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How to Choose the Best Domain Name (8 Tips and Tools)

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James Cummings
December 18, 2018


James Cummings
Netcast Events

James Cummings has written 3 articles for CGIDir.
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To a large extent, the success of your website is tied to the domain name, which is how people locate you online. It could also be the first and only chance a visitor gets to form a positive impression about your business. For these reasons, it’s extremely important to choose the right domain name from the very beginning. While it is possible to change your domain name further down the line, doing so can hurt your page rankings and convey the wrong message about your brand.

In this article, we’ll share some essential tips and tools about how you can find domain name ideas, choose the best domain name and create a viable brand for your business.

  1. Keep it simple

The best domain names are usually short, simple and unique. When you choose a complex domain name, visitors are more likely to make mistakes. Therefore, your domain name should be easy to recall and indeed spell. It should also be a word that’s spelt the same way across all cultures. For example, it’s not a good idea to use homonyms in your domain name, as the plan is to make it easy for visitors to find your website.

Additionally, long domain names are never ideal. If you check, you’ll discover that some of the most successful websites have short domain names. A good rule of thumb is to limit your domain name to 15 characters. This way, your visitors will easily remember it and also be able to spell it.

When choosing a domain name, try as much as you can to avoid words with double letters that appear in the same place. This could cause you to lose potential visitors due to typos. For example, a visitor can make the mistake of typingcarepairs.cominstead ofcarreapairs.com

  1. Avoid hyphens, numbers and strange characters

Good domain names are unique, but not so unique as to cause you to lose traffic. However, using strange characters, hyphens and numbers in your domain name can do just this. For instance, visitors could type a number spelt as a word, not knowing to use the numerical equivalent; this can cause you to lose potential visitors that should be helping grow your website.

Also, domain names that include hyphens, characters and numbers are often associated with spammy websites; this is something you don’t want. If your preferred domain name is already taken, using a hyphen or number is not the right solution. Instead, add an extra word or play around with how the words are positioned. You could also opt for a different domain name extension.

  1. Go with .COM

There are thousands of domain name extensions to choose from; however, it goes without saying that .COM is the most popular and should therefore be your first choice. In fact, almost all the most popular websites have .COM domain name extensions. This underscores how much a .COM domain name extension is valued. This doesn’t mean you can’t use something other than .COM; however, if you want your website to be influential in your chosen niche, it’s a good idea to opt for the most popular and generally accepted domain name extension. Also, most internet users who grew up on the .COM culture will automatically add this extension to a domain name when visiting a website. What’s more, most Smartphone keyboards are equipped with an automatic .COM button.

Of course, with more than 300 million dot com domain names in existence, it could be difficult to get the one you prefer. However with a bit of creativity, you should be able to come up with something to your liking.

  1. Use keywords

Almost every website owner understands the value of keywords. It’s keywords that help enhance the visibility of your website and boost the relevance of your domain name. By using relevant keywords in your domain name, you are essentially telling search engine spiders what your website is all about. Keywords also provide visitors with an idea of your website content before they even click on the link. As long as your website includes high quality content, provides excellent user experience, and contains relevant keywords in your domain name, you can rank high in Google SERPs.

It’s important to point out that you must be careful when using keywords, as stuffing your domain name with keywords is a practice known as black hat SEO; this is frowned upon by all major search engines, so when using keywords in your domain name, do so in such a way that it appears natural and not forced.

If you’re having difficulties finding the relevant keywords to use in your domain name, there are keyword research tools that can help you make the right selection. For instance, you can try Google Keyword Toolfor keyword ideas.

  1. Use ccTLD where applicable

Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLD) are domain name extensions that represent different countries. Almost every country has a ccTLD associated with it. For example, United Kingdom is .CO.UK and France is .FR.

If your website provides content for customers based in a particular country, you should consider using the ccTLD associated with that country to provide local relevance. For example, if your website provides services to customers mainly in any New Zealand city, a good idea would be to find and secure a .CO.NZ domain name extension on a site like https://www.freeparking.co.nz/domain-names/.

Local customers feel more comfortable working with a website that can show an obvious local connection. Also, when you use a country code domain name on your local website, you’ll enjoy the advantage oflocal SEO. Subsequently, your website will rank high in search engines for local search connected to the content your website incorporates.

  1. Don’t restrict your brand

While it’s a good thing for your domain name to reflect your niche, it can also be counterproductive. When your domain name has an obvious connection to the function your website performs, it can help visitors to easily identify your site content and attract the type of customers you need, but it can also be quite restrictive. For example, anyone will immediately know thatexpertautorepairs.comis an automobile repair business. Incidentally, a domain name like that will also help boost your search rankings. However, in the event that you decide to branch out into other areas of business, you may find it difficult using the same domain name.

Unless you’re absolutely certain that you won’t introduce content that’s unrelated to current business functions, it’s not a good idea to use a domain name that restricts your expansion. ConsiderAmazon.comas an example; while the original concept was to sell books, the website now sells everything from household goods to personal care products. Imagine if they had usedwesellbooks.com.

  1. Use research tools

When you finally come up with the ideal domain name, it’s vital you check to ensure the words or phrases which make up your domain name have no copyright, trademark or legal associations. It can be heartbreaking to use a domain name for a period of time, only to discover that you can’t use it anymore because of some unknown legal restrictions. Of course, you could even end up losing more than your domain name - especially if you have to face legal action. When you eventually drop the domain name, you’ll still run the risk of losing your earned page rankings, customers and brand reputation.

Before making a purchase, check to confirm that there are no issues with your chosen domain name or the words that make it up. You should also run a WHOIS search to discover the different variations of your domain name that exist. Using a domain name for which closely similar versions exist can result in a loss of traffic to those other websites. If you’re finding it hard to come up with a unique and brandable domain name, there are many domain selection tools that can make the job easier for you.

  1. Check on social media

Social media is an essential tool that’s used by small and big businesses alike to reach new customers, engage with current ones and access new markets. As a website and business owner, you should be using social media to the fullest. However, it might not be effective if your social media channels carry a different name from that of your website. For this reason, before buying a domain name, check to see if you can use it for your social media handle as well.

Using the words that comprise your domain name as your social media handle makes it easy for visitors and customers to recognise you on social media. In fact, as much as possible, every part of your online presence that relates to your business should be known by the same name. This way, you won’t lose any of your potential customers to the competition.

If your preferred name isn’t available on social media, you should consider a smart variation or try to see if your complete domain name (including the domain extension) will be accepted as a handle on your social media accounts.

Conclusion

To have a domain name, you’ll need to register one with an ICANN accredited domain name registrar. There are hundreds of these registrars on the internet; however, it’s a good idea to register with a domain provider closer to where your target customers are, as well as use a domain name extension associated with the country of your target customers.

The good news is that you can get a domain name for free if you buy a hosting plan from a reliable web hosting provider. If you’re just starting your blog or website, it’s a good idea to take advantage of this offer. However, you’ll have to pay for the domain name at the end of the expiry period. Fortunately, domain names are inexpensive and will not cost you a lot to renew.

We hope you found this article helpful and now have a better understanding of how to choose the best domain name for your website.


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