Choosing the right domain name for your website is akin to picking the right name for your business. In fact, if you are forming a business, the domain name of your website can and should play a factor in that decision. Not only will your domain name be used to help people find you online, it will be tied to your email address for, hopefully, a very long time.
Needless to say, when deciding on a domain name for your business, it is important to choose wisely. Here are some things to remember when making this critical business decision.
Purchase the domain name yourself.
It might be tempting to allow a third party like a website developer or hosting company purchase your domain name. Why go to the hassle of figuring it out when you can pass the task off on someone else? Simply put, whoever buys the domain name controls it. Since domain names are leased from domain name registrars, anyone can buy any name. Don’t wake up one day to find your vendor didn’t pay the bill or decided they wanted the name for themselves and you are left with no website at all. Handle this one yourself.
Choose a permanent email address when registering.
When you do purchase your new business domain name, make sure the email address you use is something you plan on having for a while. Don’t let an employee use a personal or work address. If that person leaves your company, you will be forced to get their help making changes to your domain name in the future. The best option is a personal email address YOU control and intend to keep (Gmail, Outook or other is preferable). After the domain name is set up, switch it to a business address tied directly to the domain name. Not only will this handle reminders for renewing your domain name each year, but it will help you find lost passwords and user names.
Use a credit card for auto renewal.
It may be tempting to manually renew your domain name, opting to avoid having to keep a credit card on file with your registrar, but the first time you miss a renewal reminder and your domain name expires, you’ll wish you had stored the card instead.
Avoid using numbers and plural names.
Trying to explain your URL has a “3” as in the number, not the word “three” is tiring. Take it from someone who did it and regretted it. Numbers and plurals are complicated to explain and hard to remember. Whenever possible, don’t use them.
Be careful with double letters.
One of my clients years ago had a company called Direct Training. While directtraining.com was technically accurate, getting those two t’s in the middle was complicated for customers. Sometimes, it is unavoidable, but do what you can to keep from confusing anyone with your domain name including yourself and your staff.
When in doubt, buy multiple iterations of your name.
In the case of the above, my client purchased both names and pointed them both at the website. This is a good idea if your domain has a person’s name in it that can be spelled multiple ways (i.e. Jon and John). Common misspellings are also worth snatching up. While you always want to stick with one domain for your business cards, emails, etc., domain names are cheap and worth having when there is any possibility of confusion.
Pronunciation is important.
Even though most people are going to type your name out when finding you, the number of times you will tell people your website name over the life of your business will likely be staggering. Every time you give out your email address or direct a potential customer to your website, you’ll have to say the name and the easier it is for people to understand, the better. Say the name out loud before you buy it.
Don’t use dashes.
It might be tempting to divide multiple words in your domain name with dashes, but avoid the temptation. Again, anything you can do to keep your domain name as simple as possible, do it.
A long simple name is better than a short complicated one.
And on that subject, the full spelling of your company name in a domain is better than a short, complicated name. If your company is called Better Homes and Specialty Services of Houston, you might want to consider some kind of abbreviation or shorter iteration, but companies typically can use their whole name even if it is a tad long.
Branding is more important than keywords.
It might seem like a good idea to fill your domain name with keywords to make it more searchable in Google, but your company’s brand should always take precedence. Reinforcing your company name through the business domain name is infinitely better than trying to coax search engines, which probably won’t work anyway.