Picking the Right Domain Name

Deciding on a domain name for a new website can be tricky and can make your head spin if you think too hard about it. At this point in the evolution of the Web, it might seem that most good domain names are taken. That is true, to an extent, but with some creativity and some research you can find a good domain name to represent your organization or brand on the Web without too much effort.

There are a few techniques that can help get you on the right track with finding a domain name.

Get a .com

There are plenty of other domain extensions to choose from, such as .net, .org, .biz and other options. There is nothing wrong with using those extensions. However, preference should be put on the .com version if you want to be able to capture direct type-in traffic and build a brand around the domain name. Many people out there will likely still assume that .com is what your domain extension is, even if it isn’t.

Keep it Short

A concise domain name will usually be easier for people to remember and type. Another advantage to a shorter domain name is that it will fit much more easily on business materials such as business cards, or will be easier to read from a billboard while you drive by at 45 miles per hour.

Match Your Brand Exactly

It is ideal if your domain name is your brand name with a .com extension at the end. Nike.com, Target.com, GateCityBank.com – see a trend there? Locally, in the Fargo/Moorhead market, there is FargoDome.com, WestAcres.com, JLBeers.com, Scheels.com – all brand names with .com at the end. If you are still in the naming process for your business, consider doing domain name research at the same time you are brainstorming brand names. Realistically, if you desire to match a .com domain with a new brand, your best bet will be to find two or three word combos that haven’t been used for a .com domain yet. Or gamble on making a new word or variation on spelling of a word, like Flickr.com, and try to build a brand around that.

No Numbers

Numbers can be confusing in domain names. If you tell a domain name to someone verbally, and it includes a number, they may not know if it is the numeric or the written version of the number, and this can cause confusion.

No Plurals

Don’t pick the plural version of a domain name if there is already a well-established website or competitor at the non-plural version that you don’t control. This could lead to confusion and possible traffic loss to the other non-plural version of your domain name.

No Hyphens

Hyphens are commonly used in domain names, but we don’t like them and try to avoid them if possible. When verbally pronouncing a domain name, hyphens will add difficulty in verbal delivery and can cause confusion. Also, if there is another website established at the non-hyphenated version of the domain name, they might pick up some of your traffic when direct visitors to your website type the domain name wrong.

Consider Copyrights

It is crucial to be aware of copyrighted names and to make sure not to build a website around a domain name that infringes on a copyright.

Target Your Geographical Area

If your organization is intended to serve a specific city, state or region, it can be helpful to have the local keyword in your domain name. People tend to search that way, using local search modifiers such as “car dealers Fargo”. If you can find a domain name that matches a search phrase like that, which also drives direct keyword traffic, you might have a winner.

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