How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Business
As a business owner, you need to establish an online presence that will allow customers to learn about your business and what you offer. For that, you need to have a website that’s recognizable and reflects your brand and values. The first step to doing that is choosing a domain name, which is a process you need to carry out carefully. In this day and age, your website serves as the backbone of your business and serves as the first impression for most of your customers.
Many businesses face this decision at the same time when choosing their business name, since domain availability can play a large role in helping a business decide on a specific name.
If you’re stuck on this first step of choosing a domain name, check out the 10 handy tips outlined below.
10 Tips for Choosing a Domain Name
Choosing a domain name can be tricky if you’ve never done it before, and if the ideas you come up with are taken. To get a great name for your domain name, you need to:
- Make it brandable,
- Don’t stress about exact match,
- Keep it short and memorable,
- Make it easy to pronounce,
- Avoid numbers and hyphens,
- Choose the right extension,
- Think long term for your name,
- Avoid trademark infringement,
- Make it intuitive,
- Act fast.
1. Make it Brandable
Does your domain name sound like a brand? A ‘brandable’ domain is unique, memorable, and relates specifically to the tone or voice of your business. A unique name will make you stand out from the competition and help your customers create a lasting association.
2. Don’t Stress About the Exact Match
Of course, having your domain name match your business name is ideal for brand consistency and general searchability, but this is proving increasingly difficult. Whilst an exact match is desirable, don’t let it hold you back if you love your business name but can’t get the same domain name.
Example: With millions of domain names already taken, it’s hard to find an available domain name with a trustworthy top-level domain. This has brought a new trend in domain naming, with businesses using shortened or abbreviated versions of their business names as their domains, such as Buffer using the domain Bffr.com and Bufferapp.com (before eventually buying Buffer.com).
3. Keep It Short and Memorable
The more intricate your name becomes, the tougher it will be for people to remember it and type it out. Make sure you use a short and catchy name that doesn’t use any numbers, hyphens, or special characters that can only confuse your visitors.
Example: Imagine being at a social event and talking about your website. If the name has 15 characters, ampersands, and forward slashes, nobody will remember it or even care enough to look it up. Instead of going for mygr3atonlinebusiness-website.com, a smarter choice would be to pick mysite.com or a different domain type if .com is occupied.
4. Make It Easy to Pronounce
Following on from the social event mentioned above, your domain name should be easy to pronounce.
Yes, most people will be typing your domain name and not speaking it out loud. Still, scientific studies have proven a natural bias in humans towards remembering and having more positive associations with words we can easily say and pronounce in our own minds – this is called “processing fluency”.
Example: If you use a random name that’s hard to pronounce, you’ll sound unprofessional and people won’t take you seriously. Imagine having to make an effort to recall how a website is spelled, you wouldn’t visit it often. Google.com would never be as successful if it was kzqyxfqz.com.
5. Avoid Numbers and Hyphens
Numbers and hyphens in domain names are too often and too easily misunderstood. People who hear your website address don’t know if you’re referring to the number “3” or the word “three,” or they misplace or forget the dash altogether.
If you have to provide a caveat everytime you say your domain name – “that’s a number 5, not f-i-v-e, and there’s a dash after it” – then you are probably losing a lot of traffic to confusion.
Example: Domain names with numbers and hyphens often lead to typing errors. There’s a number of ways a confused user can spell out my-company-2day.com – as a business, you want to remove that confusion. Numbers (especially years) can leave an unprofessional feel, and many will perceive websites such as discounts2023.com as spammy.
6. Choose the Right Domain Extension
Most businesses fall under one of the most common TLDs, such as:
- .COM: This is the most commonly used domain extension (almost 50% of websites globally in 2023) and serves for all business and personal purposes.
- .NET: It is a domain extension traditionally reserved for network-related websites, such as Internet or telecommunications providers.
- .ORG: It is a domain extension used by non-profit organizations.
- .CO: Initially a country-code TLD (ccTLD) for Colombia, .co became popular as an abbreviation for company, and businesses from all over the world started using it. It’s now a generic TLD instead of solely representing Colombia.
