The Domain Name Game. How to choose one for your business, and what to do if the one you want is taken (or expensive).
What’s In a Name?
You have a name for your business – you love your name and your customers know it, or maybe this is a new business that you have (finally) found the right name for BUT you’re a bit stuck – the domain names are either already taken or have been purchased for sale by someone else and have a very high price tag.
What do you do? You don’t want to change the name of your business and you don’t want to pay over the top for what should be a relatively cheap thing to buy – your domain name for your website.
The question is: Do your domain name and business name have to match?
The answer is: No, they don’t.
Here are some tips to help you pick a domain name that works for your business, saves you splashing out cash on a domain being sold by someone else, and keeps you out of trademark trouble whilst still being easy to find in search.
It’s a good idea to check if the name is being used on social media also as preferably, you want it all to match.
- Keep it Short
The initial temptation and options offered by domain registrars is to add something to the end of your business name to find the right domain name, but look at some short versions first. 7 characters or less work best. The characters allowed in a domain name include letters (abc), numbers (123), and hyphens. No spaces are allowed, and the domain name can’t begin or end with hyphen. Generally, avoid using hyphens if you can. Try initials or removing unnecessary words but don’t sweat it if you can’t get under 7 characters – just shorter is better.
- Create a Brand
If it works for your business create a brand that is not a dictionary word like Expedia and use that. I’ve created several businesses/brands/websites this way – you can’t beat an original idea!
- .com, .uk and .co.uk and others
Whatever comes after your ‘dot’ is known as the Top-Level Domain or TLD. Although originally associated with the US, .com really denotes a global or deliverable anywhere business. If you are a local business, you could choose a .com but you may find a .co.uk or .uk more suitable. When the .uk TLD came into use owners of the .co.uk version were given the option to buy the .uk version. Not everyone took up the option so you may be able to get the .uk even if the .co.uk is taken. However, proceed very carefully and check who is using the .co.uk because if they have trademarks, you could find a legal letter in your inbox. If choosing .co.uk or .uk, right now I would recommend buying both. You can read my article about .co.uk and .uk Domains here.
New domain name extensions are being released all the time such as .design, .guru, .beer, .cloud, .property, .data, .club, .events, .estate and more. These give the opportunity to play around with your domain name and ideas to find something that fits. You can see the complete list of available extensions on the Names website under Domains/New Domain Names .
- Avoid creative spellings
Yes, some big brands like Flickr can get away with this but why make things difficult? Also avoid anything you need to spell out. Not only will it get tedious having to constantly tell people but with the rise of voice search such as Siri and Alexa – they’re not going to find you.
- SEO and Domain Names
It is much less significant these days to have keywords in your domain name, in fact it really doesn’t matter at all – Amazon, eBay, YouTube don’t need it and neither do you! If you are obsessing about having an important keyword in your domain name – take it out! Providing your content is good and relevant, that is what the search engines are interested in.
- Have a Re-Think
If you are still not getting anywhere then you may need to consider adding something, or re-ordering the words, or modifying in some other way. I love the free online tool Domain Name Soup for this – it has a selection of tools to mix about and mangle your desired domain name for ideas. Careful though – it’s one of those sites you can get lost in for hours!
- Be careful to check that your domain name doesn’t spell something rude or inappropriate – ask the owners of businesses Pen Island, Experts Exchange and Who Represents about that!
- Be careful about trademark infringement – check who owns other TLD’s for the domain name you want to use if you have any doubts or suspicions, pick something else where you can buy the most important domain TLD versions.
- domainr.com is another useful tool to help you find a trouble free, unique and memorable domain name.
If you’re struggling with naming your website domain, need some clarity on how to make your business more profitable online or have a digital road bump, get in touch with me at [email protected], via Social Media, messenger or just give me a call!
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