February 8, 2016

Top 9 Rules for Choosing Your Domain Name

Selecting your domain name is one of the most important marketing decisions you’ll have to make, yet most people go about it in a haphazard fashion.

Here are my top 9 rules to choosing a good domain name for the average business. These are not hard and fast rules, but general guidelines. (If you are trying to create a new web-based business like “Google.com,” some of the following rules might not apply. We’ll deal with choosing a “brandable domain” in a future post.)

1. Use “Dot Com” Only

You should use “dot com” only. Anything else and you risk confusing your customers. You can tell them to find you at “company.net”, but I guarantee you that when they get back to their office, they’ll type “company.com.” I do it myself, so I know this is true.

2. Make It Identical to Your Business Name

Where possible, I really suggest this. When I was trying to name my company, I actually performed the domain name search first. Having your domain name be the same as your business name makes it easy for people to guess what it is and thus find your website quickly.

3. Shorter Is Better

Occasionally this contradicts rule #2, but sometimes it’s appropriate. If your law firm is named “Dewey, Cheetem, and Howe,” you might choose the domain name of “deweycheetemandhowe.com”, but it’s a little long and presents ample opportunity for the user to make a typo. In this case I might suggest going with “dchlaw.com” or something like that.

4. Don’t Use Hyphens

My main reason not to use a hyphen, like Rule #1, is to avoid confusion in the marketplace. If you told your customer to go to “Toms Hyphen Diner.com”, they’ll go back to their office and enter the URL as “TomsDiner.com” — which means your competitor may have just acquired your customer.

5. Don’t Use Number Substitutions for Words

“CallTom4Door2DoorSales.com” is an example of this. Most of my customers are professionals, and I think that a domain like that doesn’t support the credibility of my customers’ brands. It looks childish or low rent. Furthermore, like Rules #1 and #4, we want to avoid confusing customers as to where they can actually locate you on the web.

Similarly, avoid the use of zero (0) as it can be easily mistaken for the letter ‘Oh’ (O).

6. Easy to Understand and Remember

This includes easy to say on the phone. For example, if a business’ name was “Rubik’s Cubed” and their domain name was “rubiks3.com” I would say that presents ample opportunity for, you guessed it, confusion. You want to make it easy for people to be able to tell their friends to go to the site, and that can happen if your domain is easy to remember and say.

7. Register Your Domain for 10 Years (and Set It to Auto-Renew)

I wrote a post on the topic recently where one of my clients had their website and email go down because the domain registration didn’t renew. Don’t let this happen to you. Follow my instructions regarding Domain Registration on my other blog post, and set it to auto-renew.

8. Make Sure It Can Be Spelled Only One Way

I want you to visit “222.com” or was that “ToTwoToo.com”? When choosing your domain name, are there possible alternative spellings? Is the domain easily misspelled? Remember, most people are not good with spelling. If the answer is “yes,” then consider an alternative, simpler domain.

I know that “e9digital.com” breaks this rule, but the “9” is actually a critical part of our brand, and as such I’m going to give myself a special dispensation on this one.

9. Having Trouble Choosing a Good Domain?

If you’re not the creative or imaginative type, many of the better domain registrars have good domain suggestion software. Start with the few things you may have brainstormed, plug them into the registrar’s website and see what it suggests.

And if you’re still having trouble coming up with a name for your domain, business or brand, let e9digital help you with that.