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Choosing a Domain Name 101

In the near future, are you thinking about purchasing a domain name, for your company or simply for yourself? In this article, we will cover many aspects that you should take into consideration in order for you to select the perfect domain name.

Let us start by asking some basic questions:

  • What is your company?
  • What are you selling?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Are you aiming at the youth or the elderly?
  • Do you want something slightly funky or do you want to just stick to your fairly bland name?

These questions may appear to be pointless, but nevertheless many people have doubts in these areas. You should have already thought about these questions, but if you have not, now is your chance. Remember, being boring is not always a bad thing. The true key factor is to be simple, but effective.

Make It Relevant

Choose a domain name that relates to your website, even if it is just the first few letters of the word. You would be surprised at the number of companies with an utterly and completely different domain from their company's name. This will cause dilemmas, simply because visitors will be looking for your company's name in the domain.

Choose the Right Length

Due to the increase of people using the Internet, you will want a domain name that reflects your company and that is also easy to remember. Although you can have sixty-seven characters in a domain name, do you really want that many? It would not be easy for visitors to remember.

The key is to have something short and snappy, while being related and easy to remember. On the flip side, in some cases longer domains can be just as beneficial. For instance, domains often rank better in search engines if they are more descriptive, which is usually the case for longer domain names.

For example, if you are selling beds your domain could be cheapreliablebeds.com and you would gain the search engine benefits, but it is not very easy to remember. You could shorten the domain down to crbeds.com, which is a lot easier to remember, but would forfeit the search engine benefits. Ideally, you could purchase both domains and retain the effects of both ends of the spectrum.

A disadvantage to longer domain names is that they are prone to more spelling mistakes by the user. Trying to remember the long domain and then typing it correctly is not a piece of cake. Most people try about three times, give up, and visit another website. You do not want that to happen.

Avoid Hyphenation

Another common question to consider is if the domain should be hyphenated? There are many disadvantages to having a hyphenated domain name. For example, it is easier to forget a domain that contains hyphens. When have you said to yourself, I am going to go the "the hyphen wet hyphen dog .com." Instead you probably would say "the wet dog .com." The second address, without the hyphens, might lead them directly on to your competitor's website.

Another disadvantage is that when people spread your website via word-of-mouth they will not say the address with hyphens, as it is just something you automatically ignore while you talk.

Despite the disadvantages, the sole advantage is that search engines can read the keywords easier, and the hyphens could potentially increase your search engine positioning. Ask yourself, is it worth losing the word-of-mouth ability? Who is more likely to buy from you, some random person viewing your website or someone who was recommended? Personally, I recommend to avoid hyphens in your domain name, unless you are forced into it because the domain name you originally wanted is taken.

Pick Your Extension

Now the question is, which extension? .net? .com? .org? Maybe even a local extension, such as .co.uk? Choosing the right extension is a valuable factor in picking the perfect domain.

If you own a local-based company, which operates in one location, then you may prefer a country extension. Country extensions show the visitor where you are based. They will not work well for international websites.

For an online based business, such as a web design firm or web hosting company, a .net extension may suit your needs perfectly. It shows that you are based on the Internet and that you are open to worldwide business.

The .org extension is generally used for non-profit organizations. Most organizations are non-profit, because otherwise they would be considered commercial businesses.

Now we come to the mighty, internationally recognized .com domain extension. This is the most common domain extension. When you search for a domain name the .com version will generally appear first. Often people will just presume that you are using .com, rather than any other extension. For any company, .com should be the first choice.

Conclusively, you should instantly go with a .com domain first. If that domain is not available, then you should go down to one of the other top level domain extensions.

Advertising Your Domain

If the domain you want is taken and you are forced to go with a variation of it, such as thewebsite.com or mywebsite.com, when you advertise your website make sure to include the entire domain, with the "the" or "my." Otherwise, people will forget and go straight to your competitor.

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