10 ways to choose a great domain name
Just about to register a domain name to put your fabulous website on? Read on, because getting your domain name right is important, and it's worth spending a little time making sure you've got the right domain. The right choice may not be the obvious one, and it may not be the one you think it is.
What makes a good domain name?
- Short - don't sacrifice clarity for a short name, but you want to print it on your business cards and promotional materials, and you want people to be able to read it quickly. Short is also easier to remember.
- Get the right extension - if you're going for NZ customers then a .co.nz is usually the right choice. If your target market is international then get a .com. If you're an NFP then .org.nz or .org is the right choice.
- Keep it simple - if there's a word in the name that's easy to misspell then consider something else - or register all the likely variations.
- Easy to say - you'll be spending a lot of time saying it to people, and, if you do it right, so will other people. Say it to some friends and family that don't already know the domain name you're thinking of and get them to write it down - did they get it right?
- Avoid hyphens and numbers - they make your site look like spam. Most people still don't expect hyphens in domain names and numbers look a little unprofessional. If you're concerned about how it will look written down, be aware that you can use mixed capitalisation in domain names to make them easier to read, and they will still take you to the same site. If you registered example.com you could refer to it as Example.com or eXample.com or even eXaMpLe.com and they would all lead to your site without you needing to register more domain names or needing to do any extra set up.
- Be careful with the combination of words and the alternative readings they can have.
Wait until you're not in the office and check out some domain names that could have used a little more thought.
- Decide if you want to use a keyword domain or a company name domain. A keyword domain will help your search engine ranking, a company name based domain will help with your branding. Usually, the right answer is a company name based domain as the small increase in traffic from search results isn't worth the reduction in brand recognition: just think of Amazon.com or Google.com. There's no keywords in their domain name, and would they be doing better with 'BuyBooksAndThingsOnline.com' or 'GreatSearchEngine.com'? No, they wouldn't.
- If you go for a keywords domain then Prepare for future growth. If you register 'WeOnlySellBedBases.com' then what happens when you expand into headboards or bedside tables? If you can keep it general enough to allow for growth then do.
- Avoid 'vanity domains' such as BobSmith.com. If your personal name is your company name then it may make sense to use it for your domain name but, if your business isn't established yet, consider using a word that contains your keywords or a company name instead. A company name or keyword domain gives you a great deal more freedom - once your company is worth millions and you're ready to sell, who are you going to sell it to if your name is the brand? Who do you trust with your name? Don't limit your options unless you have to.
- Consider the new Top Level Domains (TLDs) - would you rather have YourDomainName.shop or YourDomainName.sport? Or do you want several domain names & variations? You can also consider .nz instead of, or in addition to, .co.nz
Got a killer idea that fits the above criteria?
The next step is to run it through a few sites and see what they say.
These sites won't give you much direct information about .co.nz/.nz sites, but you can see who else around the world is using a similar domain name, and if your killer idea is already taken they will also give you synonyms and other ideas for alternative domain names.
- http://www.namestation.com/ - You need to sign up for a free account for this one.
- http://www.domainit.com/domain-suggest-tool.mhtml - Another idea generation tool
- http://www.dotomator.com/ - Another idea generation tool and a little different from the others. It's a little more specific in its suggestions and there's gold in there if you get your input right.
See what else your name has been up to:
- http://knowem.com/ - that will check a big spectrum of the internet to see where your proposed name is already in use.
Ready to register?
We recommend 1st Domains ( even though they have a number in their domain name ). We have always found their customer service very good, their interface is very easy to use and their prices are competitive. You may be able to save yourself $2 a year elsewhere, but it's just not worth it - that won't even buy you a coffee, but it might give you a big headache. Don't take unnecessary risks with your branding.
Want to talk it over?
We're happy to listen to your ideas, give you feedback and to help you make sure you get the right domain name for your business, your target market and where you want to go, just contact us today.