One of the very first decisions you’ll make when you start a business or a blog is picking a name for the business. The second will be picking a domain name. This throws up some interesting issues, of course.
Even if your domain name is the same as your business name, you’ll have to make sure that it’s available (and it’s often not). You have to make sure that the name sounds good both with the “dot com” at the end and without. It’s also very important that the domain name be simple, easy to spell, and easy to remember.
If you’re in the market for a domain name, here are some good rules of thumb to remember as you make your pick.
Stick to .COM
Here’s the thing: If you’re opting for a .net or a .info, it’s likely that the .com is already taken. If so, the chances are that when you tell people your domain name — over the radio, for instance, or in person — they may remember the URL, but substitute the .net with the .com, landing instead on your competitor’s website.
If you’re a web-only business and only expect people to reach your site on clicking through, then a .net might work for you, but otherwise, it is always preferable to go for the .com. That said, other domains such as .co are definitely finding popularity, so keep that in mind.
The exception to this rule is if you’re appealing to a regional customer base. If your business market is strictly around the UK, for instance, a .co.uk domain will make sense for you.
Avoid hyphens in your domain name for the same reasons as you avoid .net or .info — most people will simply forget to put them in there. They also makes your URL harder to say, and therefore harder to recall. This is also why you should think twice about using numbers and symbols in your domain name, too, unless they’re an irrevocable part of your brand identity.
Think About Length
It seems intuitive that shorter domain names are better. After all, a short URL is usually easier to remember and therefore will have more visibility. Given how few short names there are available these days, bloggers and brands have no choice but to choose long ones — but that’s hardly optimal. Right?
Things aren’t really that black and white, however.
Short URLs can be difficult to remember, too; for instance, even though it’s short, a name like “directtraffic.com” can be confusing because of the two t’s together side by side. Meanwhile, longer domain names can also be beneficial in that they give you the option of having your keyword in the domain itself, which can be good for search.
We suggest that when you pick a domain name, you try and come up with not the shortest domain name, but the one that’s likely to be the least confusing. If you can get a meaningful and memorable short domain name, that’s the best of both worlds, but if not, there’s nothing wrong with a long one. Just make sure that it’s simple enough to avoid common misspellings and errors.
Check for Double Meanings
Back in the early days of the Internet, a website that lists agents and representatives of celebrities became a common joke (and warning) amongst writers. The website “Who Represents” has the domain www.whorepresents.com. You don’t have to look twice to see how the domain can be misconstrued in a way that’s not beneficial to the brand.