As you start planning and creating a website, it can be difficult to settle on the best domain name. It’s important not to rush into a name. By taking a few minutes to assess your best website name, you can get the edge over your small business competition. Below are the key factors you need to consider:
1. Your Domain Name Must Be Memorable
Your website name should not be too long, simply because it’s going to be harder to remember and harder to enter without making a mistake. It should also be reflective of your small business name. Opting to name your website waterleak.com when your business is named ‘Harry’s Plumbing’ doesn’t do anything for your brand.
Also, as a general rule it’s also best to stay away from acronyms. So if your business is ‘Pauls Gymnastic Sports Supplies’, naming your website pgss.com is neither memorable nor relevant.
2. Know What Your Customers are Searching For
Although the exact Google algorithm is a secret, it’s well known that Google strive to return the most relevant search results based on a user’s entry. As an example, let’s pretend there are three dentists with the websites: baysidedental.com, drcollins.com and baydentist.com
The Google Keyword Tool tells us that 1.5 million people search for ‘dentist’ each month and 135,000 people search for ‘dental’.
This means that the website baysidedentist.com has an edge over the other two website, as it contains a more popular keyword.
It’s important to know what your customer’s search behaviour. The best domain name will capitalise on this search behaviour. At a basic level, you can research the online market with the Google Keywords tool. Alternatively, you can get even more tailored industry information with Market Samurai (which has free traffic hunting software).
3. Should I Just Use my Brand Name?
My view is no. Ideally your brand name already contains your category (such as Bayside Dentist), however if that’s not the case it is worth adding your business category to your website name.
So, if you’re a plumber with the business name ‘Simpson & Son’, consider naming your website simpsonplumber.com or if you’re a florist named ‘Tall Poppy’, naming your website tallpoppyflorist.com should be considered.
4. Should I Register a .com or .net?
If you can, it is best to select a .com extension, simply because it’s the default option that customers assume. By adhering to familiarity, your customers are less likely to encounter errors when entering or finding your website. And who wants to construct another roadblock? As a small business owner your aim is to make the whole process as simple as possible.
5. Your Domain Country of Origin
In addition to registering a .com extension, you also have the option of identifying with a country such as .au for Australia, .uk for the United Kingdom or even .de for Germany. If you have a small business that primarily services customers in a particular country, it’s worth selecting a country identifier. This is a trust factor. Customers in that country see that you’re a local operator – which gives you an edge over other providers that aren’t.
It’s also generally thought that Google gives preference to website’s that are local in local search results.
6. Should I use Hyphens and Numbers?
You need to be careful with hyphens and numbers, simply because they can be difficult to explain in all mediums. The best domain name will offer no confusion. It wouldn’t matter if it’s written down or called out loud.
Problems arise when a website contains non-alphabetic characters or references to non-alphabetic characters. Suppose a business was named: Great 4 Lunch
If I heard a friend quote this name, I’d likely think its website address was: GreatForLunch.com, when the owner may have registered Great4Lunch.com
Hyphens are also dangerous. As a default, users know to run the words of a business together to form a website address. People know not to use hyphens. So why complicate the issue and start introducing them? Again, it’s a case of removing road blocks and working in harmony with standard user behaviour – not against it.
7. Avoid Common Misspellings
Do you have a name that’s commonly misspelt? It can get a bit tiresome having to correct the spelling each time, but at least you’re there in person to set the record straight. In the online environment you get no such luxury. If your website’s name features a misspelling of a common word, it can make it more difficult for users to find your website. Imagine users trying to search for ‘Fred’s Fast Flowers’, but failing to find it because the site name was actually ‘Fred’s Phast Flowers’. Again, reduce the road blocks and apply common sense.
Alternatively, if your small business name intentionally has playful spelling, think about also purchasing the domain with the correct spelling. By implementing a simple redirect, you get the best of both worlds.
8. Be Careful Not to Step on a Trademark
So you’ve just developed a great iPhone application or a time saving addition to Microsoft Word. Your excitement knows no bounds as you dream of cashing in on your idea. If you register a domain name which includes a registered trademark (such as iPhone or Microsoft) your dreams of endless customers will soon be replaced with legal letters. Do not register domain names that contain trademarked names. Trademarks are protected intellectual property.
9. Save Money With Your Domain Name Provider
You can save money by buying your domain name from the right provider. Buying a domain name is not expensive. The heated competition keeps prices to a minimum. Once you’re certain of your best domain name I recommend you checkout Godaddy. They offer a great deal on purchasing your domain name.
There’s plenty of useful information above to help you choose a great domain name.
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I have recently retired after 30 years consulting for corporate clients such as NAB, AXA, IOOF and AustralianSuper. My experience covers website design, social media and business strategies. I am now focussed on providing consulting services to small business.
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