Most people jump to website design when they think of the first step of building a powerful, traffic-driving website, but choosing the right domain name is much more vital to the success of a website. When you consider the difficulty of switching websites to a new URL and the potential lost traffic and diminished SEO ranking, it’s clear that choosing the right domain is important at the beginning.
While these days it is harder to find easily available domain names with thousands of domains registered to new users every day, it is still crucial to choose the right domain name that will help brand your company for years to come.
Choose A Unique Name
Research the name you are considering to see if it is close to an already popular domain name. Never choose domains that are plurals, misspelled, or hyphenated versions of an established domain. Be wary of choosing a domain name that could infringe on a copyright leading to a lawsuit.
Choosing a domain name that brands your website or your company is a smart move. Domains like AutoTrader.com, WebMD.com, and CareerBuilder.com are all great examples of effective branding. The domain name tells the user what the website will do. Other big-name companies like Amazon and Monster required much more company branding because the names are less intuitive.
Don’t Go Crazy with Key Words
Gone are the days when key word URLs would gain good Google ranking. While key words still play a role, it is more important now to have a catchy, memorable URL for your users than a string of confusing key words.
Pick a Dot-Com Extension
Dot-coms add legitimacy to your website as well as driving traffic to it. Dot-coms are the expected norm with over 75% of websites using a dot-com extension. That means that folks that are not tech-savvy default to using .coms so do not make the mistake of losing that traffic. If you are not going to use a dot-com extension, you should still purchase it, and redirect traffic with a 301.
Make It Impossible to Misspell
Avoid commonly misspelled words, hyphens, or intentional misspellings. Also avoid numbers because it is hard to remember whether it should be a numeral or written out. Keep it simple. The easier to remember, the easier to spell, the easier to type and the more traffic will make it to your website. Best practice is to choose a domain name with only one possible spelling.
Keep It Short
In the same vein, keep your domain name short. Shorter domains are easier to type and easier to remember. Short domain names also work better for other media, like business cards, where it will fit more easily.
When you are ready to register a domain name, make sure you go here to make sure it’s not already taken.
Now that you have your domain, do not let it expire. Worst-case scenario is that someone will snap it up before you can repurchase it. Either set a reminder on your calendar, or if your registrar offers an auto-new service, take advantage of it.