How to Choose a Domain Name

Your domain name should be short, easy to spell and easy to remember.

If your business has existed long enough to have brand recognition, do your best to get that as your domain name.

Register Variations

If your business name has a possessive or plural S in it, buy it both ways and have the incorrect domain name bounce to the correct domain name. You can watch the stats to see if you need to keep the other variations.

For example Tore’s Home bought www.toreshomes.com, www.torehome, www.torehomes.com and www.toreshome.com.

I watched the stats. People frequently typed in www.toreshomes.com, more than one home. I never saw anyone type in www.torehome or www.torehomes.com, only one Tore. So I kept www.toreshomes.com and had it bounce to the correct site, but I didn’t renew the other two names.*

The same thing goes for easy misspellings of your company name. Bad spellers may be good customers. Buy the misspelled version of your name. If your business name is too hard to spell, pick a different domain name.

What if the name you want isn’t available?

If your domain name is registered by someone else, you can sometimes buy it from them.

Perhaps add something descriptive to your domain name.

For example, your company is named Green Orchid. www.greenorchid.com is not available. Try registering www.greenorchidsalon.com, www.greenorchidflorist.com or www.greenorchidsoap.com. Your business name hasn’t changed, but you have a domain name that also tells something about what you do.

If your business is only targeting a specific area, you can add that area. This helps local people know that you are local.

Your domain name doesn’t have to be the same as the name of your company. You can use a domain name that describes your company instead.

Make It Easy

Don’t use unusual words. Don’t use obscure words unless you are only targeting people that regularly use these words.

For example, fenestration means windows and doors. People who sell windows and doors may use this word regularly. But someone searching to buy windows is looking for windows. Even if they know the word fenestration, they are not likely to type it into a search engine looking for windows.

Don’t use words that are hard to remember or hard to spell.

A cymbidium is a green orchid. But the web address www.cymbidium.com or www.cymbidiumflorist.com is not a good idea for the salon, florist or soap company named Green Orchid. That name is probably available.

Try to avoid easily misspelled words. Double letters can make spelling difficult.

For example Copper Ridge www.copperridge.com. People miss one of the Rs. They put in www.copperidge.com, “Copper Idge” without noticing.

Don’t choose a name that is too long.

A shorter name is easier. Don’t choose a name that is too long. Around 15 characters fit onto the address bar on a phone. A name that is too long to fit, may be too long. Although the limit is actually 63 characters, shorter is better.

Don’t Misspell

Don’t use intentionally misspelled words. Even if it’s cute, it’s still not a great idea. It’s hard to remember and you have to force spell check not to “correct” it. It seems less trustworthy. How likely are you to want to put your money into a Savigs and Loan? Or trust a Car Repareman?

More Don’ts

Don’t use a domain name that is already in use and add numbers. You know, like people do with email addresses. Wow! Really! Don’t!

Don’t use dates. Don’t use dashes or underscores.

Don’t use “a” or “the.” If your website is www.thegreenorchidsalon.com people will always type in www.greenorchidsalon.com.

Make It Make Sense

A good domain name and company name should identify you.

A long time ago I got a wholesale license. I picked the name Carla’s Interiors. Because Carla is my name, I did not have to do a fictitious name search or a DBA. And “Interiors” let me buy pretty much anything.

But as a domain name, what kind of business do you think www.carlasinteriors.com is? You would probably guess interior decorating or designing. That wasn’t what I did.

Look at the name you are considering. What does it make you think of?

Don’t Use Someone Else’s Brand Name

DON’T use someone else’s brand name in your brand name. The owner of that brand name can sue you for it. They can and they do.

Get The Right Extension

.com and .org are the most trusted domain extensions. If you are commercial, if at all possible get .com. If you are an organization, get .org.

  • .com stands for commercial.
    It’s supposed to be for for-profit businesses.
  • .org stands for organization.
    It is supposed to be for nonprofit charities, groups, and organizations.
  • .net stands for internet or network
    It is supposed to be for web services.
    .net is the most common backup if .com is not available.

People are just more used to typing in .com for a commercial business. If there is already a company with your name that owns the .com and you buy the .net or something, people will default to .com and you are driving traffic to them. Do not buy the .net or .biz version of a domain name if the business that has the .com does the same thing you do. An awful lot of your marketing will just benefit them.

Why register a .com domain name?

It’s the original and still most sought-after domain extension. When people think of the internet, they think .COM. It’s the domain that started it all, and for over three decades now, .com has remained the most popular and most credible way to end your URL.

dreamhost

Almost half the websites in the world end with .com. The second most common is .net. Although it is supposed to be for businesses that provide web services, it is often recommended as an alternative to .com if the domain name you want is not available.

There are a lot of other domain endings that might work if they make sense. There are over 350 domains to choose from. .com, .net, .org and .info have been around the longest.

Other domain endings might work for your specific business. For example .biz, .club, .email, .photography, .accountant, .cafe, .bargains, .tv, .guru or .pizza.

But you will have to work to make people remember to put in anything other than .com.

Not all registered domain names have a website.

Just because there is not website…

“I checked! My name is available!”

Not all registered domain names have a website. The domain name may already be registered even if you get a Server Not Found message.

Compromise

If the domain name you really want isn’t available, settle for something that is good enough while you try to get the name you want. Don’t get bogged down fighting for a name. Get a name that is good enough and move on for now.

You can change your domain name later if the name you really want becomes available or if you think of something better.

Be Open to Change

If you find that people have trouble with your domain name, change it. It will cost you a lot of time and money trying to “educate” people to put in the right domain name. No matter how much you love your name, if your potential customers keep getting it wrong, maybe it’s the name that’s wrong.

*Don’t use the misspelled domain name as a mirror site. Google sees that as duplicate content, which hurts your search ranking.