A big decision that companies and brands have to live with for a long time is the domain name of their website. Domain names can have a massive impact on a company’s online presence. Things like click-through rate, social media engagement, links, brandability, advertising, and search engine rankings are all hinged on having a successful domain name. Knowing it’s so vital it can be overwhelming to pick one. Before you sit down to register one, here are a few tips to choosing one that will help, and not hinder, your online presence.
Brand, Brand, Brand
Having a brandable domain name means that when people hear it, they think it’s a brand. Adding elements like hyphens, dots, or numbers is an issue because it sounds generic or odd. Think about the future of your brand too when thinking up domain names. Maybe right now you only have one product, but if you think you will eventually expand, take that into account.
For example, if you want to create a website for your soap company:
- Soap-123.com doesn’t seem like an easy to remember or relatable brand name
- com might sound cute and is unique, but it’s a challenge to say and remember.
- com is a great name. It sounds like something people would want to be apart of and it makes it clear what the brand is about.
Why does it matter how easy a domain name is to pronounce when people will simply be typing it, not saying it? Well, people have a natural cognitive bias where we remember things that we can easily say. Even when we don’t say things aloud, we still pronounce them in our heads. If you can’t easily say the name, customers won’t remember you as well. Of course, pronounceability will change depending on the language and geographical region you are targeting.
Short and Sweet
Shorter is better when it comes to domain names. Length matters because people are more likely to remember shorter things. The fewer characters a domain has and the easier it is to say, type, and share then the less likely it will be forgotten or shortened by social media platforms and search engines.
While keeping it short is nice, don’t sacrifice clarity for the sake of length. If you have a domain name that is perfect but it’s a little longer still stick with it. People often force themselves to shorten names and end up with an incoherent mess.
For example, if you have a law firm with multiple partners:
- com is too long
- com is short but in shortening, you sacrifice telling customers what the website is related too
- com is a nice length and lets users know what the site is related too
Yes, even 2017 .com is still the most recognizable and trusted domain name. Since people remember things and have a positive association with, .com is still the top-level domain (TLD).
There are some exceptions to this. If you’re focused in a specific country, adopting the localized TLD is fine. For Canada that would be .ca, for China it is .cn. For certain countries, like China, having a localized domain actually grants you better results. For international brands, if you’re moving into a unique market and have to translate your content into a different language, consider adopting a whole new website with the local domain to reach that new audience.
There are tons of websites out there today and this can make it complicated when selecting a domain name. People may have an ideal one, only to discover at registration that it’s already taken. Often they change a few things so that it’s similar but different. This can cause problems though. Users may confuse the two brands and the other company may even have legal cause to take action against you. So make sure that you pick something unique to avoid all the legal troubles.
Your domain name should give people a strong idea of what the website and brand are about. Users should be able to look at it and say, “Oh, it’s probably about…” That’s why SoapSociety.com or SDPLawyers.com works. It’s right there in the title what the company is all about.
Having keywords in a domain name cannot only help give clarity to users but also aid from an SEO perspective. Google has been shying away from giving special treatment to perfect match domains, but they still help.
Do not stuff your domain with keywords though. Not only is it not worth it since they don’t carry that much weight anymore, they also have negative associations with them both to users and search engines. Frankly, it comes off as spammy and inauthentic.
SoapSociety.com is great, but BuySoapTorontoCanada.com is not.
Picking the right domain name can be hard, but once you find it things will start to slide into place. The key to a good domain name is something memorable, unique, and easy to read. Take the time to really research and think through what domain name would be right for your brand. SEO, user engagement, and conversion rates will all be impacted by it.
If you need help with selecting a domain name or any other digital marketing needs, please feel free to contact us!