There are almost 300 million registered domains in the world. This is a staggering number that represents the amount of digital noise your site is competing with. While choosing a domain name may seem as simple as putting your business name in the address bar, it is often not that easy. When deciding on your digital address, it is important to consider a number of factors.
Make it memorable. People like to browse online and ensuring your URL is the one they remember could be the difference between bringing them back or them choosing a more memorable competitor. People love names that are easy to share, type and remember—e.g. Amazon, Yahoo, Facebook, and countless other successful websites. Keeping it short will help your site be the one customers recall when they’re finished looking and want to make their purchase. A long domain name runs the risk of customers mistyping or misspelling it, so the shorter you can make it, the less likelihood there is of a mistake being made.
Keep it simple. It is important to avoid numbers and hyphens. These often offer no branding or SEO value and can be an indication of a spam site. This makes it difficult to earn links as your site will be under suspicion of not being genuine. Additionally, numbers in your URL run the risk of being misunderstood when the domain name is spoken and confusion can arise as to whether it is spelt or the numeral is used, i.e. five vs 5. It is also useful to avoid slang (‘u’ instead of ‘you’, swapping ‘s’ for ‘z’), as it can be confusing for customers and may prevent them from finding your site.
Be unique. Do your research and make sure the name you are considering isn’t trademarked or copyrighted, even in another country, as this can lead to legal problems. Equally, don’t choose a name that could be confused with a popular site. Even if it is done without the attempt to trade on the popularity of their brand, it will confuse customers and may negatively impact your traffic and brand reputation. On the flip side, it is recommended that you purchase domains that are similar to your business name and the domain that you choose as your main one. This is to prevent someone else purchasing them and making money from your hard work and customer misunderstandings. Generally, this is called “cybersquatting” and is not illegal.
Brand it. Branded domains are more credible and aid word-of-mouth-advertising. If your brand name isn’t available, is too close to an existing domain name, or doesn’t have the recognition to stand out on its own, consider building yours around meaningful words with mass appeal, such as ‘marketing.com’, ‘sailing.com’, etc. These can also be keywords—such as ‘sailingmelbourne.com’ or ‘melbournesailing.com’—which will help with your rankings on search engines.
The extension matters. The top-level domain or TLD, is the bit that occurs at the end of the domain, e.g. .com. Dot com is the most common extension, but there are many different types and variations available. If your business is a national one, and not international, opting for country-specific is more valuable and will rank higher on local based searches. This means choosing .com.au or .co.uk and giving your visitors instant understanding that they are at an Australian or UK-based website.
Striking the right balance is vital
The right domain name is a complex mix of branding and SEO. Choosing the most suitable one comes down to a trade-off between relying on your brand visibility and attempting to improve your search engine results in page rankings. Businesses like Kogan and Bunnings have no issue with simply using their company name as a domain because they have strong brand recognition, but what about a plumber in the suburbs? It might be more worthwhile to choose an SEO-geared domain name, such as northbrisbaneplumbing.com.au, rather than attempt to use the actual title of the business.