A domain name is essential to marketing online. But how to you select a good name?
First, in almost all cases, you will want to choose the .com name. There are three reasons for this. A) some browsers will automatically put in the .com if the person types a domain without the extension. B) many people put in the .com unconsciously, so if you choose a different extension, you will be sending traffic to someone else’s site. C) Some experts argue that the .com has a slight search engine benefit.
There are some exceptions, the main one being if you are doing business in another country and you primarily sell to people in that country, then you will likely want to choose that country’s extension. For example, in the United Kingdom, the extension is .co.uk. In Australia, it’s com.au, and so forth.
Now why are people sometimes tempted to use something other than the .com? Well the reason is that many of the good .com names are taken, and so people look at the .net, .org, or other extension. While that might be acceptable for an informational type site or if you’re not a commercial enterprise, for your company’s main web site you should go with the .com.
The second factor in choosing a domain name is you want it to be easy to spell. In other words, you will want to avoid words which have multiple ways of spelling, or are easily confused with other words. Examples of these words would include the word, “to”. Is the word “t-o”, “t-o-o”, or “t-w-o”? If someone types in your domain name but gets even one character wrong, the traffic will not go to your site and may even end up at another person’s site. So you can see that selecting a name with easy to spell words is a must.
The third factor in choosing a domain name is you want it to be easy to say over the phone. If you’re talking with someone on the phone, or you have a radio ad, or a recorded interview and you mention your domain name, the person will have to write it down or remember it later if they are going to visit your site. Therefore, easy to spell words are important, as I just mentioned, but also consider things like having words that end in the same letter that the next word begins with, like SamsSports.com. This can be confusing for the end user, is there one “s” after “Sam” or two? Also avoid the use of dashes for the same reason. It’s difficult to convey to someone unless in print.
The fourth factor, and this is a little harder to get a handle on, is the domain should be memorable. If you can include some alliteration, anything to make is stand out, it will be to your advantage. A great example is Ralph Wilson’s site WilsonWeb.com.
And that is also why domain names that are too long can be a mistake; they are simply too hard to remember…. particularly those with several words.
There you have it: four rules for selecting a good domain name.
I should add that there are some exceptions to these rules… basically applicable if you get all of your traffic from search engine traffic or pay-per-click.
On the other hand, if you are trying to brand your website at all, the four rules listed above will help you narrow down the possibilities when selecting a domain name.
After all, you want your domain to give you credibility and make it as easy as possible for people to find your website and not reach your competitor’s website by mistake.