Tips On Selecting A Domain Name
You know that choosing the perfect domain name for your website is crucial. You don't want to end up registering something that reflects poorly upon your company although it seems innocent enough at the time (see our list of horrible domain names for some examples), or something that is hard for customers to remember.
Here are some tips for you so that when you register your domain name with your web hosting company upon setting up your shared hosting or dedicated server account, you won't regret your decision in the future.
Domain Name = Website Name
If at all possible, try to match your domain name with that of your website. It seems obvious, but there are actually plenty of sites out there that don't get this. The webmaster might own that domain name, but for some reason, the site is not named after the website in the end.
This allows people to simply type the name of your website into the address bar to pay your site a visit. It provides users with a foolproof way to find their way without having to Google it or search for your business card. They like that!
My Desired Domain Is Taken. Now What?
The first question you need to ask yourself: am I committed to this brand? If you are well-known already, you would be foolish to re-brand because the desired domain name isn't available. The time and money you've spent to make your brand reputable shouldn't be wasted because of it.
If you simply cannot re-brand your company, you can always obtain the whois information for the domain you want. Contact the person, and see if they would consider selling it. Be aware, however, that they might sell it for a bit more than you would expect, especially after finding out you want to get your hands on it. Also, prepare yourself for the event they do not want to sell it at all.
If you are a startup who isn't really well-known at all, you might approach things a bit backwards: obtain a domain, and name your brand after that domain. This is the best way to assure you get the name you are looking for, and that visitors associate that website with your brand without question.
The Generic vs. Brand Debate
There are those that feel a domain name, to make it even simpler for the masses, should be some form of generic name. For example, you sell cloth diapers and diaper covers and choose the domain “diapers .com.” Is this really effective and smart?
Yes, and no. Maybe it will work for your diaper business if the person entering the domain into the address bar has no idea of names of diaper brands. But what if you are selling cars? Most people have some idea of what they are looking for, and will type things such as “ford .com” or “volkswagon .com” into their browser rather then “cars .com.”
This is why a domain name to reflect your brand name is the best option, especially if you expect to be well-known and reputable. A person will be more likely to type your brand into the address bar rather than some generic word.
Long vs. Short
Did you know a domain name can be up to 67 characters long? This is great, as you can go with a name like “TheWidgetAndMoreSuperStore .com” rather than “twamss .com.”
Although short domain names are a plus (they're easier to remember, and less likely to be mis-typed in the address bar), they're hard to come by. Unless the abbreviated form of your domain name is well-known, it might be tough to shorten it without having some confusing jumble of letters that no one will likely remember.
Opt for a longer domain if you just can't obtain the shorter one you're looking for, and if you can, include some of your site's keywords for SEO purposes. Whatever you do, don't use all 67 characters (but that should be a given.) And if you can avoid it, stay away from hyphenated domain names.
I hope these tips help you in choosing your domain name. This is something your web hosting company can help you with before you sign up for that dedicated server or shared hosting account.