Choosing a great domain name is crucial for your business. Your domain name is the name of your website – or put another way, the address on the internet where visitors can find your website – e.g. www.themillcreek.net. It’s something that you need to get right the first time, as the process of switching to a different domain name can sometimes be complicated and frustrating.
But how exactly do you go about choosing the right domain name? Here's a simple guide to help you choose the perfect domain name to help your business or organization succeed:
Should you choose .com - .net - .org?
Perhaps the first thing that you need to consider when choosing your domain name is which domain name extension you are opting for.
The most commonly used extensions for US businesses are .com, .net, and .org ,but there are actually many options ranging from.biz and .me. All of these extensions have connotations, so it is important to choose one that is right for your business.
Ultimately, most organizations choose .com, .net, or .org, as these are the most common and the easiest to remember. At TheMillCreek.net, we recommend getting all three domain endings, if possible, in order to keep someone else getting the same domain name, but with a different extension.
However, many of these domains have already been registered, so you may find you need to opt for a different extension if you have a specific web address in mind. You might be surprised at just how many there are.
Make sure it’s simple
When it comes to domain names, simplicity is best. Your domain should be relatively short – interestingly, a study found that the average length of a domain name was 12 characters.
Domain names that are too long can be challenging to type, increasing the likelihood of someone making a mistake when typing in your website address. Ideally, your domain name should consist fundamentally of just one or two words.
Avoid trademark infringement
It's also crucial that you make sure your domain name won't be infringing any trademarks. If your website address is considered too similar to another company's, this could result in legal action against you.
Should you be found at fault, your website will have to be taken down while you decide on a new domain name - and potentially even a new name for your business. You'll then need to update all of your marketing materials with your new company information.
This will not only prove costly and time-consuming at the time, but your business could also suffer on a long-term scale due to all the website downtime.
If you have any concerns about your domain name infringing a trademark, it's worth seeking advice from a legal professional.
Ensure that you own your domain name
If you are working with a web design company to create your website, you should make sure that you will own the domain name you choose.
There are many horror stories out there where businesses have assumed that they own their domain name, only to find out that the domain was actually registered in the name of the website or marketing agency that set it up.
This could become a problem for you down the line if you ever want to move to another website provider, as you may find you face challenges in negotiating the ownership of your domain name.
Editor's note: At TheMillCreek.net, we register domain names via our name for the sole purpose of management - it's still your domain name. However, we're more than happy to register your domain in your name, so you own your website address from day one.
Things to avoid
There are certainly plenty of things that can be good practice for your domain name – but there are also plenty of things that you need to avoid.
Some of the things that your domain name probably shouldn’t include are:
Numbers – this just adds a layer of confusion. People who hear your address won’t know whether it is a numeral or a word. And this can be very easy to forget, making it harder for past visitors to find your site again.
Stuffed keywords – some businesses think it’s a great idea to include lots of keywords in their domain name. This is a mistake – not only does it make your website almost impossible to remember, it can also fall foul of Google’s algorithm, which has been increasingly combatting exact-match keyword domain names.
Do your research
Of course, it is important that you do your research into the domain name you are thinking of registering.
It may be the case that another very popular website has an extremely similar domain name which would obviously make your SEO and digital marketing efforts far more challenging.
Make sure that you are picking a name that you can work with into the future and that isn’t just a good idea for the short term.