You’ve decided to get a website, now what to call it? Your domain name is important because it is the first impression one gets of your website – before someone has even visited your website they make a quick assessment of your domain name to decide if it makes them want to visit your site. But where to start? Knowing what search engines and visitors want can seem impossible. Let’s make things a little easier for you.
Match your domain name to your website/ business name
Ideally, your business name, your domain name and your website name should all be the same. As much as this sounds like common sense, it is often not followed. Visitors need to remember what to search for you under, they won’t if your domain name is not at least related to your business name.
Keywords in the Domain Name
Google gives weight to keywords in the domain name. For example if you search for “Surfing in the Maldives” you will see that the first few results that appear all have “surfing” and “Maldives” in their actual domain name. Google tries to give people the most relevant results when they search for something, therefore they look at the name of the site before the content even!
Using this principle means that you should try to add in the main keywords that you think people will search for, in order to find your products/ services/ information etc. Therefore, if you are an accounting firm called Blackheart, it would be best to name your website blackheartaccountants.com or blackheartaccounting.net or so on… RATHER THAN just blackheart.com. This is in order to show Google what your site is about from your name. It can help your search engine ranking greatly which = more traffic to your website!
[Tip: A good keyword generator can help you to find out which keywords are most relevant and most searched for in your industry. If I type in “car hire” in Google Adwords, I will find out that “car rental” is the most searched for term (globally) regarding that service, with 110 000 searches per month, however “car hire” is the most searched for term in South Africa. This is what you should consider when adding keywords into your domain name, be sure to do the research.]
Keywords are always good for a domain name then?
Well, that’s not entirely true. If you have a well branded name like Coca Cola there is no need to complicate your website with cocacolasoftdrinks.com, it is just not necessary.
The other keyword no-no is: domain names that are littered with only generic keywords for example: vehicle-hire-car-rental.co.za look as if they are a spam-filled, low quality website and will be treated that way by directories; you will have difficulty in getting visitors who trust your website as well as having websites link back to your site!
You want visitors to remember your domain name, so that they can remember you, remember how to get to your site and can tell their friends about you. Although domain names such as CarHire.com are great for search engines and easy to remember, you don’t always want your company to sound so generic, plus most of those are already taken or a fortune to obtain! Having a catchy name can draw visitors into your site and create a great brand for your company – look at websites like Bookd.com.
Short vs. Long Domain Names?
There is no doubt that most short domain names are easier to remember, easier to type and less likely for visitors to misspell. However, you don’t want to distort your company name so that visitors don’t know that it’s you. A medium – long domain name is not as bad as you think. People that know your company or hear about your company will type in what they know your business name as, that is why it is important to follow POINT 1 in this article, rather than trying to be too fancy or to cater too much to the search engines.
Short is not always better though, at least I know what FamousHistoricalQuotes.com is about and can find it easily as opposed to http://www.fhq.com… strings of letters can be disastrous in domain names, and are in fact most times harder to remember, especially if they are non-pronouncable, such as http://www.wsptzoufr.org.
So you have the perfect company name, but it’s taken as a domain name! Should you hyphenate it from marigoldstationers.com to marigold-stationers.com?
A positive point about hyphenated names is that search engines can distinguish the keywords better, essentially giving you a better ranking for those keywords, i.e. “marigold” and “stationers”.
However a problem can come about when people talk about and recommend your site, people are generally not going to say “Wow, I visited Marigold DASH Stationers dot com yesterday, it was great!” You will unintentionally be providing your competitors with your business. Even if they’re not direct competition, many people will land up at their website when looking for you and this can be a source of great frustration for them and for you. Especially avoid names with more than one hyphen, as it can be confusing and visitors can forget where to place them.
Let’s face it, it’s difficult to find a good domain name that hasn’t already been scooped up. However, new names are being created each day, using some innovative ideas that may help you too…
Adding prefixes, such as “i” or “e” before words, can create a totally new sounds, look at ehow.com! Adding suffixes is also becoming a popular way to jazz up ordinary keywords, such as friendster.com. Another way that is very exciting is to use different domain extensions (i.e. from another country) to make up a word/ phrase that includes the domain extension (eg. insure.me). One can also make up/ adapt words that look and sound interesting (eg. google.com). And last of all, one can add simple keywords together that are not ordinarily paired together and can create brilliant brand names (eg. carhub.com)!
