There was a time when establishing a domain name for your business as easy as adding “dot com” to your business name. Nowadays, most business names are decided only after an extensive online search to find an attractive and available domain. Selecting your domain name — or website address — takes time, consideration and a fair amount of dogged research.
So if you’re starting a new venture, business or brand, and you need a new domain name, what factors should you consider?
These are the descriptive words that classify or categorize your business. Placing keywords within your web address makes your domain name intuitive and your profession self-evident. Consider this business:
Some business owners create a domain using their name, such as the one above. Unless you’re a well-known author, speaker or brand, utilizing just your name means leaving money on the table. By omitting keywords, you’re not capitalizing on all the opportunities search provides.
While the URL above could be any variety of business — from nutrition consultants to accountants to therapists — the modified version below clearly conveys the business niche.
In addition to the business niche, for locally-focused businesses, including geography as part of the domain helps achieve placement in search results and also is intuitive for users. The top URL below includes the seacoast town where the inn is located, whereas the bottom one is not capitalizing on the benefit of including geography.
Memorable and meaningful
With a memorable web address, it’s easy for others to help you market your business by word of mouth advertising. If your business name explains what your business is about, it’s memorable. Our company name, Online Amplify, shares what we do for our clients — increase their visibility on the web. Consider these other examples; each provides the reader a reasonably good idea what the business is about:
Who needs more complexity in their world? Beware of URLs that are confusing, hard to remember or confusing to spell. There are times when removing the spaces between words (necessary to convert a business name into a URL) makes a perfect good business name confusing.
Example: There’s a financial expert named Ric Edelman who uses radio ads to promote his services. He has a number of websites with keyword-rich URLs. As he is well-known in the financial world, he also has one domain that is simply his name: www.ricedelman.com. He fully embraces the fact that while his URL spells his name, it may read differently for some. In his radio ads, he says, “Go to Ric Edelman dot com — that’s Rice Delman dot com.”
Numbers as part of domain names can be confusing as the user must consider whether to use the numeral or spell out the number. Is your golf website URL www.fiveiron.com or www.5iron.com?
Hyphens are inadvisable for the same reason. Chances are, the reason your URL has a hyphen in it is that the domain without the hyphen wasn’t available. So when a client prospect is looking for you online based on your business name, are they more likely to stumble upon your competitor’s website higher in the search results?
Any complexities regarding your domain name, such as a confusing or hard to spell web address, use of a hyphen or ampersand, can hurt your business. Make your domain easy to read and remember.
Short (but sweet)
Short is good. The goal for your domain name (as for your website content) is to get your point across efficiently. When it comes to website URLs, that means as few characters as possible. While a domain name can be as long as 63 characters, resist the urge. A good target length is 15 characters.
Now for the “sweet” part: In your quest for a shorter URL, don’t forget that your domain name needs to be memorable and understandable. Put yourself in a prospective customer’s shoes when considering a potential domain name and (even though it’s shorter), resist the urge to abbreviate your company name in your domain. While referring to your business by its initials might be second-nature to you, chances are prospects and customers don’t think of your business in those terms.