How to Pick the Right Domain Name

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Ready to create your website? That’s great, but first you need to decide where it will live. A domain name is really just a fancy way of saying “website address.” Selecting an effective domain name can be the difference between success and failure for your website. After all, if people can’t find it, they can’t purchase your products or services, so be sure you take the time to really think it through before you commit.

Brainstorm. In most cases, your company name is the obvious first choice, but maybe it’s too long or that domain name is already taken. Sit down and think of memorable keywords that describe your business to get started. Consider ways that you can shorten your company name as well.

Go dot-com. If someone is trying to remember your web address, they’re going to automatically assume it is “.com.” The exception is if you’re making a website for a non-profit for which you should register “.org — but even then, grab “.com” just in case.

Make sure it’s unique. Is there another website out there with a similar domain? Even if it’s a different field, this could be a problem. People might end up on that site instead of yours and simply give up.

Make it descriptive. When people hear your domain name, ideally they should immediately know what your company does. Websites like Hotmail, CareerBuilder, and WebMD have to put forth less effort informing potential customers what they’re about. While sites like Monster and Zillow need to spend time associating their URLs with the type of business they run.

Keep it short. And make it easy to spell. Spell cat with a “c” not a “k.” And avoid words that people frequently misspell. If you tell someone the URL in passing conversation, you want them to be able to remember it the next day and get it right.

Avoid hyphens and numbers. It’s easy to forget to type in a hyphen, and numbers just make things more confusing. Should that be spelled out or not? Remember, simpler is better.

Put it to the test. Tell someone the URL and see if they get it right. No? Move on to the next idea.

Visit Copyright.gov. Before you purchase, make sure you’re not stepping on anyone else’s copyright. Do a quick search before you make the purchase. You’ll avoid potential headaches in the future.

The idea is to make it as easy as possible for people to head over to your website. Anything that makes the process more complicated should be avoided. Use common sense, and get outside opinions. When it comes time to purchase, consider buying other similar domain name to ensure that no one buys one, poses as your company, and tries to bank on your success.