Observations and Insights

How to Pick the Right Domain Name

Chuck Bankoff - Friday, August 26, 2011
There is lots more to take into consideration when selecting a domain address than one may think in the beginning. After you develop your web site, distribute your website address on collateral product and enhance it for search engines like google, you will be considerably committed… so you better make a great choice up-front.

Generally speaking, listed below are my recommendations:

Shorter is preferable to longer:

Naturally short domain names are simpler to type, and often are simpler to recall. The issue is that the majority of good short domain names happen to be taken. You might have to get innovative, or search for a new extension (Dot Net or Dot Biz, etc.). Shorter is certainly desired, however, not at the cost of various other factors (read on…)

Simple to spell:

Admit it, some words and phrases are commonly misspelled. I'd personally never suggest taking up a intentionally misspelled domain as the primary, but you will really need to consider the ease of spelling versus the specific nature of the words in your domain. The worst case scenario is if the frequent misspelled name belongs to your competition.

Don't Use Special Characters:

Dashes, underscores and dots are very easily missed. Most likely you're turning to unique characters because variations without having those dots and dashes have been used.

No Acronyms:

Unless you are currently a brand name…or attempting to create one, do not assume people to understand that www.scvma.org is the domain for the “Southern California Veterinary Medical Association”. OK… that's a difficult one, however, if possible choose something longer that's memorable and simple to spell before you attempt to make someone recall SCVMA…

“Dot Com” beats “Dot everything else”… most times

Dot Com is definitely the granddaddy of all domain names. When you have a great “Dot Com” the majority of people will give you credit for being around a while… or at the least being the original. There's no shame in going with a different domain name extension, but see what you can do with a “dot Com” first. The exceptions are a “Dot Org” if you're in fact an organization. Or “Dot Info” if you'd like to be regarded as a source for information rather than commerce. Please don't knock yourself out attempting to force-feed yourself into a left over “Dot Com” when it does not make sense… Just check it out first.

Easy to remember:

Often even short domain names aren't easy to remember. Acronyms can be quite difficult; meaningless words and phrases or easily mixed up names can be quite a challenge as well. This becomes a issue when trying to leverage word of mouth marketing (one friend telling another) or collateral advertising that really needs the target audience to visit the website afterwards (for example radio advertising, or billboard marketing).

It isn't especially relevant if somebody is clicking on a hyperlink, but should they have to remember your website address or spell it… they better be able to remember it.

Use Keywords and phrases:

Search Engines Like Google assume that if you have a keyword within your domain, that your site has to be relevant for that term. When possible, employ a word or words that happen to be appropriate for you to appear on the various search engines as part of your website.

One more word of advice:

When publishing your domain name start using a method known as “stemming”. That is; rather than www.mydomainname.com, distribute it as being www.MyDomainName.com so that humans might actually make sense of it every time they see it. That makes it simpler for them to read it and remember it.

Not one of these guidelines are absolute. The best alternatives out there might require that you break a guideline or two. Just take into account that you're most likely going to need to live with your domain for some time… so make a beneficial choice.

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