1. Choosing a name
You have three main option when choosing a domain name (also known as a URL):
1. Your actual name (suitable for artists, performers etc).
2. The name of your business
3. Keywords related to the subject of your website (www.websitedesignforartists.com)
All of these have pros and cons.
Your actual name – may sound an obvious choice, but it means that people can only find your site if they know your name already. You are unlikely to get many casual visitors unless you have a huge website with masses of content laden with keywords.
The name of your business – again, this may sound an obvious choice. But if you are a small business and your site is small, it’s likely that visitors an only find your site if they know your name already. Also, if you have a complicated business name, it will be difficult for people to remember your domain name.
Keywords related to the subject of your website – from a search engine point of view, this is the best choice as Google uses the domain name as one of the very many factors it takes into account when deciding which websites to display for any keyword search. The disadvantage is that domain names like this do nothing to enhance your ‘brand’ name.
2. Choose a name that is easy to remember
Generally your domain name should be easy to remember and easy to spell. There should also be one way to write the name too. For example 247.com could also be 24seven.com or twentyfourseven.com or twentyfour7.com. You can’t expect your vistors to remember which one is your site.
3. Choose a long or a short name?
Domain names can up to 67 characters in length. Short names are easy to remember, easy to type and less susceptible to mistakes. Unfortunately, most of the short, one word domain names have gone, so you may have to resort to a combination of letters that stand for your name – in which case they may not be so easy to remember.
Some people argue that long names commit to the human memory more easily. Long domain names that contain keywords also have the advantage in that they fare better in a number of search engines.
4. Should I choose a hyphenated domain name?
There are pros and cons for hyphenated names. The main disavantage is that hypens are easy to forget when typing a name. If you have to resort to hyphens, it’s quite likely that un-hyphenated version of the name alreay belongs to a competitor. So if a potential visitor is looking for your site, but forgets to type in the hypens, they will arrive at your competitor’s website rather than yours!
Hypenated names are also difficult to say verbally, so unless someone specifically says that there are hypens in the name, it’s likely that they will pass on your competitor’s website address. Enough said!
The advantage of hypenated names is that search engines can distinguish your keywords better and are therefore more search engine friendly – ie the search engines will look favourably on your site. Also, you may find tha the hyphenated version is the only version that you can get that matches your business name.
5. “The”, and “My” Forms of the Domain Name and Pleurals
If you preferred domain name has gone, you can append the name with ‘the’ or ‘my’ or choose a pleural version of the name. For example:
If you choose one of these versions, you should always promote your site as the full version of the name, otherwise people will forget to append the name when typing in the address and you could find that your visitors finish up on your competitor’s website.
6. CO.UK, COM, ORG, NET, which should you choose?
CO.UK names are best if you are aiming at a local UK market.
COM names are best if you are aiming at an international market
There are also many other endings (TLD) such as ORG, NET, BIZ. Some experts say that it is better to have a domain name of your choice even if it has one of the more obscure TLDs. This probably good advice if it is a non-country specfic domain name, but beware of domain names that are not related to your geographic market. If your domain name ends DE, it could put off people in the UK who generally prefer CO.UK domain names since it implies a British business..
4. The domain name I want has gone – what should I do?
Practically all of the short, one word domain names have gone, as have the most poplar keyword domain names. If your actual name or business name is quite common, it’s also likely that it will have gone too.
If you are very committed to a domain name, you might be able to find it for sale on one of the domain name reseller websites such as Sedo.com. But you may find that the price is high.
The cheaper alternative is to choose a domain name first, and then your business after your domain name.