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7 things you need do when choosing a domain name

A good domain choice is vital to the success of your brand online. So no pressure, then?

7 things you need to do when choosing a domain name

Whether you’re starting a completely new business or taking an existing business online, you need to think carefully before registering your domain name. A good domain choice is vital to the success of your brand online. So no pressure, then?

Don’t worry. There are a few simple guidelines you can follow to ensure that your domain name properly represents your brand online and helps, not hinders, your SEO.

1. Keep it short and sweet and simple

A name that’s short, sweet and pronounceable is easy to say, easy to type and easy to share.

You may well have come up with something brilliant and clever, but if people are unclear on how to say it it’s really not very clever at all.  So you have to let that baby go. Stick with your brilliant and clever domain name and you may run the risk of misspellings or, worse perhaps, making your potential customers feel uncomfortable when speaking your name out loud.

Try the phone test. Tell somebody to write down your domain name over the phone by saying it to them without spelling it and see if they can get it OK. If they don’t get it first time then perhaps think of something easier.

2. Be original

Don’t infringe on another brand. Just don’t.

Not only do you not want to create any brand confusion out there on the web, but you might end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit. Do your research first and check for trademarks or copyrights. If someone is already using a name, even if it is in another sector in a completely different market, think of something else. You want to be unique. You can search UK trademarks here.

3. Make it memorable and brandable

If this is a new website for an existing business, go with your brand name. If it’s not available then you may have to be a bit creative with your name and the TLD (Top-level domain: .com, .co.uk, .net, .org etc. ), but more on that later.

If you’re starting from scratch make sure the name you choose is memorable and brandable. Your domain name should sound like a brand and not like a string of generic keywords e.g. cheapmortgageuk.com

Generic keywords are not memorable and unique and they won’t truly represent your brand online. This might’ve worked five years ago, but it simply won’t wash in 2017. Lean Domain Search can be useful for finding good names.

4. Don’t get too hung up on the keywords

You may have been advised to put important keywords in your name, so if you were, for example, a florist in Brighton you go for brightonflorist.com, right?

Yes, do use keywords, but only for the purposes of ‘doing what it says on the tin’ and not just because, keywords. Keyword targeted domain names don’t carry the same weight with Google as they used to. They could even have a negative effect.

The likes of Google have filters in place specifically designed to deter somebody like you or me buying a domain like cheapmortgage.com, setting up a website and then waiting for the business to come in once the website ranks in Google search for its name ‘cheap mortgage’

5. Make sure it does what is says on the tin

Having said all this, do pick a name that’ll make sense to your customers. People looking at it for the first time should have an idea of what it is that you do just from your name. You want them to be able to intuit your business proposition from your domain name.

6. Avoid text abbreviations and hyphens

Don’t do this unless you are someone like Toys ‘R’ Us – and I’m guessing you’re not or you wouldn’t be here. Your domain name should be something that is easy for people to type from hearing it. They shouldn’t have to ask is that whether a number is spelled out or uses numerals. Hyphens are similarly confusing.

The use of hyphens suggests that someone has already snaffled the name you wanted and can be considered spammy and unprofessional in 2017.

e.g. best-uk-fishing-website.co.uk which is committing not only the multiple-hyphen-sin but also the string-of-generic-keywords-sin.

7. Chose your TLD extension wisely

To .com or not to .com? That is the question.

Go for the .com if you can. It’s easy and it’s what people know. If you pick something else, a .co.uk for example, and end up down the line being super successful you’re going to want the .com in the end anyway.

You could get creative with your or TLD with a .pizza or a .ninja but tread carefully because, spam and, as mentioned before, if someone already has the .com they’ve had your idea before you.

Perhaps a wiser move would be to modify your name before getting whacky with your TLD extension. So, if you’re a tractor company called Whites you could register whitestractors.com

And finally, you should also remember to protect your business or personal brand by buying other domain extensions for your name and any common misspellings to ensure that your competitors don’t encroach on your domain name glory and that your customers can find you.

I hope you found this post useful but if you need some help choosing a domain name you can get in touch here and we’ll happy offer some advice. If you’re good to go with your chosen name click here to register your domain with SiteGround.

 

Sophie is co-founder and author of Website-Guide.co.uk. With nearly a decade's experience in WordPress and writing for the web she is pleased to share her knowledge to help others set-up their websites. If you need some help with this you'll find her at Bird on the Hill

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