One of the most important decisions in establishing an online presence is choosing a domain name. The right domain name for your website is important, for both your target audience and search engines. Ignore the trends and fads of the day and choose a name that makes sense for your business or subject matter now and will still make sense 10 years from now. Here are 10 tips to help you make a good domain name purchase.
The longer your domain name is, the harder it is for people to remember it and the more chance you have of someone misspelling one of the words. Most good single word domain names are long gone, but you can still avoid long domain names by getting a little creative. If you have a single word you really like that is not available, try adding an adjective or verb in front of it and seeing if those variations are available. Think of your domain name as part of your brand, and make sure it matches how you want people to think of you.
You should also avoid words that have more than one spelling if your visitors are likely to be confused and mistype the name. Alternately, you can buy both versions of the name and direct visitors from the one you like less to the preferred name. While you do want a short name (see below), don’t go for something so cryptic that people have a hard time remembering it. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool and you want to make it easy for people to tell their friends about your site.
If your purpose in buying a trademarked term as a domain name is to try to confuse people, you’re opening yourself up to having a complaint filed against you and having to give up the domain name. Even if you’re not trying to create confusion, you’re likely to face some legal challenges by buying trademarked terms in your domain name. To be safe, you can search for U.S. trademarks at www.uspto.gov and make sure no one owns a trademark on the name you are considering.
Make sure you always retain control of your domain name. There are hundreds of businesses hosting their websites with a web host they’re not happy with. Poor service, surprise invoices, unreliable uptime and email issues are just some of the common issues customers are facing today. What most of them want to do is vote with their feet and walk out the door and find another web hosting provider. They don’t go through with it, however, because moving all their domains to another host is a complete admin headache. Choose wisely from the get-go so you don’t become one of these customers.
Check to see if you get any email accounts. Many web hosting companies don’t include email or charge extra for it. In many cases, you can only get email forwarding. Even for straightforward POP3 email, some companies only offer 1 or 2 email accounts. You should make sure you get at least 15-20 POP3 email accounts included free of charge with your domain.
It's good to decide early on if you want to have a brand domain or a keyword domain. The benefit of a brand domain is that your domain will most likely be considered as trustworthy, and immediately shows visitors that it's linked to your business or personal blog. A keyword domain, on the other hand, has the advantage that it will be better optimized for search engines, and therefore will get higher search results. In recent years, however, the drastic improvement in search results thanks to a keyword domain has begun to decrease.
Many online shops have the number 24 in them, to signify 24 hours a day – you may also be able to integrate numbers into your domain in a meaningful way to make them unique. Be careful though, because many cultures attach a lot of significance to certain numbers. Make sure that your number doesn't represent bad luck or other negative things in the country you're operating in.