Before you embark on choosing an address for your website, it is worthy to note that choosing a Search engine friendly names gives you a good impetus to achieve success online. Search engines love keyword rich domain, as this is considered as having a degree of relevancy. Your WebPages will rank remarkably well when you focus on choosing a domain that targets keywords for your core business. Making a friendly website address choice will help you in attracting targeted audience to your website, thereby increasing your conversation rate leading to more sales for your online business.
Consider the following simple steps that you can follow to have a good friendly domain for your online business:
1. Your Website Name Should Be The Same As Your Domain
Naming your website after your domain may sound obvious to some people, but majority of sites are NOT named after their domain names.
I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to name your site after your domain name, for the simple reason that when your audience think of your website, they’ll think of it by name. If your website name is also your URL, they’ll automatically know what to type into the browser to get to your website. For example, when people think of IBM they don’t have to wonder what URL to type into their browser to get to IBM site. In this example, the name of the site is also the URL.
Let’s assume your business or website is called “HP”, but unfortunately someone else has registered the domain. As a result of this, you have a different domain called, “yourbusiness.com”. What happens when your customers, recalling that HP has a product they want to buy, and obviously type hp’s website. They’ll end up at your competitor’s website. This situation will mean lost sale for you and a win for your competitor.
With the fast changing pace of the world of the Internet, where consumers, academics and researchers automatically turn to the Web for information, it pays to have a domain name that reflects your site or business. It is unrealistic to expect your potential customers to memorise an unrelated URL just because you think they should? Make it easier for them to find you and do business with you repeatedly, thereby leading to total brand loyalty.
What if you cannot get the address of your choice? How committed are you to your brand name and this particular name? If you already have an existing brand name that you’re known with, you’ll probably not want to throw away that name just because you couldn’t get the domain. It takes a lot of time and money to build and establish a brand. Therefore, you might simply want to try to buy over the domain name from the current owner. How do you find who owns this domain? You will need to search the global “whois” information database for the domain, and contact that person listed to see if they’re willing to sell that to you. You can search the “whois” database to get the details.. The current owner may likely want to sell this name to you at a much higher price that you you’ll normally pay when buying a new domain. The first step is to establish if the current owner is ready to sell.
You may prefer the cheaper option if you are just starting out, try to obtain a domain first, and then name your website or business afterwards. So if you’ve acquired the name “vintagecars.com”, then your website and business might be named “Vintage Cars” or “vintagecars.com”. This is the obvious route to take if you want to keep your costs to a bare minimum.
2. Better Domain: Brand Specific or Generic?
What I would recommend here is to purchase both. Every online project is different. You could build your website on the generic domain and redirect the brand name to the generic domain. Doing this way, you could get the extra benefit of link building using a keyword based name but also have the option of including the branded domain name in your advertising, radio, newspaper, magazine etc. Also the other benefit is also having the ability to sell the website in the future.
If you are a corporate organisation, you’d usually want to go with the branded domain as you will be around for a long time. If your project is an affiliate site, I’ll recommend you go with the generic name, as usually after a while you might get bored with the project and may to sell it and move on to something new. The best strategy here is to try as much as possible to stick with the branded domain.
This reason, I personally feel a domain that matches your brand name is very important. The very name that you use to advertise your product is the name that you will want for your website, because that is the first thing that people will try in their browser when they want to visit your website. It is also easier for them to remember, and whatever that is easily remembered, will be more likely to be tried out than the obscure domain name.
3. Extended Registration Period
The question here is, should you register or renew your domain name for a long period of time? And if so, for how long? If you want to stay ahead of your competition, then you might consider for how long your competitors have registered their domains. If your competitors have generally registered or renewed their domains for one or two years, you might consider registering your domain name for 5 or 10 years. The expiration date and age of your domain might help your search engine rankings, because search engines use age to determine credibility and genuineness of the business as a whole. Newer domain names with shorter expiration date are sometimes classed as spam sites by search engines. Although in search engines terms this may be only a small victory, but it is a worthwhile effort.
It certainly makes good business sense to register an address for at least 5 years and 10 years maximum. You don’t want to deal with the cumbersome process of annual domain renewal. It’s best to obtain the domain that you want to keep for a while and renew them on a 5 to 10 year plan.
If your domain expires it gets released into the public domain, and there’s a good chance that someone will register your domain immediately after it expires. If, for whatever reason, you failed to renew your domain, someone monitoring a ‘watch list’ of expiring domains will try to capitalize on the success of your online business that you’ve built over the years. When this happens, all the traffic you have built over the years with this domain is lost to someone, and many years of hard work has gone down the drain. By renewing your domain name for several years, your domain name won’t expire for a while, and it won’t be available to expired domain name buyers.
It is worth noting as well that, you can lose your position in the search engines if you failed to re-register your domain in time. You may have to start the Search engine optimisation process all over again, which will be a painful and expensive process for you.
4. Domain Name Length: Long or Short?
Domain names can as long as maximum of 67 characters. Don’t go with an obscure domain name like abs.com when what you really mean is AutomatedBreakingSystems.com. Considering this point, there appears to some argument from different professional angle whether a long or short domain name is better
Whichever way you look at it, shorter is better because people will remember that easily, as opposed to a long domain name that is difficult to remember and certainly prone to spelling mistakes when typed into the browser.
More arguments stack up in favour of shorter domain names because they are easier to remember, easier to type and far less susceptible to mistakes: for example, “bt.com” is easier to remember and less prone to typos than “britishtelecommunication.com”.
