How To Pick A Great Domain Name

Top tips on how to pick the perfect domain name for your business.

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Matt Anderson's Take

Size Matters

Size is the number one rule of picking a good domain name and you want to keep it as short as possible. BobsHouseOfPickledBeetsAndMore.com is not a good name. The fewer letters you can use the better off your are. This isn't easy but short is better than long here.

Easy To Type, Spell, & Pronounce

Look, people are idiots. We all are. And we seem to be getting dumber by the day as we rely on digital devices to spell and grammar check for us. Use a domain name that is easy to spell and type. For example, BobsXylophoneShoppe.com is a bad example of a domain name. First off, most people probably can't spell xylophone correctly.

Second, the use of fancy words like "shoppe" instead of "shop" is a typing mistake waiting to happen. On a similar note, avoid using words that have different spellings. For example, "gray" and "grey" are confused as are "color" and "colour" depending on where you live. If you must use one of these words then buy both versions of the domain name and forward one to the other.

Don't Be Clever

Some sites can get away being clever in how they spell their domain. Flickr.com and Fiverr.com come to mind. Those are two stupid website names simply because of their bad spelling choices. But they had a lot of investment money to get recognition and you probably don't. Example, if you're a site that specializes in Woodturnings don't use a horrible name like WoodTurningz.com because "z" doesn't sound like "s" even if you want it to.

Avoid Double Letters

Avoid using a domain where you have the same letter back to back over two words. For example, BobsSuperShop.com is not a good choice because it has an "s" at the end of Bobs and an "s" at the beginning of "Super". This will be confusing to people for sure and you'll lose traffic to typos.

Brandable Is Better

Years ago simple domains names like Pizza.com sold for millions of dollars. That sounds like a great name but when was the last time you ordered a pizza online by going to Pizza.com? Never of course. But you probably do remember brand names like PizzaHut.com. Your business is as much about building your brand as it is your product or service and your domain should reflect that. This is why we're all buying from Amazon.com and not Books.com.

Keywords

Whenever possible, use relevant keywords in your domain name. LookIntoHawaii.com is a good example of using a keyword like "Hawaii" in the domain name along with "Look Into" which describes that it's a site about Hawaii information.

Skip Numbers, Characters, & The

Adding numbers to a domain name can be very confusing. If you told somebody your website was Pizza 4 All Dot Com would they type "Pizza4All.com"? Nope, they'd type in "PizzaForAll.com".

There are some exceptions to this. For example, I used to run a site called "The3dStudio.com" and because it was a site dealing with 3D we didn't really run into many issues of people typing in "Three D". Still, avoiding numbers completely is your best route. Using this same example of "The3dStudio.com" I can tell you to skip using "The" in your domain name. That is also a recipe for confusion. Facebook found this out as well early when when they were called TheFacebook.com (and Sean Parker, of Napster fame, suggested they drop "the" from the name). Worked out okay for them.

A huge mistake many people make is adding a hyphen / dash in their domain name. This is always a huge mistake. Never add any special characters to your domain name, just stick with letter only.

Research

Research your domain name and be 100% sure you are not violating any known copyrights or trademarks. McDonaldsBurgers.com probably isn't a good choice for a burger restaurant, nor is CokeBrandSodaPop.com if you're getting into the sugary beverage game.

Think Long Term

Think about what you want your business to be and don't corner yourself into an ultra specific domain name. Maybe you're selling cat soap now and think JustCatSoaps.com is a good name. But next year you may sell dog soap as well. Or maybe you'll expand into the human soap category. Plan ahead and think long term when picking out a domain. You want to to do this one and never again.

Dot Com

There is one and only one domain name extension you care about and that's a .com extension. Sure, it's good to buy the .net and .org versions as well (and forward them to your .com) but you only really care about the .com. Don't get a .co or a .us or a .name or any other silly extension. People know .com and that's why you want it. Period. End of story. No exceptions when it comes to a for profit business website.
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