A website’s domain name (commonly referred to as a “website address” or “URL”) is an essential part of building your online reputation. Choosing the right domain name for your website is the initial step in building online trust and trustworthiness. Don’t forget to carefully select your domain name because it’s where your business will be for the remainder of its operational life. Here are a few important things to keep in mind before selecting your domain name:
Choosing Your Domain Extension
A domain extension, also known as a top level domain, is simply an extension that is added on top of your website’s address (e.g. (.com),.net,.org, etc.). Most internet users are already familiar with the “ ".com” extension and will use it by default when entering an address in their browser. The “.com” extension should always be your first option in case your customers forget your address is “.NET” and go to your competitor’s “.COM” by mistake. The “.com” extension gives your site the most authority in your customers’ minds.
If your business only serves local communities, then a country specific domain, such as the.ca extension, makes perfect sense. A country specific domain will benefit you in two main ways: Your customers and search engines like Google will recognize that your website is owned by a Canadian and that your business is based in Canada. Your potential customers will feel more confident knowing that they’re dealing with a Canadian business, rather than a U.S.-based business pretending to be Canadian. Search engines will also give your website a higher ranking when a user is doing a Canadian-specific search.
If possible, I suggest my clients register both the “com” and “ca” extensions. This way, if you have a Canadian based website, you can use the ".ca” extension while also making sure they get to your site if they accidentally enter the ".com” extension into their browser.
Using Your Business Name
Your business name should be the first thing that comes to mind for any domain name. This way, your customers will remember the address of your website. You can’t expect your customers to memorize a phrase that only refers to your business.
Choosing Choice Keywords
Adding keywords to your website address will improve your ranking on popular search engines like Google and Yahoo. The best thing to do is pick a keyword you think your customers will search for. A SEO professional like Cost Effective Design will help you pick your keywords. This type of domain name is used when the client doesn’t want to use your business name, because it’s already registered by someone else, or because the business name is too long. If you’re serious about getting traffic from search engines, you’ll want to get a domain name that includes a keyword, along with your business name.
Don't Confuse Your Customers
Avoid domain names that contain: 2 for “To” or “4” for “For”, or u for “You.” These make your domain seem “cool” and “hip”, but they’re not. They’re a problem when you’re trying to direct clients to your site, whether you’re speaking to them on the phone or in person. For example, if your domain name was “UsedCars.U.com”, you’d need to specify that every time you spoke to someone over the phone to direct them to your site, the URL would use the real number 4 and the letter U.
To Use, Or Not to Use Hyphens
With more and more businesses registering domain names each day, getting the right website address you need is getting harder and harder. Most domain names are already registered with one or two word URLs, so new registrants are forced to choose URLs with three or four word URLs. Some people think these URLs look like a jumble of words. By inserting hyphens between the words, you can make them look more attractive. For example, “ www.used-cars for-you.com” looks better than “www.usedcarsfor-ou.com”. What’s wrong with a hyphenated domain name? We’re still in the early stages of hyphenating a domain name. The good news is that it looks better and it’s easier for search engines to distinguish the separate keywords, which means better search placements. The bad news is that it’s hard to communicate and type with hyphens. To avoid confusion, the best solution is to register both hyphenated and unhyphenated versions of the domain name.
Domain Name Length
Even though you can use 67 characters for your domain name, the rule of thumb is “short” rather than “long”. In some cases, the website address is more memorable if it’s more descriptive. For example, a domain consisting of just initials, like “www. waa.com”, won’t leave a lasting impression on your customers. On the other hand, a domain name consisting of only initials, such as “www. windsorautoassociation”, will leave a lasting impression. So, it’s important to pick a domain name that’s short but contains enough description so your customers can easily remember it.
Buying an Existing Domain Name
The domain name you’re looking for may already be registered either by a reputable company or by a “domain squatter” who registered the domain name with the intention of reselling it at a later time for a profit. These types of domains can be offered for sale, but they can cost several hundred dollars or even thousands. Buying an old domain name has several benefits. Not only do you get the domain you’ve been searching for, but it may rank highly in search engines for specific keywords and/or generate topic-specific traffic that benefits your business.