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21 May
Choosing the Right Domain Name

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On May - 21 - 2010

There is a lot more to consider when choosing a domain name than once might think at first glance. Once you build your website, publish your domain name on collateral material and optimize it for search engines, you are somewhat committed… so better make a good choice up-front.

In general, here are my rules of thumb:

Shorter is better than longer:

Obviously shorter domains are easier to type, and in most cases are easier to remember. The problem is that almost all the good short domains have already been taken. You may have to get creative, or go to a new extension (Dot Net or Dot Biz, etc.). Shorter is definitely desirable, but not at the expense of some other considerations (read on…)

Easy to spell:

Face it, some words are just commonly misspelled… consistently. I would never recommend taking on a purposely misspelled domain name as your primary, but you do need to weigh the ease of spelling vs. the targeted nature of the words in your domain. The worst case scenario is if the common misspelled name is that of your competition.

Avoid special Characters:

Dashes, underscores and dots are all easily missed. More than likely you are resorting to special characters because the versions without all those dots and dashes have already been taken.

No Acronyms:

Unless you’re already a brand name…or trying to establish one, don’t expect people to remember that is the domain for the “Southern California Veterinary Medical Association.” OK… that is a tough one, but if possible go with something longer that is memorable an easy to spell before you try to make someone remember SCVMA…

“Dot Com” trumps “Dot everything else”… most times

Dot Com is the granddaddy of all domains. If you have a good “Dot Com” most people will give you credit for being around a while… or at least being the original. There is no shame in going to a different domain extension, but see what you can do with a “dot Com” first. The exceptions are a “Dot Org” if you are indeed an organization. Or “Dot Info” if you want to be perceived as a source for information and not commerce. Don’t knock yourself our trying to force-feed yourself into a leftover “Dot Com” if it doesn’t make sense… Just take a look first.

Easy to remember:

Sometimes even short domains are not easy to remember. Acronyms can be very hard; meaningless words or easily confused names can be a challenge as well. This becomes a factor when trying to leverage word of mouth advertising (one friend telling another) or collateral advertising that requires the target audience to visit the site after the fact (such as radio advertising, of billboard advertising).

It’s not particularly relevant if someone is clicking on a link, but if they have to remember your domain name or spell it… they better be able to remember it.

Use Keywords:

Search Engines assume that if there is a keyword in your domain name, that your website must be relevant for that word. If possible, use a word or words that are appropriate for you to show up for on the search engines as part of your domain.

One more tip: When publishing your domain use a technique called “stemming.” That is; instead of, publish it as so that human beings can actually make sense of it whenever they see it. That will make it easier for them to read it and memorize it.

None of these rules are absolute. The best alternatives available might require you to break a rule or two. Just consider that you are probably going to have to live with your domain name for a long time… so make a good decision.

To learn more about how your website can achieve its full potential, WSI Digital  Marketing Consultants are well versed in website design best practices and can answer any questions you may have.

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About the author: Chuck Bankoff
Chuck Bankoff is a WSI Certified Research Analyst, and has certified other WSI Consultants around the world in Landing Page Design and more

  • Techwatch

    on topic domains are very helpful as well of course as memorable ones

  • WSI Digital Marketing

    Absolutely! On-topic and memorable domain names are an easy way to stay relevant and keep top-of-mind with your visitors/ customers!

  • Andy @ FirstFound

    Great post Chuck! It helps to have something memorable too.

  • Andy @ FirstFound

    Great post Chuck! It helps to have something memorable too.

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