What Makes a Good Domain Name?

An amazing idea needs the right home!

Maybe it’s a business, a blog, a dream, a combination of all those things or none. Websites can be everything from a simple online business card to a fully functional online store. These days a website can be almost anything that you can think of and every website needs the right domain name.

Often when we start talking about websites people jump straight to what it should look like. There’s no denying that the visual layout and function of a website is critical to it’s success but let’s think about things in order. Sure, your website might be slick and on-point but how do people get there? The right domain name helps your website be found and be memorable.

I’m sure we’ve all seen web addresses that are so long that they become an almost meaningless string of letters. It might be the most amazing website in the world but www.themostamazingwebsiteintheworld.com definitely isn’t the most amazing domain!

So what does a great domain look like?

Three things generally hold true when selecting a domain name – it should be easy to remember, easy to spell and it should be easy to tell someone about it. Sounds easy, right? Given that over 1.8 billion websites exist on the internet it’s never quite that simple to find the right home for your website but with persistence you’ll find exactly the right thing.

A good domain name will also represent your business or idea. It may contain key words about your websites purpose or it may simply be your business name. It’s probably a .com and it should be easy to communicate to your customers.

 

When is the wrong thing right?

A lot of tech people will tell you that there are hard and fast rules for domain names. No nonsense words. No numbers. 10-15 characters long. In many situations this is true but it is worth remembering that your website is part of your overall brand.

Take Google.com as an example. A perfectly nonsensical word that has now morphed into a commonly used verb with almost global understanding. Pretty good for a theoretically bad domain name, right?

We recently posted a list of stage one suggestions for choosing your domain and you won’t find anything fancy there – just a couple of the more important things to think about. It is essentially a five point list telling you not to make life hard for yourself, or your clients, customers and fans.

To those of you who had the perfect domain chosen and then read fifteen different lists that give you twenty different ways in which your domain was wrong – don’t give up.

Will it communicate what you want to those you are targeting?

Can it be understood by those on the outskirts of your target market?

Is it so long that you need a second line for it in any word editing program?

If you can answer ‘Yes’ to the first two and ‘No’ to the last then chances are you’re on the right path. If you think it’s right then you’re definitely on the right path. You are the one who will make this work so you might as well start where you want to be!

I think I’ve made a choice – what now??

The first question is: Is it available? Try our domain checker to see if your chosen domain is available and with what extensions.

And then?? Research!

A good place to start is whether that name or something similar is already in use across any platform including social media, advertising, or websites with other top level domains (eg. ‘.com’,’.org’,’.net’). Research your online competitors; not just in terms of similar product or target market but also anyone who might be competing for similar search terms.

Brainstorm all the keywords that you think should bring people to your door and also your competitors door. Also start thinking about what you need your website to do – not what it looks like. Your website is there to perform a function but first you need to know exactly what that function is.

Online tools such as Answer The Public and Google Trends provide interesting insight into what is being searched for and read about online currently. Google’s Keyword Planner also provides some very useful information about search terms and their popularity – you do need a Google Adwords account to access this as its original purpose was to help with paid campaigns. A Google Adwords account is free to register but, as you’d expect, any ad campaigns come with a cost.

Check out our ongoing series on getting started with your online dream.

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