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How To Choose A Domain Name
Throughout my career, I have found and registered a countless number of domain names for companies all over the world.
I have found that a good, proper domain is key to attracting business, generating income, and having an SEO that will pop off of Google’s main page and bring you a slew of returning clients.
But you cannot pick just any odd random domain name for the website you’ve built. The key to making your domain strong is making sure you are choosing the right one. Over the years, I have compiled a list of important tips to keep in mind when you are attempting to register the right domain for you, your business, and your future.
1. Remember, You Don’t Own Your Domain Name
You always need to remember that you are actually registering a domain name, you’re not buying it. The truth is that no one actually owns a domain name in the way that you might actually own a car or a house.
Instead, you are paying for a service from the domain register service. So while the domain name you choose might represent your business’s site, it will never truly be yours and only yours.
2. Your Domain Name Doesn’t Have To Match Your Company’s Name
It is important to always remember that the domain name you choose does not necessarily have to be the exact same as the company’s name. There are in fact plenty of businesses who find great success with website names that don’t perfectly align with their business’s official title.
Now, if you are running a local business, then it makes perfect sense for you to register a domain name that matches your company’s name. It helps your brand and it also makes it easier for customers. But that doesn’t have to always be the case, especially if you are running an online-only business.
3. Should You Use Keywords?
You may hear about businesses looking to use keywords in their domain. On the surface, that sounds like a good idea, but is it really necessary?
A specific keyword in your site’s domain will inform potential clients and customers that the keywords are related to your business’s speciality.
Some people believe that keywords in domains can help with the ranking on search engines and can boost SEO. That may be true but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
A keyword will certainly inform your potential customers of your area of expertise, and that’s good, but they aren’t the end-all, be-all.
4. Keep Your Domains Short
Some people get carried away with the length of their domains, and that always ends up being exhausting for customers.
Who likes to write long, drawn-out domains into their web browsers? No one.
Ideally, you will keep your domain name no longer than three words. Try to be succinct, try to sum up your business, try to make the domain easy to spell and remember.
Think of a domain as a business card. You don’t want to hand someone a cluttered, confusing business card. You want it to be easy to comprehend and to the point.
5. Domains Should Convey Meaning
Your domain name should convey a meaning to customers if you wish to make an impact and leave an impression.
When choosing your domain name, try to think about the qualities and characteristics you want to relay to your new clientele. Write down the feelings that you want your customers to experience.
These are just a few of the adjectives you want people to associate with your business, so you would be wise to include them in your new domain name.
You might also want your business to be associated with a place, so you can put those places in your domain.
When you add these words and their meanings into your domain, you will strengthen the relationship between them and your business.
6. Avoid Hyphens
Many businesses think it is smart to use hyphens in their domains.
I am here to tell you that it is not smart to do that. Over the years, the practice of using hyphens in domains has grown to feel sketchy and spammy and obnoxious. It is best avoided at all costs.
Plus, hyphens in your domain doesn’t help your ranking in SEO, so it really serves no purpose at all.
7. Consider Domain Variants
You should attempt to register as many domain variants as you can when you are setting up your business.
This makes perfect sense: if someone is trying to remember your domain, their memory may play tricks on them. They might use a plural instead of singular, for instance. But if you have registered any and all variants that could be used, you and your company will be in luck.
If you have multiple variants registered, they will all guide a customer back to your regular site and that’s really all that matters in the end.
8. Defensive Domain Registration
If you are being smart, you will make sure that you do something called defensive domain registration. What this means is that you are essentially covering your bases and ensuring that an opposing business will not be able to register a domain that hurts your business in the future.
Don’t just settle for .com. Instead, register .org, .info, .us, .uk, and beyond. Think of any possible variant of your site and any similar domains, and be pre-emptive and register them before someone else can.
If you don’t do this, a competitor can register the domain in the future, and you will have to hire a lawyer and go through a long, drawn-out legal process to get the domains. That is a huge headache that you can avoid if you are just ahead of the ball and proactive in the beginning.
Plus, you may never know when you need a different version of your site. If your main .com website is under construction, you’ll be able to rely on the .net version you bought.
9. What if Dot Com Is Taken?
Almost everyone associated the web with .com. That’s the most common type of site on the internet.
But what if dot com is taken when you are registering your domain? Are you out of options? Not exactly. But if you have found that someone else is using the dot com version of your domain, then you should probably try to find a new domain to use.
Site visitors rarely think outside of the box. They almost always assume a website ends with dot com. If you can’t get a hold of your dot com, perhaps it is time to come up with a different domain to pursue.
10. Country Code Top Level Domain
No one would blame you if you haven’t heard of country code top-level domains, also known as ccTLDs. They are domains specific to a certain country.
Unsurprisingly, site visitors don’t really want to use ccTLDs that don’t correlate to their countries. If you live in Australia, you should only use .au. If you live in Britain, stick to using .uk.
11. Has Your Domain Been Used Before?
Before you register a domain, you would be smart to visit Archive.org and find out if the name you want has been used before.
There are plenty of times when a domain has been previously registered to a different business. These businesses eventually drop the domain for a number of reasons, usually because they were penalized by Google and not able to rank on the search engine.
Once the registration lapses, it is available to be used again.
But if you use a domain that has been registered before, you may find that your new site could sit at the bottom of SEO rankings for months.
Trying to reverse the ruling of Google for a domain owner’s previous actions is very hard. I have seen this happen repeatedly, and people had to jump through hoops to restore their domain to good graces.
Penalties for previous domain owners can be a real hassle, so it is best to use Archive.org and the Wayback Machine or Internet Archive to do some investigating and avoid domains that have been registered before.
Choosing Your Domain Name
There are many things to keep in mind when you are registering a domain. It is not as simple as finding a name you like and then registering it. There are tips to remember, steps to follow, and hiccups along the way.
Following the steps and tips above will increase your chance at finding success online.
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