How to Choose a Domain Name
A domain name is your www.yourcompany.com. Choosing your domain name is probably the biggest and most important decision that you’ll make regarding your website. Other areas of your website like the content, style, layout and hosting can always be changed at a later date without much impact. However if months or years down the line you decide that you chose the wrong domain, it can have far reaching consequences. These include:
- People suddenly not recognising your brand
- Business cards – you’ll need new ones and what about the old ones that are out there already? They’ll now be incorrect.
- Email address – your customers already know the email address for your current domain and it’s probably in their address book. Does a new domain name mean a new email address?
- People might not be able to find your site if they’re typing in the old domain name or have bookmarked it.
There are solutions to all the above if you decide to change your domain name down the line, but the best solution is to make sure that you choose the best domain name in the first instance.
How to Choose a Good Domain Name
So what constitutes a good domain name? It really depends on your business, but there are a few rules of thumb.
Keep it short. You want people to remember it and be able to type it into the browser so don’t make it 6 words long
Your business name is also ideally also your domain name. An example of when this might not be the case is if you have a very long business name and you might want to shorten it. For example, if your business is called The Fernandez Partnership this is rather long so you might want to shorten it to www.tfp.co.uk/com.
Don’t have weird spellings. There is a fine line with this one. There are many businesses now that add/change/remove letters in a normal word in order to create their business name, for example Fiverr, Worthyy, Editorr etc. Some of these do work well (although I’m not a fan of the double y) and you have much more a chance of your domain name being available. However I think this needs to be done with care.
Easy to Spell. It’s best to steer clear of domain names that you need to spell out or that can be misspelt. A local company uses their family name as the business name which is a lovely idea. However it’s a tricky one to spell so when they advertise on the local radio they have to spell out the domain name.
What Top Level Domain (TLD) should I use?
If you are in the UK then I would always advise that you buy a .co.uk or a .com. Ideally you would buy both as for a small annual investment it means that nobody else can be competing with you with the same domain name.
What if the .co.uk or .com aren’t available?
If these aren’t available, then I would recommend choosing another domain. Google have stated the TLD has no affect on how well your website ranks but in my own experience (and the same opinion is widely expressed in web design groups I’m a member of) this isn’t true. If you google anything and look at the first page, then you will see that on the whole that it contains only .co.uk (if you’re in the UK, otherwise it will be your country’s TLD for example .ie for Ireland) and .com results. As an example, a client had already bought a .biz before she came to me. Her site just didn’t rank in Google. I suggested that she buy another domain name and years later she finally decided to do so. I recommended a few good domain names to choose and within weeks of the site going live on the new domain she was ranking number one in Google for her main keyword and had started to rank for other keywords also. The website with the .biz had been live for years and never ranked. This one change that costs £15 a year has completely changed her rankings.
Just as a note about this. Google do categorically state the TLD makes no difference to your rankings. The above shows that this isn’t the case and there are thousands of similar stories out there. However, things might change in the future and maybe your TLD won’t matter. My guess at the moment is that Google have to say this, otherwise domain registrars would never be able to sell their .biz, .info, .net domains etc
How do I know if the domain name is available?
There are various place to check. I use www.who.is
Where should I buy the domain?
I have been using www.gandi.net for domains for 10 years. They are reliable and offer 2 free email addresses with plenty of storage and any additional email addresses/storage are well priced. If you aren’t a developer, then you might not like them as their support isn’t the fastest and you need to call France to speak to them. However in 10 years I’ve only had the need to call them twice.
If you are buying the domain yourself and you want to have support in the UK then there are plenty of companies to choose from. However do be aware of extra costs. Companies that you see advertising such as GoDaddy, 123-Reg etc entice people in with a cheaper domain but then charge a whacking great fee for email. Check how much it’s going to cost to have an email address and also make sure that you have full access to the DNS settings, as your developer will need this to point your domain to your website. If you are buying a domain and don’t intend to ever use the email, then by all means just opt for the cheapest domain registration that you can find.
Is there anything to help choose a domain?
If you Google “domain name generator” you’ll find several. Some are much better than others so don’t stick with the first one you find if you don’t like it. I haven’t found any that check if the .co.uk is available but the chances are that if the .com is available then the .co.uk is available too.
Best of luck and I hope that you find your perfect domain.
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