August 13, 2018 Katherine Haas

10 Tips for Choosing an Effective Domain Name

If you own a business, you may have struggled through the process of deciding what to call it. There’s a significant amount of pressure in coming up with a business name that people will not only remember, but that they will gravitate toward. With maintaining a substantial digital presence being a must among today’s tech-obsessed consumers, selecting a strong domain name is equally as important. Your domain is essentially your brand’s web identity; thus, it should be both relevant to your business and easy for your followers to recall. Besides creating a first and lasting impression for consumers, there are other reasons why choosing an effective domain name is so critical.

As with most components of the digital realm, your domain name affects SEO. In the past it had a larger impact on it than it does today—when companies would buy domains that were literally just exact-matches to keywords. Google has done away with allowing these Exact Match Domains to rank. Now, choosing an effective domain name promotes SEO in terms of higher click-through rates, brand identity and simply consumer confidence in your brand.

Choosing an effective domain name may not happen overnight, but here are a few general practices to keep in mind when navigating the process.

  • Make it relevant to your brand. This one’s pretty obvious, but the domain that you choose to represent your business should certainly connect to your brand. Whether it uses the exact name of your business, an abbreviated version, or it signifies the type of products or services that you offer, relevance is key to coming up with a domain name that your followers will make a connection with.
  • Keep it simple. A simple domain name is one that will be easy for people to remember and recite back when it comes time for sharing with friends or typing it into a browser. Also, if your domain is too long or complex, there is more room for people to make a typo when spelling it out. In general, the shorter the domain name, the better. Another part of keeping your domain simple is avoiding the use of hyphens and numbers, which make spelling and pronouncing it all the more difficult.
  • Be memorable. Not only should your domain be simple, but it should also stand out from the crowd. There are literally millions of registered domain names out there, so how are you going to make sure yours gets noticed? Make it a point to establish a domain name that is catchy, clear and appealing to the audience that you’re trying to attract.
  • Let users know what you’re offering. Like us, you may choose to have your straightforward name as your domain (mcnuttpartners.com). However, there is something to say about including information about what your company does in your domain if your business name doesn’t necessarily reveal it. (If we were to use our name as an example, it might be mcnuttpartnersdigital.com, for example). It is beneficial for people to be able to look at a domain and infer what it is that the website conveys.
  • Try for location specificity. If you own a local business, it could bode well for you to include your location in your domain. Let’s say you own a flower shop in Auburn, Alabama, and the name of your shop is simply your name—we’ll call it “Ruth’s.” Since the name of your shop is not telling of the nature of your business, you might select a URL like “auburnflowers.com” or “ruthsauburn.com.” Both of these versions give the web user just a little more information that can be helpful in their search for whatever it is they are looking for (in this case, flowers in Auburn).
  • Consider keywords. Like we said above, gone are the days of keywords in your domain equaling an automatic high ranking by Google. In fact, if Google sees that you are purposely keyword stuffing, it could have an opposite effect. However, if a keyword naturally fits into your domain without feeling forced, then go for it. Hyperlink text from people linking to your domain can help, especially if it includes a keyword. Be sure to leave out words such as “the” and “and” in most cases when choosing an effective domain name. Also avoid business titles like “inc.” and “llc.”
  • Check to ensure it’s unique. You want your domain to be unique for obvious reasons—such as making your brand stand out among the rest, but there are also legal implications of making sure your domain is distinct. If the domain you choose turns out to be trademarked or copyrighted by another company, it could equal legal trouble for you that would ultimately be best to avoid.
  • Opt for common extensions. These days, there are literally hundreds of domain extensions beyond the traditional “.com” that you can purchase to accompany your domain. However, while extensions like “.pizza” and “.cool” may sound fun, generally people do not recognize them and will likely type in “.com” out of habit. We recommend sticking with traditional ones like “.com,” “.org,” and “.net.”
  • Be competitive. When choosing an effective domain name, you should be defensive in securing all of the surrounding real estate similar to that name, so to speak. This means purchasing various domain extensions—specifically ones that are variations of the domain you use, including misspelled versions of your domain name. Doing this prevents a competitor from coming in and taking over a domain that is all too similar to yours. It also allows you to redirect the varied domains to your actual site in the event that a web user makes a mistake when trying to reach your page.
  • Think about the long-term. The domain you choose to represent your business now should be one that will still represent your business well 10 years from now. Of course, you can always change your domain, but doing so can be costly, can disrupt your branding and can confuse your followers. If you can, you want to avoid the stress of changing your domain name by choosing one that will work for you in the long-term on the front end.

Choosing an effective domain name can seem daunting, but following these guidelines can help you select one that will be a successful representation of your business’s web identity.

Need help picking a domain? The McNutt & Partners team can help. Call us today at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

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