How to choose your domain name?
We’ve researched what other professionals believe are the most important factors to consider when choosing a domain name. There are many websites with suggestions, such as ‘10 tips to find your perfect domain’.
We’ve come to the conclusion that there are far more than 10 factors to consider when choosing a domain name.
By combining items from the many lists we’ve encountered, we’ve compiled what we feel is a more comprehensive list of criteria to consider when choosing a domain name. We’ve added comments and explanations where we’ve felt it necessary to do so.
We’ve put items in priority order but your priority may vary depending on your business.
How to start
New businesses often choose the company name first and the domain name second. We believe that for a new business it’s important to choose the domain name first, because it’s what people will encounter more often. Therefore, if you’re starting a new business, search for an available domain name first, then register your business name which should be the same, or very similar to, your domain name. Once your company name has been registered, you should register your domain name as soon as possible afterwards. Having the same domain name and business name will make it easier and quicker to build your brand.
Factors to be considered regarding your domain name
Make it easy to
Important: Jot it down and ensure it doesn’t look odd or inappropriate. Read it out loud repeatedly a few times to make sure it doesn’t look or sound weird.
- Keep it short and concise, aim for no more than three words.
- Target your area if possible to do so - If your targeted audience is local, you can add a local characteristic to your domain, e.g. ‘GardenerNorthampton.co.uk’ (this is a fictitious domain name now, of course but anybody can register it at any time).
- Avoid numbers and hyphens - It depends. Sometimes people choose a domain with a hyphen because their preferred version of the name is not available. We strongly recommend you don’t do this, so as not to provoke the original domain owner who may think you are attempting to gain an unfair advantage. But if you already own the original domain and would also like to register the hyphenated version, there is no reason not to go ahead. However, bear in mind, people tend to forget the hyphens and type only the simpler version.
Using numbers can be okay, if it represents a vital part of your services, for example ‘plumber0-24.co.uk’
There may be occasions when the exact domain name you’d like to register has already been taken but generally you should be able to find a suitable and unique alternative. It may take some time but if you’re persistent in your search you will find a suitable domain name for your business.
Domain extensions - additional tips from professionals
What is a domain extension? The simple answer is: the last letters of the domain name, such as ‘.co.uk’, ‘.com’, ‘.info’, etc.
- Use an appropriate domain name extension - Notes: Don’t choose an ‘.international’ domain extension for a local business... Just use your common sense.
- Register other domain extensions, too - Note: If you think your domain name quite valuable, you can go for com, net, info, domains too. The bad news is that you can choose from more than 1300 top-level domains and domain extensions… But you can choose ‘.consulting’ or ‘.services’ for a local business as well. We recommend using ‘.co.uk’ for a local UK business, because people in the UK tend to type the ‘.co.uk’ extension first.
- If you register additional domain names that are similar to your main domain, use redirection so that all traffic is redirected to your main domain - Note: You’ll need a proper redirection method. This is something your webmaster can help you with.
Using keywords in domain names
It’s not essential you use your most important search phrase as your domain name. Doing so doesn’t harm your search results but it doesn’t really help either. Recently Google has decreased indexing domain names which focus on manipulating search results by using keywords as a domain name. You can still choose a domain name which contains keywords but use it only for representing your services.
Good to know
About domain name generators
Some websites suggest using a domain name generator tool to gather ideas but to be honest, we've found these domain variations are quite odd and not very useful. We still prefer to trust in the 'old human brain'.
Some companies have a strategy of buying up potentially desirable domain names and waiting for the opportunity to sell them. In our experience, unless a domain is critical to your business, it’s probably not worth buying one that has been previously registered for the purpose of re-selling.
A couple of examples of odd domain names are already registered:
A few even stranger domain names that have already been taken
Yes, we agree that the progress of registering a domain may be extremely simple but manufacturing an 'IWhatever' or 'IAnything' still seems to be a little bizarre…
The good news is that ‘iAnything.co.uk’ is still available :-)
You can protect your privacy - If you use your private data during the registration process, it’s worth opting to protect your privacy. It will cost you a few extra pounds to do so but your data will be hidden from public view. If your company owns the domain, you don’t need to do this as your company details are already in the public domain.
- Check availability on social media sites and trademarks
- Avoid copyright infringement
You can read a few technical details of domain registration here