Do you know how to choose a domain name for your website?
Having to choose a domain name can be one of the trickiest first steps to getting a new website. After 25 years of world wide web, it can sometimes seem like all the best domain names have already been taken.
The process of choosing your website domain name or names can be a lot easier if you haven’t already selected your business name – if there is a degree of flexibility, you can create a business name that you have checked is available as a domain and your social media handles.
However, if your business name is already established, you might need to think creatively to land a domain name that matches your brand.
How do Domain Names work?
Domain names are also known as URLs (Uniform Resource Locator), and are usually a memorable word or phrase that diverts to an IP (Internet Protocol) address. When you type in http://thisorthatwebsitename.org you are actually visiting a series of numbers that may look more like http://126.96.36.199.
Domain names are essentially rented out by domain name registrars and their resellers. You can’t buy a domain name for all eternity, but you can buy the rights to use it for 1 to 2 years at a time, depending on what sort of Top Level Domain you want to secure. Top-level domains are the extensions associated with domain names, such as .com or .org.au. There are rules governing different some TLDs – for instance, you can’t just use the .gov domain or any of its country variations if you are not a government organisation. However, you could register on of the newer TLDs such as .guru without having to demonstrate that you are actually a guru of any kind.
A website by many other names
Every domain name registered doesn’t necessarily need to have a unique website tied to it – you can have multiple domain names ‘parked’ on top of one website.
Key criteria for a domain names
The key criteria most people are looking for in domain names are:
- They match or align with the business name
- They are easy to remember and spell
- They aren’t already in use
However, there are some other aspects to consider when choosing the best possible domain name for your business website such as:
- Length – Moz.com suggests domain names are kept under 15 characters long. This not only makes them easier to remember and market, but reduces the chance of typos.
- Hyphens – It’s suggested that you avoid using domain names with hyphens, as they have traditionally been used on ‘spammy’ sites and are also hard for people to remember.
- Doesn’t spell anything inadvertent. Particularly when you put two words together, you can create unintentional consequences including these eyewatering examples from BoredPanda:
Dodgy Domain Names:
Who Represents =
Pen Island =
Experts Exchange =
Speed of Art =
North of Boston Jewish Singles =
Master Bait & Tackle =
Powergen Italia =
Les Bocages =
Keep it in the country?
In general, having a country code Top Level Domain such as .com.au can help you if you are targeting a particularly geographic market. They will generally rank higher in search results in that particular country as search engines read the ccTLDs as being relevant. They are also seen as more trusted and relevant by buyers. Some large multinationals like Coca Cola have multiple variations of their domain to include ccTLDs in every market they serve.
Of course, if your target market is international (for example, you are delivering an online product or service to a global market) you may find it more useful to have a generic TLD such as .com For example, videousermanuals.com is actually an Australian company who produce the WordPress Video User guides we include in the dashboard of all of our website. Rather than confining themselves to the Australian market, they have positioned themselves as a global provider to WordPress web designers – opening up much greater business opportunities for them.
Using keywords in a domain
It was once considered very important to include keywords in your domain e.g PerthWebsiteDesign. However with increased competition for keywords and changes in google’s search algorithms, it is now considered less important than other factors. Google has recently made several changes that has lowered the search engine page rank of sites with keyword-rich domains that aren’t otherwise high-quality (https://moz.com/learn/seo/domain). You may want to consider using keyword rich domain addresses in addition to the main address, and parking them on the main domain.
Handy Tools to help choose a domain name
If it all seems like an overwhelming job to find a domain name that ticks all the boxes, don’t despair. There are a number of specialised search engines tools available that take the guesswork out of finding available domain names. Some of them will also show which names have other assets (such as social media handles) available.
This list of domain name generators from the Shopify blog is a good place to start:
Who registers the domain?
When you finally find a domain name that suits, you can register it yourself or ask your web designer to do it on your behalf if they offer that service. The domain name re-seller market was deregulated a number of years ago, allowing re-sellers to offer domains at different prices. We tend to buy domains on Crazy Domains.
Do I need to sort out the hosting when I choose a domain name?
If you are still in the process of planning your website, look before you leap into choosing a hosting plan. This is something your web designer can advise you on and unlike domain names, the quality of hosting can be quite variable across providers.
Now that you know how to choose a domain name for your new website, you can start on the exciting process of writing a brief for your web designer!
Starting from scratch with your online journey?
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