Top 10 tips to make sure your domain is a hit at MI6……and on the World Wide Web
When you launch your website, you want to make sure you don’t just stir up your industry, you want to shake it! (Okay, I realize these are really cheesy James Bond references..I’ll stop.)
One of the very first things you will need to launch your company’s website is to come up with a great domain name (url of your website). These days your domain name is probably also going to be your company name, so it’s vitally important to find a name that will help your company grow and prosper. I own over 100 domains, some with great names and others…well, not so good. However, I have learned a few things over the years in regards to what makes a great domain name and I wanted to share them with you below.
Top 10 tips for selecting a domain name:
- Brainstorm keywords and phrases – Before you start brainstorming actual urls, you should first write down at least 5-10 keywords and phrases to describe your industry. If you own a pizza shop for example, you might right down “brick-oven, new york style, toppings galore, and thirty minute delivery.” Use these keywords to direct your thinking on the domain. Try mixing and matching the keywords, putting other words at the beginning and end and try out other phrases that have the same meanings. You should come up with a list of at least 5 candidates as you will find that many domains are already taken.
- Easy to remember – So much business these days is still good ‘ole word of mouth. You want your domain to be easy to remember. If a name isn’t easy, it’s probably not going to be top of mind when a potential customer is browsing the internet.
- Easy to spell – Building on the previous suggestion, if you can remember it easily, you can probably spell it easily. When the website del.icio.us came out, I loved it, but I could never remember where to put the periods. Delicious realized this too and now it’s just delicious.com.
- Shorter the better – If the domain is shorter, then its probably easier to remember and easier to spell. Shorter domains take up less room in Twitter, on your business cards and in search engine listings.
- Don’t use strange symbols and don’t be cute with your spelling– Avoid the use of dashes, ampersands (&), numbers and any other characters that could be easily confused or make the domain difficult to remember. Also, I personally don’t like the latest trend of leaving out letters in common spellings. How many people go to tumbler.com every day, expecting to get the Tumblr blogging site, only to find themselves on a site dedicated to great beverage containers instead.
- Avoid similar sounding domains – I used to work at iContact. Our biggest competitor was ConstantContact. I can’t even count how many times I heard friends and customers tell me “I heard your radio ad on ESPN this morning” and for me to have to tell them that unfortunately, no it wasn’t our company advertising today (although we did advertise on ESPN as well, adding to the confusion). All friends and customers heard was “contact”, “email marketing” and assumed it was us. If there is a chance your domain could be confused with another company, it will be.
- Use http://ajaxwhois.com/ to find availability – Once you have your first list of domain names, use this service to find out if you can buy the name. Most new businesses will not have the budget to make an offer on a domain that is already owned, but that is always an option. Don’t be discouraged if your first list of names is already taken. This just means you get a chance to be more creative. Also, unless your customers are going to find you in ways other than via search engines, you really need to get a .com domain, no .biz, .co or .xxx for you. Building on tips 2,3, and 4, most people automatically think of .com and will not even try other common extensions.
- Check on copyrights – You have your domain picked, it’s available with a .com extension, now just one last check before you buy it. Make sure someone else doesn’t already have a copyright on it. Use copyright.gov to do a check (disclaimer: copyright.gov does not have all copyright info and should be used at your discretion)
- Buy common misspellings – Peeple R horrrible @ spellling. Even if you have worked hard to make sure your domain is easy to spell, go ahead and buy other other domains that represent any way someone might misspell it. Then redirect that domain over to your actual domain. With domain registration as low as $5 a year, it’s easy to buy up all domains that are available but could cause a potential visitor to stumble.
- Don’t be afraid to change – Even after you buy your domain, you might find that customers can’t spell it, can’t remember it or it’s confusing. If it doesn’t work, go get something else. What is great about a website is the ability to easily fix what is broken. Just keep that old domain too, you never know who already has it bookmarked or has now associated it with your company.
Do you have a great story about how you came up with the domain name for your website? Let us know!