For those serious in Internet Marketing, how to choosing a Domain Name is a very important step. It needs to be considered in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and in relation to the content your website or blog will be focusing on. The shorter the Domain Name the better. Consider the following points when choosing a Domain:
Domain Name and Website
Many people choose a Domain Name for their email address or website. Choosing to use your business name, your own name or brand named is a good idea when considering what to call your website. This make is easy for people to remember the URL of your website. For example my name is John Vorstermans and I used the Domain Name JohnVorstermans.com for my Internet Marketing website as that is the name people know me by. I also have a blog which is at John.Vorstermans.co.nz. Actually, using my own name may not work 100% as people do have difficulty spelling my last name but you get the idea.
If you choose not to use your name or your company name is already taken by someone else, then consider a name which describes what your website is all about. If you have a business called Harrods Organics and you wanted to register harronds.com then you will find it has already be taken by the famous Harrods Store brand. However you could try for harrodsorganics.com, which is actually a better match for what you want anyway. Of course keep in the back of your mind that if the famous Harrods store sells organic products they may challenge you with the name harrodsorganics.com but you can always fight their challenge. :-) The point is to chose a Domain Name that fits in with the content of your website.
As people tend to use search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo to find the information they want these days, rather than the old phone book, it does matters what Domain Name you choose. For example to find the above example website some one might enter into the Search engine “Harrods Organics” and with a bit of good planning and design your website would pop up in the first page of sites presented by the Search engine. Part of why this might happens is associated with the name you choose for your website (Your Domain Name).
So what if the Domain Name you want is not longer available? This is quite possible, as most of the common names have been taken by the 2 billion odd Internet users. If you have an existing brand and the name has already been taken you might have to get a bit creative.
Harrodsorganics.com actually appears to still be available but if it was not then you might look at other options like harrods-organics.com or instead of using .com you could look at .biz or some of the others options available to you. If you are in the US then you could also use .us or .uk for the United Kingdom.
You could also find out who has register the current Domain Name by doing what is called a “whois” lookup, which will tell you who the contact person of the domain is. Perhaps they will be interested in selling it to you. You might have to pay a high price for it however.
If you are starting a new business then perhaps you could look for the Domain Name first. Find something that describes your business that is still available.
Generic Or Brand Name Domains
Some people think that domain names should be generic like "cars.com" if you are looking for cars for example. These type of generic names are sold for a fortune but are not really that useful anymore anyway. If you were going to look for a car then you would be more specific in your search and use the brand as part of the search term. So you might look for honda.com, generalmotors.com or toyota.com, which would get you a closer match to what you are looking for.
So you can see why a domain name that matches your brand is so important. The key here is to think of what people would type into the search engine to try and find you? What is easy to remember?
Long or Short Domain Names
Obviously the shorter the Domain Name the easier it is to remember but you can choose anything up to 67 characters. Domain Names are not case sensitive so it makes no difference if you type them in upper or lower case letters. For my Domain I could write johnvorstermans.com but I usually advertise it as JohnVorstermans.com. Can you see the difference? It is much easier to see the meaning of the two words in my Domain Name when you write it with the two capital letters. You could take this to the extreme with something like HarrodsOrganicFruitsCalifornia.com. It is quite readable and search engines also see the words separately. Who needs spaces these days!
So what is better, longer or sorter Domain Names? Well there is not real ruling on this except that perhaps we can remember shorter names better and are less likely to miss spell the word if it was a long one. Some say that longer names are easier to remember and are even better than using acronyms for Domain Names. In the end it is an individual choice, perhaps influenced somewhat by the culture of the business market that you are in.
One advantage of have a long Domain Name is that you can include some of the important keywords for your site in the name which the search engines love and will rank your site better for. For example I could use InternetMarketingJohnVorstermans.com which will emphasis that my website has something to do with Internet Marketing, or better still I could have chosen InternetMarketing4HomeBusinesses.com or InternetMarketingForHomeBusinesses.com and another variant might be Internet-Marketing-For-Home-Businesses.com.
Personally I like shorter ones and after that I would go for descriptive names that contain the keywords for the business I am involved in. Memorising the domain name is not so important to me as most people are going to find me through search engines or links anyway.
Using Hyphenated Domain Names
Are hyphenated Domain Names a good thing or not? Here are a few things to consider:
- It is easier for search engines to distinguish the words in your domain name so there might be some advantage here.
- If the none-hyphenated form is no longer available then using a hyphen gives you another choice when it comes to choosing your Domain Name.
- You don’t see hyphenated domain names so often and therefore if someone had to type it out they might forget the hyphen and end up on a competitors website.
- When spelling out your domain name to someone and having to mention, “hyphen” at the end of every word can get confusing for the person hearing or writing it down.
- It is tricky to type at the best of times.
Pre and Post Addition To A Domain Name
Often when searching for a Domain Name at a registration site, and when the name is no longer available, the site will come up with a list of alternative for you to consider. So if you were looking for business.com it might well suggest something like:
and many more options. Are these useful and should you take them?
They are useful if they contain the keywords you are looking for. I think the important thing is to use what you feel makes sense when you are talking about these pre and post additions to the domain name.
Often the choices you are given do not make any sense at all and in these cases I tend to avoid them as I like my Domain Name to be easily readable (with the use of capitals when possible).
Top Level Domain Names
One question that is often asked is with regards to what to do if it is not possible to get the ".com" domain, but find the .biz, .org, .net or other country-specific top-level domains (TLDs) are available such as for example (like .uk, .nz, .us, etc). Should these be used?
Once again you need to consider your market. If you were a local business that does not offer a global server then you would indeed be better of with a local top-level domain like .uk or .us. It makes real sense and also increases your ranking in regional search engines if your website is also hosted in the country where that TLD is located.
However if you are looking for an international market then I would suggest you look at a TLD using one of the may now available such as .biz, .info, etc.
Of course many business can benefit from a global audience and therefore it is good to have a global TLD to use and in the end I don’t think it makes a great difference if it is not a .com anymore. It distinguishes your site from a country-specific TLD which most people would consider only serving the local geography.
The main points to consider are:
Don’t try to force a domain name to fit your business. You may need to think of the bigger picture and get some advice here, as you cannot afford to get this part of your brand wrong.
Get a Domain Name that makes sense, is keyword rich and therefore SEO rich if you are planning on doing any Internet Marketing… and who isn’t these days.