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how to choose a domain name

How to choose a Domain Name for your website

It’s wrongly assumed by many that the first step to developing a website is the web design. However, your best option is to choose a domain name which helps in create a great logo, and in turn influences the design of the website design.

A great domain name is an important part of the website design.  A domain name is often the first clue a potential visitor or customer gets about the content of your website.

Clients ask many questions about how to choose a domain name, such as:

  • Should I include hyphens or not?
  • Should I use my business name or choose a domain using a catchy business related phrase?
  • Can I have multiple domain names and how will it affect SEO?
  • Should I include keywords in my domain name and how do I go about choosing one in the first place?

Therefore I have written this quick guide with some useful tips for choosing a domain name for a website.

The first thing to remember when choosing a domain name for a website is that it will usually be the first thing people see (and remember), so you need to get it right!

In essence, ideally, your domain name should be:

  • Short in length without losing branding and identity
  • Memorable and perhaps catchy
  • Easy to say, mispronunciation could affect word of mouth marketing
  • Easy to spell, not too confusing or complicated
  • Distinguishable from competitors – Not too similar to competitor domain names
  • Not violate a trademark of another company, competitor or not

Consider these tips when you choose a domain name:

  • Keep it short – Choose a name that is not too long and is not too confusing, you don’t want visitors to have a hard time remembering it. The shorter your domain name, the easier it will be for people remember. If your site domain name is long and difficult to pronounce, people won’t remember it. Don’t try to be too clever, if a domain name is hard to spell or too complex it makes for typing errors. Shorter domain names fit better on business cards and marketing materials too.
  • Shortlist service, product or industry related keywords – Try using keywords that describe your business and the services. For example, www.CateringServices.co.uk or WeddingPlanner.co.uk maybe a better option if your company name does not describe your service. Include the keywords that people enter when searching for your products or services as it can improve rank on search engines and it also often communicates the service you are offering in the search engine lists. It’s always best to get your business name and perhaps consider forwarding that to a sensible URL which is not blatently spammy with keywords.
  • Avoid domains too similar to a competitor – If a competitor has already bought a domain name such as a .com but a .co.uk version is available it is tempting to buy it. However, your website could be confused with a popular site already owned by your competitor.  A customer could easily type in .com and not .co.uk. Don’t choose a domain that is the plural, hyphenated or misspelled version of an already established domain of a direct competitor.
  • Use hyphens with care – Hyphens make it hard to communicate your domain name verbally, you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t even know what a hyphen is! However, Hyphens help separate multiple words in a domain name, making it less likely that a person will accidentally misspell the name.  Having words crunched together makes it hard on the eyes.
  • Have some alternative options – Prepare some alternatives in case your first choice of domain name is already taken. There are many alternative top level domain names available today including .com, .net, .org, and .biz. In the uk it’s best to by .co.uk or even the new options of .co or .uk.
  • Use the correct Domain Name Extension – Extensions are the part at the end of Web addresses. These can have specific uses, here are some examples:
    • .co.uk implies a “commercial uk company” and is the most widely used extension in the UK.
    • .com stands for “commercial,” and is the most widely used extension in the world. .com domains are registered in the USA and are therefore normally associated with US companies. However, similar to UK domains, there is no restriction on who or where the owner of the domain can be.
    • .co : an abbreviation for company, commerce, and community
    • .info : informational sites
    • .net : technical, Internet infrastructure sites
    • .org : non-commercial organizations and non-profits
    • .biz : business or commercial use, like ecommerce sites
    • .me : blogs, resumes or personal sites
  • A domain name should reflect service or product – When someone hears or sees your domain name for the first time, they should be able to instantly guess the type of content that might be found on your website.
  • Consider domain names that may not include the name of your company.
  • Remember that you can own multiple domain names, all of which can point to a single domain.
  • Target a County or City – If your business is local, consider including your city or county in your domain name.
  • Get discovered – Discoverable domain names are real words and phrases. The trick to a discoverable name is find a phrase that other people would likely think of and would type in a search engine. Unfortunately it’s hard to find one that hasn’t yet been registered, good ones usually have.
  • Protect and Build Your Brand – Consider purchasing various domain extensions, as well as misspelled versions of your domain name. This prevents competitors from registering other versions.

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