How to Choose and Optimize Your Domain Name
Simply put, your domain name is your web address and deciding on what address to use can be challenging. If you’re an established business, your domain name was probably chosen quite some time ago. However, if you’re just starting out it is important that you consider several factors before settling on this important piece of the marketing puzzle. Follow these guidelines to set you (and your URL) up for success.
5 Steps to Setting Up a Domain Name
- KISS – Keep it short and simple
Domain names can be as long as 67 characters, but that doesn’t mean it should be. The shorter your URL, the easier it is for your audience to remember it. If your URL is too long, too difficult to spell or too hard to pronounce, you are doing yourself a disservice. Avoid words with multiple spellings. You have a great business. People want to tell their friends about it. Make it easy for them to do so.
2. Don’t Use Hyphens Or Dashes In Your URL
Yes, it is true that hyphens help search engines distinguish keywords. Yes, domain name optimization is important. However, you may be doing more harm than good. If your website is I-have-a-great-business.com and you want to run a radio ad, it will sound like this “Visit I dash have dash a dash great dash business dot com.” Confused? Me too. Don’t forget to consider word of mouth marketing. You want people to talk about your business. However, when a potential customer is typing in your URL heard by someone else, the hyphens are usually left out. You just lost website traffic and a potential new customer.
3. Do be sure to brainstorm.
Choosing your domain name requires both strategy and creativity. There are over 225 million registered domain names, so it’s possible that the perfect URL you just thought of is already taken. Have a backup. And a backup to the backup. Ask your friends. Involve them in the brainstorming. Remember, when brainstorming, there are no dumb ideas. Throw some ideas around and see what sticks.
4. Don’t Copy Another URL.
I’ll say it again. Do not copy another URL. Make sure to check copyright.gov before settling on any domain name. Better safe than sorry. Starting a new business is hard enough without being sued for copyright or trademark infringement.
5. When in Doubt, Use .COM
There are of course instances in which another extension may be appropriate (.net, .biz), but a .COM is typically the way to go. For the casual internet user, this may the only extension they are familiar with. Additionally, businesses with other extensions are typically perceived as having less value by the average consumer.
Remember – these are just guidelines for choosing a new domain name. As with all guidelines, there are always exceptions, but I consider these to be domain name best practices. Don’t forget to be strategic, rational and creative. This is an important step in the branding of your business. I will discuss domain name optimization in later post.