Choosing a domain name for your business is difficult these days. Choosing a brand name is difficult enough (believe me, it took weeks for me to think of EggCup Web Design). But it can be even harder to pick up a domain that encapsulates your brand, is memorable and easy to type, and most importantly — still available!

This is the best advice I can give when deciding on how you are going to represent your brand through your choice of domain name. I hope it helps to narrow down your options:

Shorter is better

  • Abbreviate your company name if it’s long, or turn it into an acronym.
  • Longer domain names can be more descriptive, and include more keywords, but they still need to be memorable and easy to type.

Clear and simple

  • Don’t use ‘txtspk’, e.g seeUl8er.com. This is a fad, and will age badly. It’s also more difficult to remember. The only exception might be if your target market is skilled at the art of txtspk – but carry out market research to confirm this first!
  • Never use hyphens, e.g xyz-plumbing-services.com. Our brains tend to forget punctuation when memorising domains because we say the words out loud in our heads, but not the punctuation. How often do you catch yourself saying ‘full-stop’ in your head when you’re reading? Hyphens also make domains more of a mouthful when you’re telling your customers about your site. Forget them.
  • Make sure your domain is easy to say and spell, and as unambiguous as possible. This is something you’ll have to repeat over and over again, so make sure you’re comfortable with it.
  • Avoid ‘slurls’. These can occur when an unintended double-meaning arises out of the words you choose for your domain. A slurl can be hugely embarrassing if your customers spot it before you do. For example, www.experts-exchange.com is a technology forum that used to be based at: www.expertsexchange.com. This is one example where adding a hyphen to the domain was the only way to solve the problem without rebranding the entire company. If you’re not faint of heart, there are plenty more amusing examples at slurls.com

Unique and memorable

  • Sometimes easier said than done, but avoid common, generic words that will neither rank well, nor distinguish your company. For example, lowcostgardening.com – ‘low cost’ not only cheapens your brand but has already been enormously over–used on the web. Garden–variety keywords like this do nothing to distinguish your company from the competition.
  • Use a location in your domain name if you’re planning to focus your offering on a particular region. How specific you are is down to how far afield you expect to be able to reach.

Optimise for keywords if possible

  • Add in particularly relevant keywords to your industry or target market. Use keyword analysis tools if you’re not sure what best to include, but this is a whole separate article in itself.
  • Don’t add too many keywords — never make a domain name longer for the sake of it. The keywords you do use must be highly relevant to the people who will be searching for what you have to offer.

Make your domain personal

  • Keep your domain name in line with your brand if possible, this is generally trickier if your business uses your own name and this is difficult to say or spell.
  • If you have problems with your customers recognising or understanding your business name over the phone then consider using something else instead. You could try thinking along the lines of your key products or services.

Buying more than one domain

  • You can register as many domains for your business as you like. If you often find customers mis–spelling your business name, or you can anticipate customers making mistakes, consider registering these alternatives too.
  • You might even want to buy multiple domains and point them to different sub–sections of your site if you’d like to market key services separately. For example, if you were called abcaccountants.com, you could also buy abctaxreturns.com and have it lead straight to the part of your site that deals with tax returns.

Keep hold of your domains

  • Once you’ve taken the plunge and paid for your domain registrations, make sure you keep hold of them:
    1. Register your domain names for the longest time period you can afford — 10 years is a great idea. This sends a signal to Google that you’re serious about your website and business, and that you’re not just trying to grab a bit of short-term SEO juice by registering a domain name stuffed full of keywords.
    2. Make sure you set your domains to ‘auto-renew’. For this to work, you’ll also have to make sure you keep a current form of payment on your account too. Don’t run the risk of losing control of your brand!

As always, we’re here to help, so contact us if you’d like more advice about choosing a domain name, or any other aspect of web design and we’ll be happy to help.