I got domains running around my brain
Choosing the right domain for your business can often be a process of procrastination and uncertainty. Perhaps quite rightly because selecting the ideal domain can be instrumental in the success or failure of your venture. Choosing a domain name is something every commercial website owner needs to get right so where to begin?
.com or .co.uk?
We generally stick with .com, .co.uk (and in rare cases, .org or .net), when recommended top level domains to clients. The general consensus is that the classic .com domain should be preferred to a .co.uk as it is the most internationally recognised top level domain and is used by around 47% of all websites.
Having said that, if your business is targeting a UK customer base then your customers may feel more at ease dealing with a UK-based ‘local’ company rather than a global player.
For instance, a .co.uk domain may be preferential for tradespeople or businesses (plumbers, restaurants, physiotherapists, etc) that serve local areas or for companies selling in a local area (estate agents, florists, caterers). If you are UK-based and serving an exclusively local market then a .co.uk can be a viable alternative if the .com domain is already registered overseas by an equally local business (a quick scan of the .com website should determine this). And a .co.uk is half the annual renewal price of a .com.
By and large though, avoid any of the other top level domains such as .co, .biz, .website, etc; these domains are often considered spam and may be considered untrustworthy by your customer base. And don’t be persuaded to scoop up other domain extensions to your domain name as the list of variations is almost endless and, in actuality, pointless.
Generally if the .com and the .co.uk are both available, register both and point one domain to the other.
Keep it short, simple and predictable
Wherever possible keep your domain as short as possible. This will help with making your brand more memorable and the fewer characters your domain has, the easier it will be to type, say, and share.
Ideal domains should:
- Be no more than 15 characters and avoid complicated words.
- Avoid hyphens, underscores or other punctuation.
- Consist of only letters and avoid numbers (unless it’s part of your brand name).
- Avoid unpredictable spellings (people will consistently spell ‘bykefix.com’ as ‘bikefix.com’ and may even get a competitor’s website).
It might be difficult to find a single word domain that’s related to your business but a combination of two or three shorter words can be effective.
Your domain name should be viewed as more important than your actual business name, since this is how your digital presence will be presented. If you haven’t yet launched your business but can’t find a domain to match your business name then consider changing your business name to match a domain that’s available.
Brand or business?
Decide whether you want your website’s name to describe your business, or to create a brand. Do you want potential customers to know what your business does by its domain name or do you want to create a one-of-a-kind company and brand identity? More often, a mix of the two is ideal.
If you are choosing a domain name to create a ‘brand’, it’s likely you are making up a word, or using a word that has no clear association to your company’s products and services. This creates the challenge of potential customers not initially recognising your company’s business by its name but it can ultimately be very powerful in shaping your company’s identity. Names like Google, Yelp, Trivago and Zoopla are now household names but you would never know what their business was about by their name. And It wasn’t too long ago that ‘Amazon’ only made people think about the South American jungle.
Say what you see
Some of the most effective domain names clearly describe what a business does or what type of content a user will find on the website. Users of Booking.com, Dictionary.com and Sheds.com will have a good idea of what they are going to see when they visit. However finding an available one word descriptive domain is nigh on impossible these days so think about grouping multiple words together: TripAdvisor.com, AutoTrader.com or TechSavvyMom.com prove descriptive domain names don’t necessarily have to be short to be effective.
The main issue with picking a descriptive domain name is that it’s more difficult to create a brand identity around it. Customers may be able to tell what you’re selling, but they may not get a sense for who you are or how your company’s services differ from competitors. And descriptive domains can pigeonhole your company, making it difficult to expand your company’s products or services.
The best of both worlds
Sometimes the best domain incorporates elements of both schools of thought. Perhaps it is possible that you can think of a new brand name that also stimulates a mental image of your products or services, or one that uses some aspects of a descriptive domain naming strategy to create a new brand name.
Online photo sharing community Flickr.com is an example of a newly created brand with a name that makes users think of pictures, Groupon.com combines descriptive words ’group” and ‘coupon’ to create a new word and brand name and DropBox.com is a brand name that also describes the ubiquitous file hosting service.
Be famous not infamous
When they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, they’re probably not taking embarrassing domain names into account. Without spaces and hyphens, the domain name you choose shouldn’t make you an internet meme. Before you choose your domain and company name, bear these unintentional gaffes in mind:
Pen Island www.penisland.net
IT Scrap www.itscrap.com
Who Represents www.whorepresents.com
Experts Exchange www.expertsexchange.com
Speed of Art www.speedofart.com
We can all chuckle (principally because they’re not your businesses) but clearly, carefully reviewing your final selection before hitting the ‘Register’ button is always a good idea!
Don’t step on anyone’s toes
If you’re settled on a domain name then you need to spend some time looking into the association of your domain. The last thing you want is to register the perfect domain name, only to realise that it’s creating brand confusion or that you’re stepping on someone else’s trademark.
Double-check social media, too. You want to make sure any relevant social media handles are still available. This will help you build brand consistency and make it that much easier for your visitors to find your business on social media.
Internet searches are based on a algorithm of keywords and phrases when indexing sites and domains so consider taking advantage of this when choosing your domain name. Research keywords related to your business and use these in shaping your chosen name.
For example, an online butcher might name butcher, meat, smoked, cured, organic, friendly and service as descriptive keywords for its business. An appropriate name might then be OrganicMeat.com or TheFriendlyButcher.com. Either domain respects the fact that search engines work off of such keywords when indexing and fetching information for users while providing a description of what customers can expect in the process.
Posted: September 2nd 2018
Find out more
Tidal Studios offers a comprehensive domain registration and web hosting service. We can help and advise on domains, checking which domains are available and suggesting alternatives to help you choose the perfect URL. Whether it’s a .com or a .co.uk, we will register your domain on your behalf and make sure it’s automatically renewed each year for continual use.
Our web hosting packages are very competitive and we offer fully managed hosting services which include:
- Unlimited optimised SSD disk space
- Unlimited UK bandwidth
- Unlimited databases
- SSL certificate installed as standard
- Twin Weekly & monthly backups
- Software & security updates
- Email account setup and forwarding
If you would like to find out more, give us a ring on 07984 664860 0r drop us a quick message using the secure contact form.