As a web consultant I am often asked what makes a good domain name. The simple answer is “sticky factor”. The best domain names are short, easy to spell, and often contain descriptive keywords. This makes them catchy and easy to remember, and that’s sticky factor.
Here’s what you do…
Tell each domain name you are considering to a group of family or friends then change the topic of conversation. An hour later ask them to repeat the domains to you. The ones they can remember have the most sticky factor. Try this with several different groups of people. Be sure to change the order in which you say the domain names. You want to make sure they remember it because it’s sticky, not just because you said it first each time.
How Professional Domain Brokers Choose Business Domains for Clients
- Avoid hyphens and numerals. The shorter and more concise your domain name the easier it will be for people to remember it. Symbols and numbers confuse people (i.e. home4rent.com, homeforrent.com, home-4-rent.com, etc). If you buy a domain name with a symbol or number you need to buy all the different versions or your customers will get confused and go to on the wrong website.
- Avoid abbreviations, unless they are universal. Your company name abbreviated might mean something to you, but to the vast majority of people it means nothing. It also means nothing to the search engines, unless the abbreviation is already common (i.e. USA for United States of America).
- Location does matter for businesses. People often search local terms (i.e. state, city, etc) when looking for businesses. For example, someone in Seattle would probably search something like, “Seattle auto mechanic” or “auto mechanic in Seattle” rather than just “auto mechanic”. Having your city, state, or county name in your domain name is one way to help boost your local search rank.
- Do not register trademarks or misspellings of trademarks. Just because a domain is available does not mean that it is legal for you to buy it. It is not the responsibility of your domain registrar (domain name supplier) to tell you if a domain is trademarked. Even if the sales representative tells you it is okay and sells it to you, YOU are still responsible. Use TESS ( Trademark Electronic Search System ) to search the United States Patent and Trademark Office for conflicting trademarks before you purchase a domain.
- Your domain name registrar (domain name supplier) should be; inexpensive, always available by phone, and located in the same country as you.
Inexpensive: Domain names should only cost about $10 per year. If you’re paying more then you’re paying too much. If you’re paying less then you’re probably stuck in a contract and/or not getting the support you should.
Open 24×7: The internet never stops and your website never stops, so your tech support should never stop either. If your site goes down at 11:30 PM on December 31st then you should be able to speak with someone in person to get back up and running quickly. After all, you might be running a marketing campaign or contest that starts during the oliday.
Local to You: No offense to non-English speakers, but tech stuff is hard enough to understand without a spoken language barrier. Too many tech companies outsource customer support to countries that don’t speak the same language.
If you’re in the US I recommend NerdWarehouse.com. They also offer Spanish language support.
- Choose your company name and domain name(s) at the same time. Ideally you want the main domain name (usually the.com) to be identical to the business name. This is not always an option, so read the next point.
- In some cases a generic domain name is better than a specific title. If your business name is made of generic industry terms the domain is probably already taken. Not to worry. You can always buy a keyword rich domain name. Think of the word combinations that people will search when looking for a product or service like yours and use those words to make a custom domain name.
- Select domains with both the.COM and.NET available. This prevents competitors and “domain squatters” (people that buy domains and hold them ransom) from buying the other versions and leading your confused customers to a website that is not yours. Since.com and.net are the most popular domains it is usually good enough to get just these, but some companies choose to buy several (i.e..com,.net,.org,.info,.me, etc).
- Even if you are not ready to setup a website you should still buy the domains now. Every day great domain names become available because someone forgot to renew them, or couldn’t afford them, or just decided they didn’t want them anymore. Good domain names do not last long and finding the right domain is hard, so if you find a good one buy it. If you find a better one, buy it. Who cares if you end up with several domains you never use? At least you got the one you wanted. It is more expensive to talk someone into selling you a domain name than it is to buy a dozen available domains, so act fast or you may loose your opportunity.