A great business domain name is essential to success on the internet.
Your website is often the first place customers get that critical first impression about your business. A domain name gives them a critical first impression about your website.
A domain name has to represent your company’s identity in a few words, be memorable, and improve your brand.
As more and more domain names are snapped up by other businesses, coming up with something iconic and creative becomes that much harder.
But there is no limit to creativity and thus no limit to how you can create a proper and recognizable domain name. Here are a few key rules which you should always follow.
1. Make your business domain name memorable
The “Keep it Simple, Stupid” principle applies just as much to domain names as it does to any other part of your business. If you’re talking to someone face to face and share your website address, then that person should be able to spell that domain name without help.
While creativity is important, try to use words everyone knows. Arrange them in a creative way instead of utilizing complex or foreign vocabulary. To ensure your business domain name is easy to spell, do not use a dash or hyphen. Avoid numbers as well, especially “0” and “1” given they can look like letters.
2. Consider business domain name branding
Domain name branding does not necessarily mean creating a cool, stylish name. The important thing about your domain name is that it makes it possible for a layperson with no knowledge of your business to look at your domain name and have a rough idea of what your business does.
For example, if your business sells computers, try to use the word “computer” or something technology-related in your domain name. Avoid complicated jargon. Use words people can easily associate with your business.
The branding ideal is to have a domain name which is short, easy to remember and can also be associated with your business. Having a clever or funny name is nice, but hardly essential. Domain names should convey just as much information as your actual business name.
3. Register a .com business domain name
There has been a massive explosion in domain name extensions beyond the generic .com, .net, or .org over the past few years. In fact, there are over 882 domain names with more specific names such as .car, .lifeinsurance, or .food.
You may look at this new onslaught of options and think that using a specific business domain name extension such as .realestate for your new real estate business is a good way to attract customers. It is not.
While these new domain name extensions exist, most people do not know about them and are happy with the traditional ones. You should also buy up other versions of your domain name so Internet trolls don’t grab those domain names for themselves and use them against you. Just look at Carly Fiorina, whose campaign was mocked after not securing her full name as a domain name.
4. Do your legal homework on your selected domain name
There are over 326 million domain names out on the Internet, so the odds are that your domain name will be similar to some other website. This will not be a problem most of the time. But if you create a domain name which is similar to a competitor or another big website, you could find yourself facing a lawsuit due to trademark infringement and lose your domain name.
Trademarks are not the only legal or sensitive issue you could run into while selecting brandable domains for your business. If a domain name was used in the past to host a sensitive or malicious website, that reputation can stain your business.
When you finally have a domain name in mind, check with your lawyer to discuss if there are any potential legal issues with the name and go through websites carefully to find out if the domain name has an unsavory history.
5. Cross-check your business domain name
There are plenty of humorous examples of website domain names which end up spelling something very different from what their creators intended. Sometimes this is done intentionally as a tongue in cheek move, but a serious business should have a serious name.
It is often better to be too conservative rather than too original when it comes to choosing a business domain name. But while bad names are humorous to us and embarrassing to the website’s owner, accidents like these happen because the owner did not bother to cross-check the name.
Run your planned domain name past friends and acquaintances before making it your website home. A little effort in advance can save your business a great deal of embarrassment and money in the long run.
This article has been edited.
Simon Crompton is a freelance journalist and entrepreneur running several online businesses including his marketing firm, Threecolors.blue. Simon spends the majority of his time blogging about business startups and consulting on web development. He has launched multiple online companies. He is also a dedicated follower of fashion, and has written for the Financial Times and GQ. Connect with @PermanentStle on Twitter.