The domain name you choose for your website is important.
Although we wouldn’t necessarily say that it can make or break your site, it definitely has a BIG effect on your page’s future.
Similar to a brand name, it can become iconic and easy to remember, or weak and forgettable.
This is because a domain name acts as your first impression. The name you choose when signing up for services like InMotion or DreamHost has the power to tell people a lot about what your site is and how it can serve them.
Unless you already have the perfect domain name (or at least think you do), here are some tried and true guidelines for you to follow when considering your domain name.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is your website’s address on the internet.
Just as your physical address helps your postman find your house to deliver your mail, so too does a domain name assist thousands of people in finding your website.
If you are on our site, you likely got here by typing in our domain, WebsiteBuilderInsider.com. If not, you likely accessed it by typing Google.com and then finding us in the search engine results.
If not, you likely accessed it by typing Google.com and then finding us in the search engine results.
Either way, you used a domain name to get here and you and billions of other people use them every day to get to where they want to be in cyberspace.
Oh, You Mean a URL
A domain name is not the same thing as a URL.
A URL refers to the components added to your domain name that enable you to access specific parts of a website.
The URL of this page, for example, is https://www.websitebuilderinsider.com/choose-domain-name.
In the example above, the bold letters are the domain name and the rest of the text makes up the complete URL.
How Do I Choose the Right Domain Name?
There are multiple considerations you need to make before selecting a domain name with your web host.
Although you may think many of them are obvious, we constantly see people with great websites choosing terrible names.
Here are eight things you should keep in mind.
1. Keep it Succinct
The best domain names keep things short and to the point.
On the internet, every second counts. This is true for things like loading times and content length (specifically, the time required to read it), and it is also true for the amount of time it takes to type out a website address.
Although each additional letter translates to fractions of fractions of a second, people simply don’t like to put in the extra effort.
In fact, the majority of the most popular websites on the internet make use of short domains, with the top ten averaging at just six letters!
Of course, it’s not always easy finding domain names that are short in length.
That why as long as you keep your domain name between 6-15 characters in length, you’re golden.
2. Make it Easy to Spell
Many of your website visitors will come from search engines, but never underestimate the number of users who will access your website directly by typing in your domain name.
That is why it is extremely important that you make it easy to spell.
Of course, there are sites like Tumblr, but for each website that drops a vowel, there are a million sites that conform to language standards.
This is because not doing so can potentially direct users to sites they did not intend on visiting.
Much more, it’s a quick way to lose what was meant to be a guaranteed site hit.
3. Make it Easy to Say
When choosing a domain name, many people forget that they will be plugging their website in person almost as often as they will be doing it online.
Unfortunately, because of this, many select a name that isn’t easy to say.
This can be either because of repeating letters, tongue twisting word combinations, or too many words being used.
This can lead to confusion and, once again, people accessing the wrong site.
A good way to prevent this is to introduce your selected name to your friends and family and ask them to write it down as they believe it is meant to be written.
You will be surprised to find out how complicated it can be to come to a consensus, but you will be glad you tried it on people you know first.
4. Keep it Free of Special Characters
Part of what makes a domain name easy to spell and say is keeping it free of special characters.
Domain names can be made up of the letters A-Z, numbers 0-9, and hyphens (“-“).
Avoid everything besides the letters.
Most people are used to accessing websites without special characters. Adding one just adds another level of unsurety to an already tricky field.
Even if there is a number in the name of your business, most people are likely to spell it out, merely out of habit.
You could always purchase two domain names if you are worried about losing potential traffic.
5. Use Keywords
Many people think of keywords as a tool used to help implement an SEO strategy for a pre-existing website, but making use of keywords begins with your domain name.
Although many people are of the belief that keywords in domain names no longer matter, they provide an unquestionable benefit.
As a result, we always recommend using a keyword planner tool to give you an idea of what people are looking for and find out how you can take advantage of that before even creating a single page on your website.
6. Make it Future-Proof
When Steve Jobs founded Apple in 1976, he wasn’t creating a company meant to last until 1977. He was creating a company that would last forever.
One of the ways he achieved this was by selecting a name that would always remain future-proof.
The name Apple has no preconceived notions attached to it, besides the one that the company has since created.
The same should be true of your website domain.
Instead of choosing a name that will quickly become irrelevant, think of something that will stand the test of time.
If you sell computers, use a more generic word like technology. If you blog about smartphones, opt for “communications.”
The more general you get, the more likely your domain name will be to stand up to the changing of the tides.
7. Use the Right Domain Extension
An extension is a string you use to cap off your domain name.
The most common domain extension is ‘.com’, although you may have encountered some others like ‘.net’ or ‘.org’.
But did you know that there are literally hundreds of other domain extensions available?
‘.pizza’, ‘.business’, and ‘.bike’ are just a few of the potential extensions you can choose from your website.
These extensions, while interesting, are still mostly unknown and unused. Using one can be harmful to your website by creating a sense of doubt about your trustworthiness.
Using one can be harmful to your website by creating a sense of doubt about your trustworthiness.
A unique extension may also be harder to remember. As we stated earlier, it’s important to keep your website as memorable as possible, especially if you plan on giving it out at parties, meetings, and other social events.
As we stated earlier, it’s important to keep your website as memorable as possible, especially if you plan on giving it out at parties, meetings, and other social events.
For the time being, we recommend sticking with a ‘.com’, but we definitely don’t rule out the possibility of changing this recommendation in the future.
8. Check a Domain Name’s Availability
None of these previous steps matters much if your domain name of choice is taken.
That’s why it is important to make sure your name is available not only with the registrar but on social media sites and even trademark offices.
There is nothing worse than an inconsistent brand name, especially when it comes to conducting searches.
Although it may seem like a lot of work, it’s worthwhile to ensure that you will be able to own your brand name across the internet.
Equally as important, especially for businesses, is that you don’t run into trademark issues. Avoid legal issues and take the time to do some research.
You can scour the internet for your brand using various tools made especially for this step.
By following these eight steps, you will guarantee that your website’s domain name is optimized to take your site places now and well into the future.
For more awesome tips, check out our expert webmaster roundup.