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Domain names

5 questions to ask when choosing a domain name

April 14, 2009

Jean

When you launch a website, you must not underestimate the power of the domain name you choose. It is easier to keep a visitor than to attract new ones. With a complicated domain name, your visitors will find it difficult to remember your website address and will not be able to relay it.

Here are the 5 questions to ask yourself before choosing your domain name.

1. Keywords or brand?

The domain name itself is one of the many criteria taken into account by search engines to rank websites in result pages. Type "real estate" in Google: amongst the first natural results (those that have the most value), there are many websites which domain names contain the words "real" and "estate". The same applies for other expression such as "restaurant" or "garage". Choosing a domain name containing key words is therefore an efficient way to quickly attract traffic.

Relying on a brand name is however not penalizing. Amongst the names of 100 the most visited websites (see Alexa top sites), most of them are brands: Google, Yahoo!, YouTube, Facebook, Ebay... While a brand offers true credibility, creating it and getting it known is a slow and costly process.

If keyword based domain names come out well in search engines, they do not necessarily reflect a good image, like companies which names start with AAA in the printed directory.

Our recommendation is to rely on your brand name

2. Is the .com version available?

Ideally it is best to have the .com or failing that the .net, or even the .org. The other extensions (.biz, .tv) are to be avoided. Only the websites with .com, .net or .org (and the extensions linked to countries) reflect a serious image.

If your brand is not available in .com, .net or .org change brands (seriously)

3. Can your domain name be spelt easily?

Double consonants, dashes, or other ambiguities (singular or plural) are penalising. Do not forget that others can talk about your website. Lapadd (a customer of UGAL) told us about the problematic that the 2 D in its name arose, in particular when the brand was named on the radio.

Spelling www.2xlessexpensive.com comes down to saying "number two - letter x- and less expensive all attached dot com". Could be simpler, don't you think?

4. Is your domain name short enough ?

Including several key words in your domain name is tempting. But imagine yourself giving out your website address to someone on the phone www.keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.com; it's not easy. A short name has a true value (besides it's been ages since there hasn't been any 4 letter (or less) domain names available in .com)

The shorter your domain name, the easier it will be to remember it, write it, print it on a business card or make a legible logo out of it.

5. What future for your business?

When you create a website, it is likely to be for a long time. While aiming for a single keyword based domain name is probably a good short term solution, it can pose problems should you decide to diversify your business offering.

The www.wrought-iron-furniture.com website will find it rather difficult to sell anything else than wrought iron on an English-speaking market.

Of interest:

  • Aaron Goldman gives interesting analysis of domain names on his Good URL bad URL blog. "Good cause by bad domain name" was his verdict for the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website available at www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
  • Looking for a domain name? Click on to www.instantdomainsearch.com, it is by far the easiest way to find if the domain name of your dreams is available.

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