I recently taught a class for start-ups and entrepreneurs on web marketing. I dedicated one slide to the topic of selecting a domain name. I was extremely surprised how this topic sparked so much discussion and interest. In light of this, I thought a blog post would help others facing that most important decision.
Many of the unemployed today are reinventing themselves and starting up businesses. One of the most important tasks a business owner must consider, second to selecting a company name, is the selection of their domain name. Brands are greatly affected by the ability of the company to obtain the matching domain name. If a company builds a brand around a name to which it does not own the domain name, it can end up directing traffic to another domain owner’s site. If it is a competitor, this surely would be problematic.
As you list your potential choices, determine how the name will be interpreted in both writing and in speech. Two or three word domains can easily be read in more than one way. A good domain name should require little or no explanation when verbalized. In other words when you tell someone your web site address and they ask, “is 2 spelled to
or two”? or “is it the number 2?”. Having to offer an explanation adds an unnecessary level of confusion and will guarantee that your domain name will be difficult to remember.
Numbers should be avoided and so should phonetic letters; i.e. “fone” for “phone”, “magik” or “Magic”. Also avoid homophones like “sweet” and “suite”. Avoid hyphens; i.e. www.my-company-store.com.
When you search domains during the purchasing process you’ll see the many extensions (.com, .biz, .info, .us) that are available. Domain registrars will always show you the “3rd rate” names like .biz, .us, .info etc. They want to increase the amount of your order by encouraging you to sign up for those names. Do resist for the mere fact that the business world thinks in .com and that’s the way it is. So stick with .com under all circumstances.
Keep your name as short as possible. Remember you domain will be reflected in your email address. If the name is longer but yet easy to remember and spell than that should be acceptable.
And once you register your domain, do put up a placeholder or a splash page until your web site is ready. The experts claim domain name longevity is a factor in search ranking. Now that is another whole topic.