Learning how to choose the right domain name for your website is an extremely important step to launching a new website. Think about some of the most memorable companies that started on the internet. While their name might not have been the choice most of us would have made, it obviously worked well. So why did names such as Monster, Amazon, Indeed and others become such household names? They built a brand around them!
Choose your name wisely
The domain name you choose for your website does not need to be a keyword driven name. In fact the majority of the time if you were to choose a domain that is full of keywords Google and other search engines will not consider it a quality website. Why? That is simple. Over the years a lot of people have tried to manipulate the search engines into ranking their website higher with the use of keywords within their domain name. At first this did work and many low quality websites that were designed to do nothing other then collect clicks on ads, steal information or any number of other unscrupulous acts actually did make it to the top of the rankings.
Google finally put an end to this a number of years ago with an update to their algorithm that made it more difficult to rank a website like this. They put quality content above quantity and started to recognize keyword stuffing that was manipulating their original algorithms.
Now that you understand that keywords do not have to be part of your company name doesn’t that open up the realm of possibilities. Amazon and others didn’t become popular because of their domain name. Sure you do recognize it now, but 19 years ago when Amazon started you had no idea who that little website really was. They started out selling books online and slowly developed into one of the most valuable companies in the world by choosing to focus on quality and expanding what they offered to meet the needs of the few customers they had. This worked amazingly well and the search engines have rewarded them. Think about every time you do a search for something. Almost every time you see a result for Amazon. That is because they have a wide variety of items offered on their website, but also because the search engines give them a high quality score and trust rating.
People do make an immediate connection in their minds between your website and the domain name you choose, but not because you used a lot of words that drew the attention of the search engines. The truth of the matter, people will remember your website because you provide them with what they need. Everyone knows that McDonald’s is the place to go for a hamburger not because their name says McHamburger, but because it is associated with what they are looking for.
Choosing the right domain name can have a lasting effect on your chances of long term success. What if you choose a fun name and build a brand around it. That is what others have done. Jeffery Bezos did that with Amazon. I am pretty sure the vast majority of us would never have chosen that name for a company selling books, let alone all the other items they now sell. However, if you look at their logo you will notice that he had a great idea. The little arrow that points between A & Z in the name means that they offer pretty much everything. Many people never actually catch that.
Strategies to choosing a domain name!
There are some strategies you should really consider when you choose that amazing new name.
- If available use a .com: Lets face it. When we think of any website the first thing we type in is .com at the end of the word. Why? In the early days of the internet this was the extension that pretty much every company used and it has become ingrained in our culture. Even to this day there is a certain level of trust associated with .com. There are hundreds of other extensions to choose from, but lets face the music, .com is king. This doesn’t mean you cannot build a brand around .net or any of the other extensions out there. It is just going to be harder to get your brand remembered. The sad reality is that you can actually lose a large amount of traffic as you build your brand just because people type in the .com extension of your name and don’t get your website, but some other page that is a parking page for someone who owns that extension or their scam website. That can hurt you in the long run and people will think you are not trustworthy. Give some thought to your choice on this and how you are going to market your domain name.
- Do a trademark search: The last thing you need is to receive a letter from a lawyer that contains a cease and desist. Companies are very protective of their trademarked names and honestly who can blame them. Choosing a name that is even close to their trademark can get you sued. I am sure you are wondering why that is. The answer is simple. Misspelling! People will misspell a name when they type it in the search bar and this happens a lot everyday. Since a lot of people normally just type in the name of the website (ex: www.yoursite.com) many times they add or forget a letter (ex: www.yousite.com). So instead of getting the website they intended they get another site that might have a different reason for you being there. They might be totally legitimate, but they also might be trying to steal someones money. In fact over the years there have been websites that were built to look exactly like the website that was misspelled. Companies such as eBay, Amazon and others are now on the lookout for these websites and do not care if your intentions are innocent or not. Do yourself a favor when you choose your domain name and do a trademark search and avoid the headaches.
- Please, Please, Please avoid dashes and numbers: Sure it is tempting. You probably are thinking “what would this hurt?”. First off just try telling someone that your domain is johns-store.com. Most people are going to forget the dash and just put in johnsstore.com. People want it easy to remember. Also there is a certain level of mistrust by people towards domain names that contain dashes and numbers. They are all to often viewed as scam websites and the last thing you want is to be labeled a scam website. Another big factor is that search engines do not rank domains with dashes and numbers in them as well as ones that avoid them. Again this is most attributed to scam websites that tend to use these type of domains.
Choose a domain you can brand
The name you choose should be easy to remember, maybe fun & clever and most definitely unique. Your name is your brand and should be something you never take lightly when choosing.
People remember a brand for good and bad. Think about some of the most famous and infamous brands over the years:
- Coca-Cola – Arguably the most recognized soda company ever. You know them as a beverage company just by their name. They choose their marketing carefully to cultivate this brand and continue to grow their sales. Also they are able to bring new products to market that become successful because ….. Well lets face it, because they are Coca Cola.
- Enron – At one time a well respected energy and commodities company. They built a brand that was mostly trusted until they imploded. Now they are forever associated with destroying the lives of countless people who lost their life savings.
Your brand is everything when choosing a domain name. How you build your reputation around it and how people will view you are extremely important to your long term success. Getting people to remember you for the right reasons can mean the difference between becoming a Coca-Cola or an Enron.
Keep your name short, memorable and catchy. Also sometimes a short domain is not always the best choice. YYY.com is hard to brand compared to something like NameShark, Amazon, Coke, Pepsi and so many others. Give strong consideration to your choice.
Keywords in domain names
Earlier we mentioned that stuffing keywords into your name was not a good idea. This is still true, but sometimes you can choose a domain that ranks well even when it is keyword rich. There is a fine line between keyword stuffing and keyword rich. I know what a pain huh. These domains are considered discoverable domains and can be used to promote products such as web hosting. Take our domain name here are Lovemyhost. We use the word host in our name because that word is used a lot to search for website hosting. It is a discoverable keyword, but does not make our name keyword stuffed. Keyword stuffing would be something like webhostingdomains.com. While all are good keywords related to our industry, who is going to honestly trust this domain. Better yet how do you really brand it. Quite frankly it just sounds like a spam website and you will always be fighting that uphill battle no matter how many ads you use to make people trust you.
The fact of the matter is that you will be building your brand for a number of years. Those brands that ignite overnight such as Facebook just do not come along that often. For every Facebook there are thousands of JohnsStores out there. Choose something that can be built for long term success, because you will most likely not be the next Amazon or Facebook.