Like any brand name, logo, or trademark, your domain name represents part of your business identity. Customers will associate it with your particular product, service, company and so on, if you name it correctly. Remember that your domain name will probably be used for several purposes, including your web site, email address, and possibly an ftp or other server. It will be an integral part of your marketing campaign.
If your domain name can be easily remembered then you will attract more customers. People will use your web site or email address to get immediate and convenient access to the information or service that you are providing.
Domain names are portable. You can move physical address, change phone numbers, change Internet service providers, change the company that hosts your web site, and still keep the same domain name. This provides an extremely flexible method of keeping in touch with your customers and users.
With these points in mind we present here 14 tips for choosing domain names.
- DO know the domain name format. Domain names can generally be up to 67 characters long (including the extension), and contain two or more of the characters a-z, 0-9 and '-' (hyphen). Some domain names must be a minimum of 3 characters (not including the extension). Domain names cannot start or end with '-' (hyphen). Domain names are not case sensitive, therefore DomainName.com and domainname.com and DoMaInNaMe.com are all equivalent. You can now also register multi-lingual domain names.
- DO know your target audience. Choose domain names that are appropriate for them. Depending on who you are targeting this could mean choosing names that sound sincere, cool, current, active, professional, or that use key words from the industry for example.
- DO keep domain names short and simple. Generally, the shorter the domain name the easier it is to remember or write down, and the less chance of users noting and remembering it incorrectly. Restrict the domain name to one, two or three words at most. (The one exception to this is the next tip). All other things being equal, give preference to words with fewer syllables and words that are easy to pronounce. Short is good, but don't use difficult to remember acronyms, such as qmxf.
- DO register a long domain name containing a list of relevant words for your web site to achieve a higher ranking in some search engines. Several of the major search engines rank web sites much higher if the search terms are contained in the domain name. You can use up to 63 characters to create a long domain name with keywords and automatically redirect visitors to the real web site. Some registrars offer the redirect service as standard in their price.
- DO use the appropriate pluralization. For example, newhomes.com is probably better than newhome.com if the web site is not relating to "a" particular home. If in doubt you can register both domain names.
- DO use words that can be visualized. Vision is the strongest of human senses. Even better, use words that involve several of the 5 senses. This usually involves choosing more common nouns (names or objects), verbs (actions), and adjectives (descriptions). For example, the word "fire" is easily imagined. It includes strong cues in four of the five senses - visual (red and yellow flames), auditory (crackling and other noises), feeling (heat), and smell (smoke).
- DO plan for the future. If you are planning on releasing other products or services from this domain name in the future then don't limit the relevance to the initial product or service. That being said Internet marketing experts believe that your web site should have only one subject or focus. All products or services listed on the web site should be related. A web site with a broad focus is not as appealing to someone who is looking for particular information.
- DO use a domain name search program such as Mozzle Domain Name Pro to generate and check your domain names. There are some great free and free to try programs available, and several include advanced word and character combinations and other features far beyond those that web based services provide. For example, Mozzle Domain Name Pro contains an automatic thesaurus, acronyms, alternative domain name spellings, trademark searches, a pattern search and so on. These tools can save you many hours of time.
- DO register the domain name in the correct global or country level domain. For universal appeal use a .com, .info, .biz, .org, or .net domain. For local appeal use an appropriate domain in your country, such as .co.uk or .org.au. Note that many domains have restrictions on what domain names can be registered. In some domains you can only use a name that is derived from a registered business or organization name.
- DO check that you are not infringing on an existing trademark or other name that rightfully belongs to another company or individual. An available domain name does not necessarily give you the right to register and use it.
- DON'T use hyphens between words if possible. A domain name with hyphens is harder to describe when said aloud. It is commonly accepted that a domain name with multiple words does not include hyphens. An exception to this rule is when choosing a domain name that has many words or words that are hard to decipher. Consider using capitalization when displaying the domain name in marketing material instead. For example, SuperBaitAndTackle.com is easier to read than superbaitandtackle.com.
- DON'T use confusing spelling. If your domain is targeted at a worldwide audience then stay away from words that are spelt differently throughout the world, such as words ending in ize(US)/ise(UK). This also applies to many words that have different meanings throughout the world. Some common English words are even offensive in other languages.
- DON'T choose domain names that are very similar to others if possible. After all, you want customers coming to you, not your competitors! An exception to this rule is if you register the domain name of a commonly misspelt word, in the hope of catching additional customers, provided that you are not infringing on any trademarks.
- DON'T choose domain names with words that join to form unintentional words such as "Jeans Wearing" which can read "Jean Swearing". Avoid them altogether or use captialization in marketing material (JeansWearing.com) or hyphens in the domain name (jeans-wearing.com) to separate the words if really necessary.