is a certain hierarchy of considerations and compromises.
Is a good “Dot-Com” available? (Probably not)
Generally, dot-com is better than dot-net, dot-biz, etc. Unless you are in one of the specialty industries such as dot-edu (schools and universities), or dot-gov (government agencies), you’re probably better off going with a dot-com domain name if you can find one that makes sense.
The other domain extensions will most likely be perceived as the red-headed step child, or a second choice. In some cases, dot-org or dot-info might even be better choices, but in general, a good dot-com domain is usually most desirable.
My Personal Hierarchy of Domain Name Selection
#1: Shorter is better than Longer
Shorter is easier to type, easier to remember, and fits better on collateral material. At the end of the day, a memorable domain name trumps everything else. If you can’t get a good short domain, try to make it easy to remember. Stringing additional words together that form a sentence, not a paragraph, may make it easier to remember and have some additional search engine advantages. That is, if your domain name is a popular search phrase.
#2: Easy to spell
Face it, some words are just harder to spell than others. Unless someone is clicking on a link, they have to be able to type it in. Hard-to-spell domains leave a lot of room for error. It could even send your customer to someone else’s website.
#3: Avoid Abbreviations and Special Characters
Did you know that SCVMA.org is the Southern California Veterinarian Association? Neither does anyone else. Using special characters, like dashes and hyphens, also make it harder to remember, and in my case, it even taxes my typing skills.
Exact Match Domains (EMDs) are domain names that match a popular search phrase. This used to be a huge advantage in getting a top ranking for that particular phrase in the search results. It’s no longer the silver bullet, but it still carries some weight, provided it is attached to a good website with worthwhile content.
Slight Modifications: If your primary domain is taken, try adding a word or an abbreviation to the end. “DigitalMarketing.com” is long gone, but “DigitalMarketingOC.com” will do nicely if you happen to be located in Orange County, CA like we are.
Stemming: Note that people read from left to right, and by putting the abbreviation on the end, we are able to take advantage of a process called “stemming.” This is where we can visually pick out the full words and compensate for the abbreviation at the end. Also, OC has some cachet and recognition in our local area.
Geo-Target: “GeneraorRental.com” may be gone, but what about “GeneraorRentalHouston.com?”
Domain Ownership Strategy
Keep track of ownership
Often, a business assigns the domain registration to an employee who eventually leaves the company, with no one having the registration information to make changes or renew it. This is surprisingly common. The domain should be assigned to a standard alias like “info@...” and the records should be kept, along with all the other important company info. If you have an IT department, it should be their responsibility.
Buying for Defense
There is always a lot of debate about buying all the variations and combinations of your domain name. The rule of thumb is: If you can afford it, buy it! Why? Because anyone who is likely to buy a similar domain name as yours, is likely to be a competitor of sorts. If you buy it first, you just took it off the market and gained a competitive advantage.
The Full eBook "25 Website 'Must Haves' for Driving Traffic, Leads & Sales" is available for download at no charge
Chuck Bankoff has been a Digital Marketing strategist and an International speaker, author and trainer to Internet Consultants on 5 continents since 1999. He manages a team of website development and web presence optimization specialists from the Kreative Webworks office in Capistrano Beach, CA.
Original Article: How do I Choose the Best Domain Name?
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