It may actually be easier than you think to come up with innovative, new names – play around with your keywords for a short time and see if you can’t come up with something!
.COM vs .NET vs .CO.ZA : Which is better?
Domain name extensions can depend on what type of business you are advertising. In many instances you want to have an extension that signifies where in the world your company is based. If you are Darla’s Donut Delights and you deliver donuts throughout Cape Town, South Africa, it is preferable to have a local .CO.ZA domain. People in South Africa want donuts from here, so a .COM domain would be passed over.
If you instead have a business that is based in South Africa, but ships African curios all over the world, you would then want to have a domain name extension that signifies international status, as you would want potential customers from around the world to look at your website. Here a .COM website would do well.
However, what happens when your business name is already taken in a .COM extension; are .NET and .BIZ forms acceptable? Well, if your business is called Tiger Trainers, and the person typing doesn’t know your website address, they will try tigertrainers.COM before tigertrainers.NET. This is unavoidable.
However, .NET and .BIZ are perfectly acceptable extensions, and are highly recognizable these days. Even though .COM is ideal for most businesses, other extensions can further describe what type of website/ business yours is. For example, charities can do very well from .ORG websites and free article directories can do very well from .INFO websites. Here is a list of the what the most common domain name extensions are all about – Domain Name Extensions Explained.
Other domain extensions can help you to ensure that you get your business name the way you want it online, and don’t have to settle for an unrelated name to your business due to the limited availability of .COM domain names. [Just remember to advertise your website WITH the domain extension – it’s not easy to forget that Kalahari.NET is not a .com site, this is because Kalahari.NET always advertises itself as “Kalahari Dot Net”. They’re never spoken of as Kalahari!]
Best Advice – Buy more than one:
It is unlikely to find an available domain name (or any domain name for that matter) that can fill all of these criteria… so don’t stress. A great way to fill the gaps is to purchase more than one domain name – it is common practice even among companies with the best of names!
A website like Flickr.com is popular and most people know how to spell it, but in case – it’s always good to buy out flicker.com if possible. The same goes with websites with a number in them like Invoices4u.net – buy out InvoicesForYou.net as well!
If you already have a well established company name, but it’s not generic or keyword rich, then don’t lose out on what people know you as – create your company name – SmithsonPartnership.com as well as – a keyword rich name – such as BroomBristles.com and even SmithsonBristles.com if you want to mix the two.
Luckily, you don’t have to have a separate website for each domain name, you can have your website with your main domain name and then link as many other domain names as you want to that. So when you click on Bleach.com it will take you to the Clorox.com website! The perfect benefit of marrying both worlds to get you the most traffic possible, for your website.
A great domain name is unique as well as generic; you want visitors to be able to tell what your site is about before they enter it (eg: StainRemover.com) but you also want to create a brand and have an edge on those boring sounding websites (eg: Kotaku.com – a very popular gaming website). These 2 can be combined well if you think out of the box (eg: PayPal.com – 2 simple, searchable keywords that come together to create a unique brand). But make sure that your domain name is easy to pronounce, remember and type. And don’t be shy to purchase more than one – a general not sought-after domain is very affordable.
Some great domain names followed some of these guidelines:
- ehow.com (short, memorable, contains an important keyword for search engines but also unique)
- ma.tt (short, memorable, CREATIVE and getting around the assumption that .COM domains are the only good extensions out there)
- neopets.com (short, memorable and keyword rich)
- paypal.com (short, keyword rich, memorable)
- obeyyourthirst.co.uk – for Sprite UK (memorable, great use of a popular slogan for their brand)
- dotcom.com (short, memorable, and humorous)
- insure.me (short, memorable, CREATIVE!)
- keywordheaven.com (contains generic keyword, but used in positive brandable way)
- show.biz (short, memorable and creative)