The Importance of a Good Domain Name
The right domain name can genuinely make or break a business – well, an online business anyway. Domain names as you’re well aware are your address on the Internet. The right domain name can tell people what your business is about before eyes are ever laid on the content. They can even let the customer know if your site is worth bothering looking at at all such is the strength of the “right” domain name. Sure, design and content is important but whether your potential customer is finding out about your site via word of mouth, via the radio, via an offline advertisement or they’re clicking through from the likes of Google it’s your domain name that will be presented to them first. And perhaps a bit of a description of what your site is offering of course, but it’s your domain name which will stand out above all else.
The right domain will either put people off entirely or entice them in to come and find out more. In this article we’re going to run over some of the things that people need to consider when choosing a domain name for their business. This is by no means a complete list but it covers the basics. Who knows, perhaps there will be something you’ve not though of but hopefully not as changing domain names once you’re already setup can be quite tedious. Although several companies such as my web host have rebranded with great success! Anyway, let’s get started –
Geo or Global
One of the most importance decisions you can make with regards to your domain name is quite simply deciding on the geographic location you wish to target. Do you want to target visitors specifically in your locale or do you want to appeal to a broader more global audience? Take the UK for example. If you’re sole intention is to market your website to individuals based in the UK then you’d be most definitely better equipped with a .co.uk domain name. The UK population is used to seeing them and they rank extremely well in the UK search engines. However, using a .co.uk is going to hinder your websites performance in terms of traffic generation for any territory outside of the UK. So it’s an importance decision to make.
That isn’t to say that you won’t get any UK traffic for your UK business if you use a .com – lots of people do and have great success in doing so. But, it should be a consideration. Don’t make the mistake of building a site for a global audience but choosing a local domain just because it’s cheap or available when the .com isn’t.
Although these days there are so many domains available due to the sheer number of top level extensions in the market these days you should have no trouble finding something which suits.
Brandable or Keyword
This is another important decision and can probably be expanded upon to include business name rather than simply brandable. A brandable domain is something non-descriptive like Google.com or Yahoo.com where as a keyword would be something that describes what product or service you’re offering e.g. searchengine.com or usedcars.com etc. Both have their benefits and both can work for your business.
When choosing a brandable, you must make sure it’s short, clear, easy to remember and passes the tests I’ll outline below. For keyword domains, make sure you don’t find something too restrictive. For example, usedcars.com – great if you only sell used cars, but what if you want to sell motorbikes, vans, trucks etc? It’s not a good fit.
Keep in mind the costs also. Keyword domain names can be expensive due to the various benefits they bring with them in terms of traffic. Although admittedly these days it’s not so much of a factor.
Passing The Radio Test (word of mouth)
The radio test is one that must be applied to any domain name either brandable or keyword. It’s when the spoken word can be misinterpreted to be something else or a different spelling as the same word. For example, if someone said on the radio to visit chilly.co.uk – you might consider this to be chile.co.uk like the country or chilli.co.uk like the pepper. An easy mistake for someone to make and will undoubtedly lead to lost traffic and ultimately revenue.
Any domain name you choose needs to pass this test so where someone hears it either via word of mouth or on the radio etc than they know specifically what the word is, how to spell it and how to ultimately arrive at your site.
Make it Memorable
Any domain, regardless of type or extension needs to be memorable. People seldom bookmark sites anymore in any way shape or form. They either remember your site or they just search for whatever they searched for in the first place and hope you’ll be around in the same position etc. The more memorable you make your domain the more chance of repeat business you’ll have and in a world where you need to maximise every visitor to their maximum potential a memorable domain can go a long way to achieving that.
As you can see, there are a fair amount of things to consider when purchasing a domain name. More than just what the name itself is. If you can find something that fits all of the above then you’ll be well on your way to making your website a success.
One thing I will say is don’t get too hung up if you can find your first choice of domain name. Before even starting your search I’d suggest to make a shortlist of at least 5 possible options (or more if you’re good at coming up with them!) – There is nothing worst than seeing people put their brand on obscure domain extensions just because the .com or .co.uk is taken etc. In my opinion, a .com wins out every time – but what do I know!