Choosing a website domain name is one of the first big decisions you make about your site.
And it’s also one of the most important!
After all, your website domain will be part of a site’s brand for the long haul. Google associates your content, links, and ranking history with your domain name. There aren’t many ways to change it later on that won’t reduce your online visibility.
That’s why it’s crucial to make a winning choice!
A lot has changed in the world of website domains over the last few years. In addition to familiar .com, .net, and .org, there are dozens of other TLDs – top-level domains—you can choose. This makes it possible to grab names that might cost thousands as a .com address.
But how can you choose the right website domain for a site that might last for decades?
Here’s what to keep in mind
1. Start With Your Business Name
Most companies should stick as close as possible to their business name if they can. This makes it easier to gain brand recognition, since people can find your site as soon as they hear about you.
There are a few notable exceptions:
Your business name is very long – the shorter your domain name, the easier for users
Your business name is taken (usually by “domain squatters” who charge a hefty fee)
Your name on paper doesn’t reflect your brand or the services you want to promote
2. A Domain Name Should be Short, but Memorable
So, how short is short? As a rule of thumb, aim for 15 letters or less.
Balance brevity with the need to make your domain memorable. A great domain name clarifies what matters most about you, whether that’s your industry, your flagship product, or your values.
Resist the urge to go with made up words and hope they catch on in the future. That may work for Google, but for the average small or mid-sized firm, it won’t catch customers’ attention.
Start with .com, But Don’t Be Afraid to Explore
Research has shown no difference between .com domains and others when it comes to website performance or search engine rankings. While .com is more familiar, there’s no evidence .com sites have any advantage over the rest.
In fact, a novel TLD can be a fun branding strategy for the right business.
Consider these examples:
.world positions your website as a comprehensive resource in your field
.work is perfect for coaches of all kinds, especially in career development
.ninja is popular with hip, youthful brands focused on technology or Gen Z
If you find yourself choosing between a long, confusing .com and a friendlier name with another TLD, give the latter some thought, especially if you’d have to use dashes in your .com domain.
3. You Don’t Need Search Keywords in Your Domain
Years ago, it was common for marketers to make sites with targeted search keyword right in the domain name. A keyword is the specific word or phrase people type in when they’re searching for products, services, or information you can provide.
Long story short, this used to have a big impact on search results. Google has since downgraded it. It limits your brand and is a bad move for most companies.