If you want your business website to do well and be easy to find, you should build it for people and optimize it for search engines. You need to give the visitors something valuable or interesting if you want them to keep coming, and you need to follow search engines’ rules if you want those people to be able to find your website.
But if you want your website to be recognizable and easy to remember, you should start by picking a great domain name. The name you choose can your website a leg up in the world of online business, or it can cause trouble if you make a really bad choice. So read closely – here’s how you pick a domain name that will not cause the latter.
Keeping it Short and Simple
Think about the websites people tend to visit very often, like search engines, social networks, and e-commerce giants. You have Google, Bing, and Yahoo, then Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and Amazon and eBay. What do all of these websites have in common? Their domain names are short and easy to pronounce and spell.
Your domain name should follow suit. The general idea is to keep domain names as short as possible – you don’t want people to type in whole sentences when searching for your website. The longer your domain name is, and the more complicated it is to spell, the more likely your potential visitors are to mistype it. And using numbers and hyphens in the domain name only adds to the confusion.
Your domain name should alsobe easy to pronounce. People will say the name, and you don’t want the person hearing to ask “how do you spell that?”, at least not more than once.
Keywords, Branding, and Domain Names
Keywords are very important for search engine optimization, and they’recovered in every SEO 101 post you can find. And just as using keywords in web content has gone through changes, so didusing them in domain names.
Before 2012, the way to include keywords in the domain name was to match them exactly. If you wanted to create a page that promotes an online headphones store and you targeted the keyword “buy headphones online”, you would call it “buyheadphonesonline.com.” These types of domains were called exact match domains or EMD for short. EMD performed well in search engine rankings until 2012, when Google decided that an exact match domain isn’t as important as quality content.
Since then, people have turned towards partial match domains or PMD. Our online headphones store would use an important keyword in conjunction with another word to create a PMD. So it would go from “buyheadphonesonline” to “headphonesbonanza.com.”
Lately, domain names have been gravitating towards brandable names. These can be invented words, rare words, or catchy words that don’t necessarily have to be the name of your business. Or, if your business is already branded, you can use that name. PMD names also still regularly used. EMD names might have a negative connotation about them, but they are a viable option – you’ll just have to use other ways to boost your website’s ranking.
Domain Name Extensions
Domain name extensions are another thing you’ll have to choose when thinking about your business website. Choosing extensions is a bit different than choosing domain names, as they are pre-defined, and there’s a limited number of them.
The full list of top level domain extensions numbers more than a thousand entries. There are .duck and .george, and .horse and .prudential, and many others in between. For a successful website, however, you’ll probably focus on a couple of classics.
The most established and recognizable extension is .com, and it’s the one you should be after. It denotes you as a commercial business. For network organizations, you have .net, .org for organizations in general, .biz for a business. These are the options you have if you, for some reason, can’t get a .com.
You might also consider a country code toplevel domain extension, like .us for the United States, .ca for Canada, or .it for Italy. An increasingly popular one is .me, the country code extension for Montenegro.
Once you generate a couple of ideas, the next step would be to do some research and find out whether the domain names you chose are already taken. Most registrars – companies you use to register a domain name – can help you determine whether your name is taken or not. Better yet, your web hosting service provider might also double as a registrar and help you with your research. Once the name is cleared, and once you make sure it’s not infringing anyone’s copyright, you’re set to register it.