Choosing a domain name seems straightforward, but there are actually many things to consider before you register your business’s website. And while domain names usually aren’t terribly expensive, it can be a real hassle to try to reroute all of your webpages to a new address later on, should you change your mind. Instead, spend a little extra time up front brainstorming multiple domain name options. To guide you, here are some definite mistakes to avoid:
Choosing a Domain Name That Is Easily Confused With Another Brand
At best, you’ll receive an uptick in site hits from people who have simply typed the wrong address. At worst, you might be hit with a lawsuit, especially if the brand you’re being mistaken for has a big budget and thinks you’re stealing customers. For example, if you sell fence building materials, you might think “Wall Mart” is a clever business name. But trying to register wallmart.com might result in a cease-and-desist letter from the lawyers of Walmart. Play it safe and make sure to choose a domain name that is quite unique.
Matching Another Domain Name But Using a Different gTLD
Let’s say you already have a great domain name picked out. The only problem is that someone else has beaten you to the punch, and the .com generic top-level domain (gTLD) is already registered. That’s okay because you can just choose to register as a .net business or use any number of other gTLDs, right? Wrong … for the same reasons as Mistake #1, this is a bad idea, but you’ll also be positioning yourself in the shadow of another business. It could hinder your marketing efforts if you have to keep reiterating that your business is the .net version, not the .com one.
Using a Domain Name That Is Difficult to Pronounce or to Spell
When you network with others face-to-face, you want to be able to casually throw out the name of your website and have it stick in the recipient’s mind. You don’t want to have to stop and laboriously explain how the domain is spelled or make it difficult to pronounce. For best results, choose a domain with words that are spelled how they sound and sound how they look.
Making the Domain Too Long
The longer the domain name, the more forgettable it is. There is also a greater likelihood of people making a typo when entering the URL into the address bar. Keep your domain name short and sweet.
Using Numbers or Dashes
This goes back to Mistake #3. Numbers or dashes make it more complicated to communicate your domain name out loud. Imagine you have a radio ad. How would the announcer tell listeners the correct way to write ready2go.com? It would take extra time to clarify how to spell the domain name, and in a radio ad, time is money. Save yourself from future headaches and forgo numbers and dashes altogether.
Matching the Business Name Exactly
A common misconception is that your domain name should be the same as your business name. But this isn’t necessarily true. You might opt to use different keywords in the domain name, or you might use a shortened version of your business name. Either way, you don’t need to limit yourself to your business name. Spend some time thinking of alternatives. You might be pleasantly surprised! Think of it as a chance to build a second brand name for yourself, so if there’s anything that you don’t really like about your business name, now is your opportunity to change it. You can use a domain name tool to help you come up with different keyword combinations.
Using a Vague Name
Your domain name should instantly give people an idea of what services or products you provide. For example, consider the domain name davesdogs.com. What do you suppose this business provides to its customers? Pretty much all we know for certain is that a guy named Dave is involved, and he does something with dogs. Does he sell them? Groom them? Train them? We don’t know. Davethedogtrainer.com or dogtrainerdave.com both provide much-needed clarity.
Getting a Little Too Creative
This point also harkens back to mistake #3. An easy-to-spell and easy-to-pronounce domain name is so important that it bears repeating. Sites like Tumblr and Flickr are part of a larger trend in creative spellings. The success of these sites should be taken with a grain of salt. If you also want to drop letters from your domain name, you won’t stand out from the crowd … you will simply make it a little more difficult for people to find your website. And the last thing you want to do is to frustrate your customers right off the bat.
Finally, a bonus tip: be careful not to accidentally create an embarrassing domain name for your company! Good luck with your brainstorming efforts. Take your time and you’re sure to be happy with the final result.