Depending on your country of origin, you may also want to choose your ccTLD so that customers recognize you within your location. While it doesn’t affect your SEO, ccTLDs can help you with users’ perception and geotargeting. Popular examples include .us (United States), .uk (United Kingdom), .de (Germany), .cn (China), and .au (Australia).
Recent trends have shown certain industries targeting specific domain extensions due to the familiarity of the abbreviation within their line of work. For example, the .io domain is becoming increasingly popular in the tech startup world, and .ai domains are flying in the AI sector. This stresses the importance of doing your research before you register a domain.
Example: The .com domain is the king of domains. Most users, when they hear about your CompanyXY, will assume your domain name is CompanyXY.com. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to take the .com domain, and you might actually benefit from going with a ccTLD. For example, the majority of users will look for local stores when shopping. A person from Singapore looking for sneakers will more likely click on sneakers.sg than sneakers.com. If your target audience is not global, go for a ccTLD.
7. Think Long Term
It can often help to think about where you want your business to be in five years’ time before you look at a specific domain name. For example, if you have every intention of expanding the services you currently offer as your business grows, then don’t set yourself up for time-consuming or costly changes in the future by having a service-specific domain name.
Example: If you’re starting a travel blog whilst you tour Europe but plan to continue traveling the world and documenting your adventures, don’t choose a domain name that’s specific to your current location – WorldJohn.com might be a better option than EuroJohn.com.
8. Avoid Trademark Infringement
Before you register a domain name, make sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s trademark and the domain name is available. Cybersquatting is a criminal offense and can lead to a lengthy (and expensive) lawsuit even if it was an honest mistake. Make sure to go through the USPTO’s trademark database and check your name is good to go.
Example: In 2003, a college student Mike Rowe registered MikeRoweSoft.com. Due to phonetic similarity to Microsoft’s trademark, the tech giant sued him for infringement and settled outside of court. Similar thing happened to Uzi Nissan who registered the domain name Nissan.com. If you want to avoid cybersquatting lawsuits, make sure you check the trademark database first.
9. Make It Intuitive
Many successful websites have domain names that people can look at and know exactly what the website is about purely based on the name. This is helpful from a customer experience and usability perspective.
Example: In 2015, the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (which uses the domain GSK.com) wanted to promote a vaccine against whooping cough. They created an entirely new website using the memorable and intuitive domain BigBadCough.com. This was a very successful campaign for the company.
10. Act Fast
As mentioned earlier, available domain names are becoming increasingly more difficult to find. About 33,000 new domain names get registered each day.
Don’t stress, ponder, or procrastinate over the “perfect” domain name because it probably doesn’t exist.
Whilst we encourage you to do your research and tick as many boxes as possible when choosing a domain name, there are always going to be pros and cons to any domain name. Brainstorm your ideas, do your research, and try to be thorough, but when you find something that all the decision makers agree upon, go for it.
What Are Some Examples of Good Domain Names?
If you don’t have a brand that sounds unique, you should do some keyword research and find out what people type in most frequently when searching for products and services similar to yours. For instance, CarInsurance.com is valued at over $49 million for its name alone. Similar examples include:
As you can see above, the domain type is important. All of the examples use a .com domain – nobody will pay millions of dollars for CarInsurance.mk. Still, .com is not the only domain type that’s worth your while. You can consider new TLDs that aren’t as frequent but can point to the industry you’re in. Such TLDs include:
Our domain name generator can help you come up with the best ideas using industry filters and keywords you type in.
How to choose a domain name for your business isn’t an exact science, but still, there are many things to consider. Use our tips as a guideline to make sure you cover different aspects, such as:
- Domain type,
- Domain name length,
- Trademark infringement.
If you’re looking for an extra bit of domain name inspiration to get you started, take a look at our free Domain Name Generator tool to get 1,000+ name suggestions in an instant.
Check out our video on top secrets to choosing a domain name for further information: