For the most part, whenever I’m hired to write web copy, the client already has a website or they’re already in the process of putting one up. However, I was recently part of a project in which the client had just decided to build a new website and they needed suggestions for domain names. To be honest, domain name selection isn’t something I do on a regular basis, but I do have some basic guidelines I follow when picking one.
- Consider the brand—If you already have an established brand name, it probably makes sense to use that as your domain name. However, if you’re a new company or you aren’t building around an established brand, then maybe you don’t need a brand-driven domain name.
- Look at the top keywords—Not only do keyword-rich domains still help with SEO, but they also tend to clearly describe who you are/what you do. So, start brainstorming some keywords and doing some keyword research online. One thing to keep in mind: When choosing a keyword-based domain, use broader keywords that capture everything you do, not service-specific keywords. For example, if you’re a graphic designer that handles all types of design (print and online), you wouldn’t want to limit yourself with a domain like “houstonwebdesigner.com.”
- Make sure it’s completely different—It’s not enough to simply choose a domain that’s available. You also have to make sure the domain you choose isn’t too similar to any others that are already out there. For example, it wouldn’t be wise to choose “houstonwebdesigners.com” if there’s a competitor out there with “houstonwebdesigner.com”. It’s too similar, making it too easy for people to get confused. Be as unique as possible.
- Make it memorable—The easier your domain name is to remember, the better. A good domain is something people could easily tell their friends at a party and the friends could remember it when they get home.
- Keep it simple—Good domain names are easy to type. If you choose a long domain name or one with complex verbiage, you make it hard for people who just want to type in your domain name and go to your website. Keep it simple.
- Stick with .com available domains—If you’re trying to build a serious brand, I always recommend getting a .com domain. The bottom line is that “.com” is the first thing the average web user thinks of when typing in a web address. So, if your website is on a “.biz” or even “.net”, and someone who has heard of you is trying to get to your website, they could end up on a competitor’s “.com” or just a nonexistent page.
- Avoid hyphenated domains—Again, if you’re trying to create a brand that people tell their friends about, avoid hyphenated domains. It’s too easy to forget hyphens when typing a domain, and when people talk about your website, they won’t refer to it as “red hyphen and hyphen blue hyphen widgets dot com”. They’ll likelier say “red and blue widgets dot com.”
What are some of your rules for good domain name selection? Share your tips by leaving a comment.