How To Pick A Kickass Domain Name
Don’t be fooled; a bad domain name can hurt your business. Whether you picked a name that doesn’t fit or you didn’t realize that certain letters don’t play well next to one another, you may find yourself in a world of trouble if you don’t take the time to give domain name selection some thought beforehand. Savvy marketers know to go with simple domain names that not only describe what they do, but that also help them to stand out.
Here’s a quick list of factors to keep in mind when selecting a domain name for your business.
Decide What You’re About: Unless you have thousands of dollars lined up to explain to the Web what your domain name means, you want to pick a domain name that reflects what you do. Google and Yahoo and eBay had budgets at their disposal. You’d probably rather keep that money for yourself. Succinct and witty are nice, but not at the detriment to clarity. Visitors should be able to determine exactly what kind of site you are just by looking at your URL in the SERPs. If they’re confused and not sure you’ll meet their needs, why would they click through? And how are you helping them to associate your URL with their needs? You’re not. Branding Fail.
Know Who You Are, Then Be Broad: You sell cupcakes and are ecstatic to find that OnlyCupcakes.com is available (it’s not, don’t look). This may be a good match for you right now, but what about in five years when you decide to expand your business to include cakes, cookies and croissants? You may suddenly find yourself struggling to show relevancy. When picking a domain name, make sure you leave yourself a little wiggle room.
Use Keywords When Possible: Fitting your site’s keywords into your domain is always a nice mini boost if you can do it. If you can’t, don’t lose sleep over it. Never pick an irrelevant or awkward domain name just because you think it’s “sexy” or you can squeeze in a word. Similar to going after keywords that don’t provide conversions, it’s not going to help you in the long run.
Be Memorable: A good domain is one that helps brand you above your competition. It should be unique, easy to type, easy to remember, and give visitors something in which to associate your Web site. Whatever domain you choose will forever affect how visitors perceive and value your company, so spend some time thinking about how you want to be remembered.
Keep It Simple: Part of being memorable means selecting a domain name that is as uncomplicated as possible. Tutushawaiianicecreamshack.com is not a good domain name, I don’t care how exact it matches what you do. No one is going to remember that and they’re certainly not going to be able to type it into their address bar or easily name drop it in conversation. Tutu’s, I don’t care how scrumptious your snow cones are, your domain name is a total fail. Redirect that monster.
Think Long-term: Chances are you’re going to be stuck with whatever site you’re creating for a good chunk of time. So when you pick a domain name, make sure it will stand the test of time and that you’ll still love it three years from now. The Web 2.0 craze of dropping letters will soon look as cool as all those companies dumb enough to put “Millennium” or “2000″ into their company names. Remember, this too shall pass. However, you want your company to stick.
Consider How It Looks: Your domain name should be visually appealing. Doubling up on letters in domains like marccupcakes.com can be confusing for visitors trying to parse it. You also want to be aware of how your words will look when smooshed together. MensExchange.com may sound like a good idea, but try typing that in all lowercase letters and see what you get. Forget what visitors will think, you may also run into trouble when the search engines filter you for being an adult Web site.
Don’t Copy Someone Else: Imagine how annoyed you’d be if someone infringed upon your totally unique and successful domain name by creating one that looked exactly like it. Yes, now imagine how fast you’d sue them and make them take it down. See why copyright infringement isn’t a good idea? Seriously, if you decide to go this route it may cost you your entire business, so don’t do it. Before you finalize your domain, do some research to make sure that no one else has it and that you’re not going to be violating any trademarks.
The Extension Collection: If you’re launching a commercial site, it’s really important that you snatch up the major extensions. You don’t want to take YumYumScoreCupcakes.com and YumYumScoreCupcakes.org only to let someone else pick up the .net and .uk. It’s a reputation management crisis waiting to happen. Don’t let it.
You can find more information about selecting and selling a domain on the Bruce Clay, Inc. site.
[Worth nothing that many of these rules can also be applied to selecting a name for your daughter.]