How to choose a domain name for your website or blog
Choosing a domain name is like naming your newborn baby. You don’t want to give your baby a name that will raise eyebrows, or one that he/she will immediately abandon as soon as he gets out of the diapers. I have purposefully used this analogy to underscore the importance of a good domain name from the very onset of this hub. The following are some tips that you should put in mind before you settle on a domain name for your e-commerce store or your other type of website.
What are your products?
Remember you are trying to curve out a niche in your line of business. Since you will be entering an already flooded market, you need to ensure your domain name is descriptive enough of your products. In fact, if you have decided on a niche that has a lot of competition, you don’t necessarily need to have a domain that is the exact name of your business. If you settle on a name that has the search terms of the products you are selling, then your E-commerce store will get good ranking on the search engines because after the search engines visit and index your site, ranking will primarily be based on the search terms.
But don’t get me wrong. Focusing on the products is not always the right way of choosing the domain. Sometimes, it is better to use the business name especially if you have already been in existence for a while and you already have clients that know your business name. In such a situation, you will have to ensure you pay more attention to your search engine optimization during and even after the web design process.
The KISS principle
The KISS principle simply states, Keep It Simple Stupid. It works in many areas and yes, it works in choosing a domain as well. As a web designer, I have many times advised my clients against registering the domains they had in mind because they were too long. A short domain name has the main advantage that your visitors will easily remember it. If someone sees your URL on your business card, chances are he/she will remember it more easily as opposed to if your domain was too lengthy.
Thou shall not steal
There are many people who choose to register domains that look almost like other famous domains and hope they will get some free traffic when users mistype the URL. Even though I have not checked this, am dead sure there are domains like goggle.com, facebok.com, etc. While it’s true that people will often mistype the URL and end up on your page, it’s also true that they will not be foolish enough to remain long enough to buy your products or services. So you will have a lot of traffic but with a very high bounce rate- and what is the use of having many visitors to your E-commerce site if none of them is clicking the buy button?
Another mode of “stealing” is using other people’s domains. For instance, you might notice a competitor that has a .com domain but has not registered a .net domain so you go to register the .net domain. I wouldn’t advise on that. Domains are never bought - they are rented. So the fact that you register it doesn't necessarily mean that you have bought it. Your competitor may have copyrights to his company name and he might sue you for copyright infringement and that could mean a lot of trouble for you.
I know you might think am bluffing. So let me give you a good example. Everybody knows YouTube but few people know about utube. Sometime ago, YouTube faced a lawsuit that had nothing to do with videos - It was about their domain name. The issue was, before youtube.com was registered, there was already another company by the domain utube.com. This company sued YouTube claiming that their choice of a name that resembled their own had made them receive overwhelming traffic of people who were actually looking for YouTube... and I bet utube has brilliant lawyers because they sued immediately after Google had announced its acquisition of YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. Am sure there are many other such stories so you don't want to be a victim
Even after you have settled for a good domain name, I would suggest you double check your domain to make sure it doesn’t make any misleading information to your potential visitors. For instance, there is a company that deals with caller ID services. The company’s domain is WhoRings.com. Pretty descriptive of what they do, very short and easy to remember but the only problem is, capitalization doesn’t matter for URLs. That means that WhoRings.com is the same as whorings.com. Someone may just avoid clicking on such a link thinking all he will see are whores on the homepage.
Choose the right domain extension
Yes, I have I hub on why choosing a .com for your blog is a good idea. However, you need to know what your extension means and how it will be interpreted by your sites visitors. Here is a list of the most common extensions and how they are used.
.com – Means Company/commercial. Best extension for a commercial website
.org – Organization. If you are setting up an NGO, A church website etc, then this is the extension to use
.net- Means network. It was created for ISPs but it is used also by webhosting companies and other companies that offer such services.
.biz is used for small business web sites.
.info- means information. It is used for websites that provide information or resources.
Of course there are many other extensions like .gov, .mobi, .tv, .me, .us etc but the above are the most common
Last but definitely not least, you should try to avoid hyphens. Hyphens may work good for your search engines but not so for your human visitors. When you have hyphens in your domain name, your users will seldom remember them when typing them directly in the address bar. The downside is that they could get a "page not found error" or worse still, go to another website all together. If your desired domain has already been registered, then you can think of other ways of modifying the domain but I would not advise on hyphenating it. It would be better to register with another extension as long as it is still relevant.
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