What is Domain and How to Choose your Domain
Domain names have a massive impact all over the web in terms of click-through rate, from search to social media results, to referring links, to type-in traffic, brand ability, and offline advertising. There’s a huge wealth of places that your domain name impacts your brand and your online marketing, and we can’t ignore this. Choosing a domain name is like choosing a company name — it requires a lot of thought and consideration. Your domain name is your identity on the web; you want to make sure you choose a name that not only fits your business but is also easy to find and promote.
1. Make it brand able
Brand able, meaning that when you hear or see the domain name, it sounds like a brand. Which means that hyphens and numbers are a real problem because they don’t sound like a brand. They sound generic, or strange.
2. Make it pronounceable
It matters because of “processing fluency”. A cognitive bias that human beings have where we remember (and have more positive associations with) things that we can easily say and think about. That includes pronounce ability in our own minds.
This is going to vary on the language and region that you’re targeting.
If you can’t easily say the name, you’re going to lose processing fluency, memorability, and the benefits of brand ability that you’ve created.
3. Make it short
Length matters because of the processing fluency that we talk about above.
The fewer characters a domain name has, the easier it is to type, say, share, and the less it gets shortened on social media sharing platforms and search results.
Shorter is better.
4. Use an appropriate domain name extension
Extensions are suffixes, such as .com or .net, at the end of web addresses. These can have specific uses, so make sure to choose one that works for your business. The .com domain extension is far and away the most popular, but it can be tough to get a short and memorable .com domain name because it’s been around for so long.
A bevy of new generic top-level domains — like .photography, .nyc and .guru — offer a great opportunity to register short and highly relevant names. And here are some other top extensions and how they’re often used:
- .co : an abbreviation for company, commerce, and community.
- .info : informational sites.
- .net : technical, Internet infrastructure sites.
- .org : non-commercial organizations and nonprofits.
- .biz : business or commercial use, like e-commerce sites.
- .me : blogs, resumes or personal sites.
5. Avoid trademark infringement
You have to be careful because it’s not whether you think your domain name could be confused. It’s whether you think a judge in a jurisdiction, where a company might take legal action against you, would consider your domain name confusable.
This can also create brand confusion, which is hard for your brand ability.
You should talk to an attorney or a legal professional if you have real concerns.
Trademark owners can attempt to sue a domain name owner, who’s owning the domain legitimately and using it for business purposes, and that sucks.
6. Make it intuitive
A good domain name gives people a strong idea of what a website will be about. Being able to look at a domain name and say, “Oh, they probably do this. This is probably what that company is up to” is a big win.
7. Use broad keywords
Keywords in a domain name can help with the cognitive fluency biases, but also from an SEO perspective. Google has been biasing away from these exact match and partial match domains, but the anchor text you get from people linking to your domain can help.
If you can get a keyword mention in your domain name that helps make it obvious what you’re website is about, go for it. But if you’re trying to secure a keyword rich or a keyword targeted domain. They don’t carry the weight that they used to and have negative associations (with users and search engines) that you should avoid.
Think about Amazon.com or Google.com, which clearly has no association with what it is. These are very well-branded but don’t have keyword richness to them.
It’s more of a creative association, just like “gusto” means “taste” in Italian. So I might be tempted to go in that direction instead.
8. It's okay to append or modify it
If your domain name is not available, it’s okay to go out and add a suffix or a prefix. It is okay to use an alternate TLD extension, like we talked about previously, and it’s okay to be a little bit creative with your online brand.
9. Protect and build your brand
To protect your brand, you should purchase various domain extensions, as well as misspelled versions of your domain name. This prevents competitors from registering other versions and ensures your customers are directed to your website, even if they mistype it.
10. Act fast
Domain names sell quickly. Thankfully, they’re also inexpensive, so register your favourite domain names as soon as possible.