Some of the arguments in favour of shorter domain names are purely academic. It is increasingly difficult to get short meaningful domain names. If you manage to get a short domain name, the advice is to make sure it is a meaningful combination of characters and not the obscure version.
Long domain names that have your site keywords in them also have an advantage in that they perform better in a number of search engines. The latter give preference to keywords that are also found in your domain names. So, for example, if you have a site on free PHP scripts with a domain name like freehypertextpreprocessorscripts.com, it might fare better in a search for “free PHP scripts” than a site, freescripts.com.
So, which would you go for? I’d personally go for the shorter name if I can get a meaningful one, but I’m not disinclining to longer names. However, I would probably avoid extremely long names verging on 67 characters mark. Apart from the obvious problem that people might not be able to remember such a long name, it would also be an arduous task typing it and trying to fit it as a title on your web page.
5. Hyphenated Domain NamesShould you get a hyphenated domain name? Consider the following pros and cons:
- Disadvantage: One notable fact is that it’s easy to forget the hyphens when typing a name in a browser. Many users are used to typing things like freehypertextpreprocessorscripts.com but not free-hypertext-preprocessor-scripts.com. They’ll probably leave out the hyphens and end up at your competitor’s website.
- Disadvantage: When people recommend your site to their friends and business associates verbally, having hyphens in your domain name leads to more potential errors than when the name does not contain hyphens at all. For example, how do you think your visitors will refer to your site if it is named “free-hypertext-preprocessor-scripts.com “?
- Disadvantage: It’s more demanding and cumbersome to type. That’s it. * Advantage: Search engines can distinguish your keywords better and thus return your site more prominently in search results for those keywords occurring uniquely in your domain name.
- Advantage: The more reason is that the non-hyphenated variant of the domain may no longer be available. At least this way, you still get the domain name you want.
Personally, I prefer to avoid hyphenated names if I can, but I guess it really depends on the domain name you are after, and your project and business situation.
6. Use of Plurals In most cases
If you can’t get the domain name you want to register, the domain name registrar will suggest variants of the name you typed. For example, if you wanted scripts.com, and it was already taken, it might suggest other variants like:
The question here is, should you go with the suggested variants?
My personal opinion is that if you take the suggested variants of the domain name, you must always remember to promote your site(s) with the full variant of the name. Otherwise, people are likely to forget to affix the necessary “the” or “my“.
7. Which Extension?.COM,.ORG,.NET
One common question I always encounter is from people who can’t get the “.com” domain of their choice, but find the “.net”, “.org” or other country-specific top level domains (TLDs) available (like.uk,.in,.fr,.ir etc). Should you go with the country specific top level domain?
The answer is not as clear cut as you might think. If your website or business caters for the local community, such as a curry delivery business or dancing club or the like, then it makes business sense to get a country-specific domain. You actually benefit from having such a local domain because the people in your country know that they’re dealing with a local entity, which is what they want. It is also beneficial for highly targeted traffic in terms of your search engine campaign effort. After all, if they stay in (say) the United Kingdom, they’re not likely to want to try to order curry from currydelivery.com, which may appear like a US or an international site. You’ll have better luck calling it currydelivery.co.uk, i.e., with a UK domain, which immediately reassures people that they are dealing with a local business.
The predicament is what if your site or business can benefit from an international audience? There are many arguments from different schools of thought on this. I’ll mention a few common ones here.
The first school of thought argues that it is better to have a domain name of your choice “myidealdomain” even if it has a TLD of “.net”, “.org” or some other country specific extension, than to end up choosing an obscure domain name for the simple reason you can’t get your preferred choice of domain name. Thus people would settle for domain names like “myidealdomain.fr”, “myidealdomain.net” or myidealdomain.org. The contrary argument is that if you get a country specific domain, people might think that your business only caters for that country.
Another school of thought argues that “.net” and “.org” extensions are actually quite acceptable forms of domain names. For some, the “.org” extension actually describes the non-profit nature of their organisation. So, for example, the famous Cancer Research UK can be found at http://www.cancerresearchuk.org.
Others for obvious reasons will settle for nothing less than the “.com” extension. To further bolster their grounds, people on the site of this argument have cited specifically the browser algorithms used to locate a website when a user simply types a name like “ibm” into the browser. In fact, the browser searches for a domain name “ibm.com” before attempting “ibm.net”, etc. As such, surfers who browse in this way will be delivered to your competitor’s site if you do not also own the “.com” extension. Undeniably, even if people do not rely on their browser to complete their typing, many simply assume a “.com” extension when they type a domain name into the browser, so if your business is “IBM”, they’ll just assume your domain name is “ibm.com” rather than “may be ibm.net” or some other country specific extensions.
As you can see, there are actually good grounds for paying attention to the arguments from these schools of thoughts. My personal take on to the above arguments is that if you get a domain name with an extension other than “.com”, make sure that you promote your business or website with the full domain name. For example, if your domain name is “petfoodstore.net”, make sure that when you advertise your site or business; you should call it “petfoodstore.net” and not just “petfoodstore”. Otherwise people will always assume a “.com” extension and will end up on your competitor’s website.
Let me further emphasise the key points of this article – get your domain name before you start your site or business.
Don’t make the mistake of attempting to adapt your domain name to your business or website. Most of domains did not originally start out the same as my business name, and I encountered a huge loss of traffic and business as a result of URL changes in future. Don’t make the same mistake.