Your domain name should be memorable, descriptive and easy to spell, but there are other factors to consider when choosing a name to ensure it serves you well in years to come. Whether you’re choosing a name for a new product, a service, company launch or even just a blog, it is advisable that you follow some very basic guidelines to ensure you get it right. Here are some of the internet industry’s ‘top tips’ to help you create a great domain name.
1. Keep it relevant:
When someone hears about your domain name for the first time, it’s a good idea to make it descriptive enough so they get a good indication of what they’ll find when they visit your website. When you have come up with a few choices, ask your friends, family, colleagues or clients what they think. A name that you feel is perfect may be too difficult for others to remember or even spell. Check that your domain name is easy to say and understand when given out over the phone.
Doing the market research on your name (or simply testing it out by writing it down in various formats without hyphens or capitalisation) may be frustrating and send you back to the drawing board a few times, but it will be worthwhile in the end. There are many who have fallen foul of this simple market research rule. Here are a few examples of how the owners of some domains failed to do their research; some with quite amusing results:
First of all, the rich & famous persons’ database called ‘Who Represents’ simply ran with their company name which, as a domain name, reads as whorepresents.com; the now legendary stationery shop called ‘Pen Island’ that was registered as penisland.net; a web portal called ‘Experts Exchange’ where expert programmers exchange advice and views can be found at expertsexchange.com; The ‘Therapist Finder’ directory thought therapistfinder.com was the ideal name for them, whereas ‘Mole Station Native Nursery’ proudly call their website molestationnursery.com
2. Incorporate memorable & related keywords:
When you first start looking at a new domain name it’s useful to have half a dozen phrases or keywords in mind that best reflect what subject your website will be about. You can then start to re-arrange them to create inspiration for your name which may be easier for customers to remember. For example, if you are launching a website for a domestic cleaning service, rather than just running with the long-winded company name, we would firstly recommend you jot down a few simple words and phrases that people would use in an internet search to find a business like yours. For example “cleaner, housework, maid, chores, help me clean my house” etc. You could also consider prefixes such as ‘my’, ‘your’, ‘our’ etc. Playing around with these phrases and keywords will soon get the ideas flowing – remember you’re looking for a phrase or word that will automatically spring to mind in the imagination of someone looking for your product or service.
3. Keep your domain name short, easy to spell and easy to remember:
Short names are easier to remember and usually easier to type. Although you can register a domain with up to 63 characters, we advise you register the shortest name available that visitors will associate with your website – generally a dozen characters or less excluding the suffix. Shorter names have the added advantage of taking up less space in printed media such as press advertisements or on business cards.
People are generally quite lazy when it comes to remembering and typing in domain names, so if yours needs a certain level of concentration to type in correctly, then you could frustrate potential customers who get it wrong or, even worse, send them to someone else’s website. Many people may want to tell others about your website, and this valuable word-of-mouth advertising will only work if they can easily remember your name and don’t have to think about complicated spellings, unfamiliar words or hyphens.
Sometimes, companies register a domain name using the full company name and another version that is shorter and easier to remember. Some go the extra mile and register common misspellings of their name. This is a great method of protecting your name and guarding against anyone else registering something similar to yours. Also you don’t need a separate website or web page for each, as your website designer can re-direct all of your domain names to go to just one site.
4. Make your domain name unique:
Do not be tempted to choose a name that could become confused with someone else’s website – it’s a car crash waiting to happen! This includes plurals, hyphenations or misspellings of any already existing domain names that you don’t own. As we’ve said before, people are generally quite lazy when it comes to remembering and typing in names; so they could easily be forgiven for missing out the hyphens (or an ‘s’ at the end). This in turn could result in them visiting the wrong website – and in the commercial world that could mean you losing a sale as your customers buy the product from another website with a similar sounding name.
Another reason for registering a unique domain name is to avoid any possibility of infringement on someone else’s copyright. We’ve all heard the urban legend of the bored schoolboy who went on line one day and discovered his favourite international pop band had not registered their name as a domain. He registered it and promptly sold it to the band’s record label for thousands of pounds. Today, stories like this are few and far between. Although there are still people out there trying to make a fast buck from commercial enterprises who fail to register their own brands as a domain name, these companies will have invested a fortune in their brands and they’ll no longer roll over and pay out without a fight through the courts.
5. Avoid numerals and don’t hyphenate:
You cannot use spaces or symbols when you register a domain name, you can only use letters, numbers and dashes (hyphens). Unless you are a nationally recognised brand name (for example Phones4U) then using numbers and hyphens can make it a slow drawn-out process to give your domain name out verbally. Having to say ‘hyphen’ in-between each word or explain over the phone whether it’s a 2, two or to; a 4, four or for etc, can all be very time consuming. This also breaks both the rules of making your name easy to remember and easy to type.
6. Only register a domain name if the dot-com is available too:
For those registering a domain name in the UK then you can currently choose from the following extensions:.com,.co.uk,.net,.me.uk,.org,.org.uk,.biz,.info,.tv,.eu,.mobi,.me,.tel,.co and.at.
Your business may be based in the UK and you may never intend to trade overseas, so you may wrongly assume you only need to buy your domain with a.co.uk suffix. We always advise to only register a name if the dot-com version is available too. There are many different extensions (or suffixes) available and we usually recommend you buy the.co.uk,.net and.mobi versions in addition to the dot-com. That way if someone remembers your domain name but not the suffix, there’s a fair chance they’ll assume it’s dot-com – it’s the most common extension that many people try when searching for a website. So, if you don’t register the dot-com version of your website’s domain name then someone else may buy it; your customers could then unintentionally take their business to someone else’s site. And don’t worry, you don’t need to have a separate website for each domain name suffix, as several names can point to the same web address. You may only want to use the.co.uk suffix for your domain name (as the BBC does), but they do still own the dot-com version of their name and re-direct it to.co.uk, which in our minds is crucial.
Further information is available at http://www.alliandesign.com or telephone 01527 457614.