Whether you’ve never had a website or have had one for years, you may benefit from some guidance on domain names. You may be fine with the one you have, or you may need some guidance in picking a new domain name.
This quick insider’s guide will help you make sure you have the best domain name for your organization.
The perfect domain
In an ideal world, your business’s name with a .com on the end is the perfect domain. And in fact, you should definitely start by searching for that domain somewhere like GoDaddy.com or register.com, and find out if you can purchase it.
However, sometimes it’s not that straightforward. Someone else may already own it, your business name might be far too long, or there could be a variety of other issues.
Typically, the shorter your domain name is, the easier it will be for people to remember, type, and share it.
If your business name is too long, you may be able to abbreviate part of your business name, or only include the essentials. For instance, at T&S Online Marketing, we often use the domain name tandsgo.com, instead of the much longer tandsonlinemarketing.com. (Of course, we own both.) Your goal is to ensure that your domain is as easy to type as possible.
Another example can be seen with one of our clients, Geisinger Consulting, and their domain name. Using their exact business name would be long and somewhat difficult to spell. Instead, we went with the much shorter gcokc.com.
For many, adding your city, state, or metro location to the domain name is definitely an option. Just keep in mind that some people may assume you only do business in that particular location. It was a great solution for Geisinger Consulting, since their target market is the Oklahoma City metro area.
Picking a Top Level Domain (TLD)
The top level domain (TLD) is the letters that come after your domain name. It’s the .com, .org, .net, etc.
Some domains may already be taken with one TLD, but not with another. This can make choosing a different top level domain an option for getting the domain name you want.
The first consideration is whether you are a commercial business, or a non-profit business.
Commercial businesses should first look for their domain name with the .com abbreviation. If your business has a high level of patriotism associated with it, .us is another potential choice. If you, as a person, are your business (consultants, performers, etc.), the .me abbreviation may be a good fit.
Non-profit organizations, on the other hand, should first look for a .org domain name. Of course, it’s a good idea to purchase the .com version of the domain as well, if it is available.
What to avoid
Keywords in your domain name: Although some people insist that this will help with your search engine optimization, having keywords in your domain name typically doesn’t make that much of a difference. In most cases, it is, at best, a tie-breaker. Our general rule of thumb is to not worry about having keywords in your domain name, unless your industry as a whole is super-competitive on search engine rankings.
Things that require explanations: Examples of this could be dashes and numbers. Is it t-and-s-go.com or tdashanddashsdashgo.com? Having to explain whether something is spelled out or not can make it more difficult to share your domain name with others. And learn from our experience: Try to avoid including the word “and.” Although we obviously broke that rule, it was a necessary evil since “and” is a part of our business name. But we’re constantly explaining that it’s not an ampersand (&).
Unfortunate domain names: Make sure your domain doesn’t spell out something weird or inappropriate. One of our favorite unfortunate domain stories was an old IT company whose url was itscrap.com. Although they meant to say “IT Scrap,” it could easily be misread as “It’s Crap.” No matter how good their services might have been, their domain told a somewhat different story.
Using the same letters back-to-back: Using too many of the same letters in a row can often be confusing. The first domain name Tim ever purchased was coolcollecting.com. With all the C’s, L’s, and O’s in that domain name, it was very easy to mistype.
Pricing for domain names is all a matter of supply and demand. Most can be purchased in the range of $10 – $50 per year.
Sometimes you’ll find that someone else owns the domain name that you want, but that they have it available for sale. These are mostly domains with common words and/or short lengths. Although it is sometimes possible to purchase these domains, they can get very pricey.
Where to buy
Now that you have some initial guidelines on how to pick the best domain name, it’s time to decide where to purchase your domain. There are a variety of places where you can purchase your domain, and it is largely a matter of preference.
We use GoDaddy.com, mostly because they’re good at managing a large number of domains. However, it can be easy to accidentally buy something you don’t need when going through their checkout process. Another great option is one of the original domain registrars, register.com.