This is a guest post by Alisha Shibli.
How much thought and research would you put into investing in a home? Buying a domain name is like investing in a home… for your online business. It’s a long-term commitment, and you must be confident about your decision.
Why is that so? Because your domain name is your first point of contact with your potential customers, and first impressions matter. People will see who you are and what you do from your domain name. Thus, a domain name is a decision that demands time, effort, and a bit of creativity.
The new digital age has introduced over 1200 new domain extensions. These have empowered new (and old) businesses to get industry-specific, keyword-rich, and fresh-feeling domain names.
However, with the broad spectrum of available choices, picking a name and domain registration can become an overwhelming task for business owners and individuals. So, how do you choose a domain name that checks all the right boxes – one that is short, simple, unique, relevant, keyword-rich, and simply perfect?
Here are the five questions you need to answer to ensure that your chosen domain name will add value to your venture. Before that, let’s learn what functions a domain name performs and why it’s necessary for your business.
- What Makes a Good Domain Name and Why Do I Need One?
- 6 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Domain Name
- What to Consider When Switching to a New Domain Extension For Your Brand’s URL?
What Makes a Good Domain Name and Why Do I Need One?
Every website has a unique string of numbers known as an IP Address. It’s almost impossible for a person to remember the set of numbers for each website. This is why domain names were developed to identify Internet websites rather than IP addresses.
For example, an IP address can look like 220.127.116.11, which is difficult to remember. Therefore a custom domain name makes it a lot easier to access the website.
A domain name can be any combination of letters and numbers and can be used on various domain extensions, such as .COM, .TECH, .SITE, .ONLINE, .SPACE, etc. For example, if you’re in the business of selling leather bags, the domain business name of your website could be www.leatherbags.store.
Choosing a domain name is an important decision. A good web address can add tremendous value to your online identity. The more short, simple, and well-branded your domain name, the more authentic it will make you look to your audience. Take the example stated above – www.leatherbags.site tells the user that the website is about leather bags. A URL such as www.leatherbagz-foryou.com looks more like a spam link because it has a misspelling and a hyphen and is long and clunky.
To understand why you need a domain name, figure out its purpose. Is it for a website or a blog? Is it a redirect, or is it for custom branded links? Is it for your personal use – a place to flaunt your work and creations?
You also need to invest time and consideration into creating a domain name that is best for your business and brand image. How? A good brand name can be measured across a few factors.
A credible domain extension is one major consideration. Good examples of such extensions are .com, .org, .store, and .edu. People view these as trustworthy without any shady, suspicious elements, thus lending an air of credibility and confidence to your brand. After all, you’d want people to do business with you confidently, wouldn’t you?
Your domain should clearly define what your business is about, in plain and simple terms, without any fancy and fussy characters. These will only confuse your customers and make it hard for your brand to be remembered. Look back at the examples of the leather bag URLs above.
A further consideration while creating a domain name is thinking about how it can improve your website’s SEO ranking.
Too much to take in altogether? Don’t worry. We discuss all this and more in detail below.
6 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Domain Name
Answering these questions will help you choose a top-level domain name for your brand’s URL that will add value to your venture.
1) Is This Domain Available?
Once you’re done exhausting your energy creating a unique domain name for your website, don’t forget to check if it’s available or already in use. Often we think we’ve come up with something new and original, only to find out it’s already being used by someone else.
To avoid that disappointment and frustration, check for the domain availability. You can do this on the domain registrations’ official websites or a domain name generator like Nameboy.
You will find various options with different extensions available to purchase with your chosen keywords through the domain name generator.
Once you confirm the availability of your domain name, check other social media platforms to ensure it is not being used elsewhere on social media. This is important because official domain names and social media handles should be similar to strengthen your brand’s validity and integrity.
2) Is This Domain Name Easy to Type and Remember?
Despite superior SEO ratings and a great social media presence, nothing spreads a web address faster than word of mouth. To make that possible for your web address, what does it need?
It has to be something that:
- People can easily pronounce
- People can easily type
- People can easily remember
To that end, what do you need to do? That’s right; you need to keep your domain short, with words that are easy to pronounce and remember. The spellings should align with the pronunciation. So when people hear the address, they don’t have trouble typing it or committing it to memory for future reference.
It can be boring to confine your creativity to achieve simplicity, but you don’t have to compromise on uniqueness and appeal. Your domain name can still be catchy and impactful without being too complicated. Sometimes the simpler and shorter a name is, the more forceful its effect on the audience.
To keep things clear, simple, yet impactful, there are a few elements you must avoid in your domain name. First, using special characters, numbers, and hyphens is undesirable and not advisable. They only end up complicating a name and making it clunky. They also compromise your brand’s credibility and authenticity, giving an element of unprofessionalism and suspicion. For example, shoppingforall.com sounds more realistic and professional than shopping_4all.com.
Avoid similar sounding words with different spellings or variants. Such as ‘affect’ and ‘effect’. Similarly, don’t make the fatal mistake of using slang or funky spelling versions of words. ‘Kool’ in place of ‘cool’ and ‘Xchange’ instead of ‘exchange’ will do anything but impress your audience. Remember, your domain is almost forever, and it’s a permanent brand identity mark. You want to keep it timeless and classic instead of using temporary fads and ending up with multiple domain names.
As a business owner, you’d want to appeal to a wider demographic. Many will be people from non-English speaking backgrounds or those who speak English as a second language. To be relevant to them, avoid culturally-specific slang words that they may not be familiar with. British slang terms are quite alien to people living in Indonesia, and Australian slang will be lost on people from Kuwait.
3) Will My Data and Privacy Be Protected?
Since the personal details associated with domain names are public information, you may want to ensure your data and privacy are safe and protected. Does your web hosting provider or domain registrar provide you with domain privacy options? Or do they charge an extra fee for the same? Look for a package that includes privacy features in the basic plan.
Unfortunately, some domain registrars secretly take ownership of your domain by putting their details in the WHOIS forms to protect your privacy. However, this gives them the rights and ownership over your domain. So you’d want to be cautious of this during the registration process.
You must confirm that your data is safe and that the registrar will not share or sell it to any marketing organizations or third parties. Often clients fall into the trap of reselling their domains to others without being consciously aware of it. Thus privacy protection is a vital consideration when buying your domain
4) Are There Any Hidden Charges?
Before buying your domain, remember to read the ‘Terms of Service’. Watch out for any hidden costs in your package that you’re unaware of upfront. For instance, most registrars charge an additional fee for any administrative changes to the WHOIS records if they want to make any edits at a later stage. Make sure your package doesn’t charge you extra for doing this.
Additionally, registrars charge enormous money for transferring the domain to another host from a previous owner. They also make the process highly complicated to make you rethink your decision regarding a domain transfer. Knowing beforehand how much you’d have to pay and what process you’ll follow in such circumstances is good.
Other hidden charges may include add-ons and additional services that the registrar will try selling you, such as domain security and storage. Read the terms and conditions of your contract to be sure what extra features you’re getting and what exactly you’re paying for to avoid a surprise in the final invoice.
5) Will This Domain Extension Affect My SEO Ranking?
SEO happens to be one of the most daunting topics for most companies. For a business to prosper, it needs to rank well in search of the right keywords. Picking a domain name that is keyword-rich, short, simple, and easy to remember isn’t just about good branding; it is also an effective SEO hack.
As far as Google’s search results are concerned, the search engine has clarified in its Webmaster Blog that website domain names do not have a direct impact on a website’s SEO rankings. However, it is important to note that Google’s algorithm is complicated and scans multiple factors to determine a website’s search ranking.
Regarding domain names, the search engine treats two domain names equally. It’s the users that treat the domain names differently and their choice impacts a website’s rankings. The users determine which domain name looks more credible based on how it looks.
A few factors that do add value to search rankings are:
- Credible backlinks from reputed websites.
- High-quality and relevant content. A keyword-rich domain name and top-quality content are more likely to get high traffic.
- Using anchor text correctly. If someone links your website to words in your domain name, it’ll positively impact your SEO rankings. For example, if your website is called www.babyshoes.store and is linked to ‘Baby Shoes Store’, it’ll add incredible value to your Google ranking. This is one of those places where having a keyword-rich domain name helps.
When it comes to SEO ranking, any domain name can rank well if the users are pleased with the content and overall functionality of the website. Moreover, this detailed report on new domains and SEO explains this concept.
Here are some examples of keyword-rich domain names:
- www.SupremeAI.Tech is a short, simple and keyword-rich domain name compared to www.supremeAItechnologies.com or www.supremeAItech.com.
- www.TheDublinStationery.Store is a great keyword-rich domain name for a business that sells stationery in Dublin.
6) Will This Domain Help me Grow my Business?
If you purchase a domain name ‘www.chocolatecake.site’, then it’s safe to say that you’re not planning to venture into other verticals of the industry, such as selling cupcakes or cookies, or maybe some other flavour of cake like blueberry. If you are confident that chocolate cake is all you want to do, then www.chocolatecake.site is a perfect domain name.
However, if you feel that, as time passes and your business grows, you’ll want to expand your services, then maybe consider choosing a domain name such as ‘www.yumbake.site’. That way, you can make and sell all kinds of baked products such as cakes, pastries, bread, cookies, cupcakes, and more.
This is why having a sharp vision for your website’s future is crucial. Once you have identified the nature of your business and planned a path for it, you can leverage many branding opportunities from your domain name.
What to Consider When Switching to a New Domain Extension For Your Brand’s URL
Your domain name is a powerful branding tool that becomes stronger when it’s descriptive. For example, when you’re launching a new line of handbags and wish to direct people to the page on your website where they can look at the bags, it would be great to launch it on www.newbags.store.
For seasonal marketing and sales campaigns, you can register a permanent domain name for all your sales promotions and keep changing the content according to the time of the year. For example, you can get www.newoffers.fun and promote this link in all your marketing communication.
You can also create deep-links that make it easier for your users to remember your business. One of the best examples of this is Amazon’s Kindle. While the link to the Kindle store on Amazon’s website is: https://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html/ref=as_li_ss_tl?node=133141011&linkCode=sl2&tag=amznip-kindle.store-20&linkId=4cd0d831c10ebb77bbf4aeeb9b352a3a, the users only need to remember www.kindle.store to get there.
The more creative your approach uses these domain names, the better their impact will be on your business’s overall branding and communication.
How did you decide if you already have a domain name?