You’ve stumbled upon a brilliant new concept, the likes of which the world has never seen. Congratulations! Now what? Not to rain on the cheer parade, but before you can take your gazillion dollar idea to the collective masses, you’ll need to choose a fabulous domain name.
In today’s globally connected world, it’s great to have a fabulous product, service, or idea….but it’s not enough. Unless you build a product the world simply can’t live without, you’ll need a website. Not an app, social media page, or YouTube channel; in order to effectively plant your wares firmly on the consuming public’s radar, a website is a must. If your website performs well online, your business is on its way to success. Conversely, if you don’t have a website that performs, no matter how many ads you buy on Facebook or Google, you’ll struggle to succeed.
In short, digital success starts with a great website…and a great website starts with a great domain name. While you may feel tempted to race off and visualize your overall web design concept or strategize your site’s color scheme, it’s not where you launch your project. You start by choosing (or creating) a killer domain name.
Not prioritizing your domain name or picking the wrong name for your site altogether can have dire, long term brand consequences, so don’t risk it. Go into the online name game armed with everything you need for optimal success.
The not-so-good-news? Getting the domain right can be tough, especially given the fact that many .com versions are already taken. However, if you do get it right, the payoff is absolutely worth it. A solid URL yields a multitude of benefits, including:
- Establish authority/credibility
- Reinforce brand identity
- Promote business
Ready to get started on your million-dollar moniker? Keep these key tips in mind to ensure you choose a website winner:
Make It Foolproof
Typos happen. While you can’t control the occasional fat-finger mishap, you can minimize confusion on exactly what people should be typing when pulling up your site. Omit slang (using “4” instead of “for”) and eliminate words that have multiple spellings. Additionally, avoid:
- Mixing numbers with words: (gØØd-dØmain.com)
- Hyphens: (good-domain.com)
- Homonyms: (suite-domain.com)
- Abbreviations (2cool-domain.com)
You get the general idea. In short, make it virtually impossible for online surfers not to find you.
Your website isn’t only trying to wrest attention away from your industry competition; it’s actually fighting to be seen amongst millions of other registered domain names. Catchy and clever are must-have features. Test out ideas with friends to see if they love them as much as you do.
Using long, overly-complex domain names also increases the risk of typos or misspellings (or boring your audience completely before they even finish typing). Keep it short and sweet by using just one or two words, max.
Despite the very best of branding intentions, bad domains happen…a lot. You already know several things to avoid
- too long
- too bland
- too hard to type
However there are a few more “don’ts” to consider when choosing a URL so you sidestep website catastrophe.
When selecting your name, don’t:
Be Too Trendy
Buzzwords are great – as long as you somehow manage to select a buzzword with staying power. We’ve all witnessed how quickly today’s trendy catchphrase can morph into tomorrow’s awkward tagline (“Wazzzzzup,” anyone?). If you find yourself jumping on the fad bandwagon with certain words, phrases, and misspellings, you may be trending towards an epic domain name fail. Even Flickr finally had to purchase flicker.com to stop the misspelling madness and, chances are, you’re not Flickr.
Forget To Read It Out Loud…A Lot
Also known as, “don’t accidentally string together words that could create other, possibly unsavory, phrases.” One actual (and more G-rated) example: itscrap.com – an IT company that also offers a hardware scrap program. Apparently the company has realized that the world at large isn’t clamoring to partner with an itscrap firm and changed its URL to regencytechnologies.com.
Sound Like Someone Else
Some sites try to hitch their domain name wagon to someone else’s well-established branding star. Sure, www.lootsuite.com may trick a few people into calling on you because they assume you are HootSuite. However, this tactic can quickly backfire and become a major nuisance. Be original and let your unique name build its own online marketing momentum.
You’ve avoided the bad name pitfalls and pinpointed the world’s most perfect domain name…only to realize the .com version is already taken. No, you don’t need to rethink your entire brand. It’s not over yet.
First, if you notice that the name you’ve chosen is taken, but looks inactive, find out who actually owns the domain. There are several online sites that can help pinpoint who owns it and when it will expire. If the date is close, you may want to bide your time and see if becomes available. If the expiration date isn’t close, you can reach out to the owner of the name to see if they are willing to sell it.
Determined to not modify your domain name? You may want to consider using an alternative top-level domain (TLD). Yes, .com should always be your first choice whenever possible, particularly if you’re planning to go big, nationwide, or international with your new brand. Many business owners assume they can always get their .com version “later.” Unfortunately, as their business grows, so does the price for the .com name they want.
If you can swing it, it generally always pays to pay a little extra and get a solid .com domain from the beginning. However, if you’re a startup, small, or medium business, you do have other potential options. If you’re keeping things local, using .org or .net or other available choice is a potential solution to your domain name dilemma.