As it's true for your health with your choice of what you consume, so it is with your choice of a domain name for your website. Domain names have a massive impact on the overall online performance of a brand on the internet.
To an extent, a domain determines whether a user is going to click through to your website, trust your brand or not.
Being your brand’s unique identity on the web. It singles you out from the pack. As such, it is important that you pay the appropriate amount of attention to the process of picking yours.
And crafting one can prove to be a challenge. Mainly because all the good ones seem like they’ve all been taken. Which may force you to settle on alternatives. Even forcing many to change their brands' name.
Either way, there are some key considerations you need to factor in when choosing a domain that works best for your business website.
1. Make it read and sound like a brand
A Brand name is a long-term investment. Which makes it critically important to deeply think it through.
Making your domain name brandable essentially means that it should read and sound like a brand.
Which means avoiding keyword match domains as they sound generic and do not, in reality, differentiate you from the many others who could be offering similar services.
It also means avoiding numbers and hyphens within it as they complicate and sometimes add to the possible confusion when reading out or typing your domain name.
2. Ensure it is pronounceable
Having your domain name pronounceable is tied to the reality of how people are going to access your website. In most cases, they will either be typing your domain name or clicking on a link to your website. If for instance, they are sharing it out over the phone, they will be reading it out loud.
Knowing this, it is important to understand how people handle information.
In psychology, the term processing fluency means the ease with which information is processed.
The more difficult a domain name is to pronounce or read, the more difficult it will be to type and recall. Making it prone to mistype errors which could result to loss of business.
Retrieval fluency [psychology] means the ease with which information can be retrieved from memory. Domain names that are easier to pronounce are in most cases memorable.
3. Make it short, but no shorter
Shorter domain names are better because they are much easier to type and to remember (retrieval fluency).
Strive to make your domain name short while preserving its brand identity.
Essentially, your brand name and your domain name should be the same or easy to associate.
Users should be able to identify you just by looking at your domain name.
4. Bias to .com
The .com domain extension is the most popular of all extensions in the internet world. It literally rules the internet world. It is estimated that about 75% of all registered domain names are .coms.
It is not uncommon for users to make the assumption that an extension to a domain name of the particular brand is a .com even when it’s not.
So, where possible, always go for the .com version of your domain.
But it is not always available in the format that you would prefer for your brand name.
Which calls for a consideration of viable options like making modifications to your brand name if possible, buying the .com extension version of your domain name from its current owner or considering other extensions.
If you have to stick with your brand name and cannot get the .com version either because the owner is not willing to release it or it’s too expensive, looking into other domain name extensions would be a great option.
The .net extension is the second most popular domain name, followed by .org which is usually the preferred extension for non-profits.
Other great considerations would be .co, .info and .biz. Country TLD's such as co.uk, .co.ke etc. would also be great especially if your target market is localized to your specific country.
5. Avoid names that infringe on existing trademarks
If by any chance you choose a domain name that is in conflict with an existing trademark, you risk losing it.
Even worse if you’ve already set up a website and spent time and money marketing it, your business could suffer a damaging if not fatal blow.
Doing a basic background check to find out whether your preferred name is a registered trademark will go a long way in saving you from legal battles that would cost you valuable time and money.
6. Make the domain name instantly intuitive
A good domain name allows users to naturally create associations of your possible services or products just by looking at it.
With numerous industry-specific domain name extensions today, achieving this is way much easier.
The .org, for instance, creates the impression that the host website is a not-for-profit organization.
The .net implies that the domain owning company is possibly in the internet or networking industry.
A word included in your domain name that's related to your industry gives users a good possible guess of what you could be selling.
7. Use broad keywords when sensible
There is the possibility of both positive and negative associations when keywords are included in a domain name. It all depends on how it’s done.
If the inclusion of keywords is overemphasized, users and search engines are likely to associate your domain name with spammy content.
Take a look at the following example and determine the one that sounds credible if you were shopping for a computer online: cheapcomputersforsale.com vs smartcomputers.com.
Be subtle in your approach when including keywords in your domain name. Use keywords to help users identify what your business is about.
Avoid the temptation of excessive use of keywords in a bid to want to rank highly on search engines. The truth is that users and search engines are today biased away from keyword rich domains
8. What do I do if my preferred domain name is taken?
By all means, be creative. There are many ways skin a cat and possibly many more to get that perfect domain name for your website.
This could include adding a prefix, opting for alternative domain name extensions, appending a broad keyword to your domain etc.
A domain name is a vital aspect in establishing your online presence as a brand. Spending appropriate amount of time and resources to getting the right one is a worthy effort for your business and brand.
Do you want to create and register a domain name for your business or online venture?
We offer professional domain registration services and reliable hosting solutions to a wide range of clients. Send us an email or call us on +254 737 972 552 or +254 725 720 212 for personalized assistance.
ASL Africa is a team of seasoned professionals well versed with domain name services and web hosting technologies. We are based in Nairobi, Kenya.