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Previously we looked at the key elements for setting up your website. Today’s topic is choosing a domain name. Choosing the right domain name for your website is essential. It is your online brand presence and your first impresssion for many prospective customers. It’s very easy to get your domain name wrong, so I have put together a few tips here on choosing the right domain name for your site.

Choosing a Domain Name

Here are some tips for choosing a good, memorable domain name.

  1. Make it represent your brand and make it easy to remember. If possible, make it relevant to your business. If you own a cat grooming business called Cat Cuts, you should try registering catcuts.com or catcutsgrooming.com. This has two advantages – it makes your domain name easier to remember, and it also helps to create your brand image in people’s minds. In the example above, catcuts.com creates a much better image than catgroomers.com, for example.
  2. Make it easy to type. Don’t use slang spellings of words, such as “u” for “you” or “m8” for “mate”. A good test for this is to tell your friends and family the domain name you’re thinking of and ask how they would spell it. If more than a couple spell it wrong, you should think about changing.
  3. Make it easy to pronounce. Your satisfied customers will tell their friends about your website, so it must be easy to say for the customer and easy to hear for the friend. As above, you can test pronouncability with your family and friends. Write the idea for your domain name down and ask your friends and family to pronounce it. Again, if more than a couple pronounce it wrong, consider changing.
  4. Keep it short. The shorter the domain, the easier it is to remember. According to a gaebler.com study, the top 5 domains all contain less than 6 characters. The longest domain name in the top 100 websites is 17 letters. It would probably cost you thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to purchase the rights to a 6 letter domain, but if possible, try for a domain with 15 or fewer characters.choosing a domain name - domain length vs popularity
  5. Avoid numbers and dashes. As we discussed above, your domain name must be easy to remember, easy to type, easy to pronouce and short. Adding a number might help by shortening a word, but generally makes it more difficult to remember. Don’t make people try to remember whether it was number 5 or the word five. Dashes make your domain name longer and also more difficult to type, so leave them out.
  6. Bias towards .com. Over 75% of the internet uses the .com extension. This is because it’s what people are familiar with. There are many successful sites that use another extension, such as .net or .org, but your chances of success are higher with a .com.
  7. Modify your name if necessary. If your business name is not available as a domain name, you can make some small adjustments to the domain, Try adding short prefixes – the if you’re the only one, eat at if you’re a restaurant etc. You could register “thepigeonpark.com” if “pigeonpark.com” isn’t available, “eatatdarenzo.com” if “darenzo.com” is already taken.
  8. Use a domain name generator to help. Domain name generators are websites that help you to search for available domain names that are relevant to your business. Usually you simply enter your business name and a few keywords about what your business does and they will give examples of domain names that you could register. Some are better than others, but a few of my favourites are listed below:
    •  Name Mesh – this one is my favourite. I have used it several times to get ideas on available domain names based on the keywords I was interested in.
    • Lean Domain Search – another good domain generator that I’ve used for ideas once or twice before.
    • NameChk – not quite the same as the other two, but you enter your desired domain name into NameChk and it will search whether it is available. It also checks all the major social media platforms for availability of the same name. Very useful for branding purposes when choosing a domain name.