How to Choose Good Domain Name

Whether you find your current domain name lacking, or you are starting out afresh, there are plenty of considerations to make before delving into the wide world of domain names. We take a look at what is in a name, a domain name, that is.

What Is a Domain

First of all, before we dive into changing your domain name, let's discuss what a domain actually is. A domain is not the same as a website, though they are closely connected. The domain is a websites location.

A domain name points to the IP address, however, because IP addresses are numbers, it is far easier to remember a name versus a string of numbers.

A domain can be no longer than 63 characters, and the very first domain name was symbolics.com. It was registered in March of 1985. The best method for choosing a domain name is to ensure it is easy to remember, and to keep it simple.

What Is the "TLD"

TLD stands for Top-Level Domain. It is the last segment of a domains name, or more simply, the section of the domain that follows the dot. There are two classifications of TLD: generic and country specific.

The most popular TLDs are .com, .edu, .gov, .net, and .org. The entity that coordinates IP addresses and domains is ICANN. This is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

ICANN was traditionally strict about creating new TLDs, however, number generic options were introduced in 2010, including those specific to company trademarks.

You may also know TLD's as domain suffixes.

Typical TLDs and their purpose are as follows:

  • The .org denotes a (usually charitable) organization.
  • The .gov denotes a US governmental agency.
  • The .com represents a commercial business.
  • The .net is for network organizations.
  • The .edu is reserved for educational facilities, specifically universities.
  • The .uk is for sites in the United Kingdom.
  • The .au is for sites in Australia
  • The .ca is for Canada, while the .th is for Thailand.

Additionally, there are 4 TLDs that are reserved.

  • .test which is specifically used for testing.
  • .example is specifically available for example use.
  • .localhost is only available for local computer use.
  • .invalid is only used when dealing with invalid domain names.

How Do I Choose A Great Domain Name?

You should be focused on a name that is going to reflect what your company does. Big businesses created their online presence years ago, which may make it more difficult for smaller businesses and new startups to get creative when choosing the domain name that best reflects who they are.

Don't panic just yet, though, because the more unique your domain name is the more likely people will remember it. Hopefully that was something that you considered when you chose the name of your business in the first place.

The domain name should not be confused with other businesses, or easily forgotten. So, don't be afraid to get creative. You may find the best method is to combine two or more words together, or adding a twist to an existing word or name.

Before you get too far into your process, check out Google's AdWords Keyword Tool. This will show you the keywords that are most relevant to your type of business. You can use this to influence your domain name, too, because this will help increase your Google search ranking, ensuring potential consumers can't miss your website when looking for similar products or services.

Take time to discuss it with your team, and even hold a listening group to find out what your potential consumers think. Simplicity is crucial.

The final consideration when choosing your domain name is, of course, the law. Each business is unique, especially when dealing with registered trademarks, as well as company names. You may think it's a great idea to try piggybacking off of a successful competitor, and while this may reap short-term benefits, it's a poor strategy long-term.

Some people have to learn the hard way, which is what happened to a UK based company in 2015. Court action forced a fancy-dress company to give up several web addresses, including starwars.co.uk.

While the address was a bit relevant to the company itself, and garnered a serious amount of web traffic, it was an infringement on Disney's trademark. Once the ruling went against them, it set them back in their online marketing efforts.

How To Choose A Great TLD

Your TLD is just as important as your domain name. As mentioned above there are plenty of options available, and those options just continue growing. While .com is the standard (and makes up 48.3% of all web domains), and is suitable for a business of any size.

It has global pull, provides your brand with credibility, and future proofs your business for expansion further down the road. It also makes it easier to find your business in search engines.

To make life slightly easier, check out this Name Suggestion Tool. It offers a step by step process showing businesses what options are available to them, as well as how the perfect name can be easily purchased.

The Most Common Words in Domain Names

Lean Domain Search has calculated the top 5,000 prefixes and suffixes, that are used in domain names. We aren't going to subject you to all 5,000 of those, but you can feel free to peruse them in your own time. For now, we're going to highlight some of the most popular words used in domain names. We haven't included words like a, the, and, llc, or ltd.

Location names like NYC and USA are seriously used, as are first names like Brian, Mary, and Dave. This suggests personal domain names are more common than you would have thought.

Our passions are obviously important to us, too, and words like crossfit, art, wrestling, and film are frequently used.

What's more important than passion?

Appearance, of course. Domain names commonly use words like diet, self, hot, wax, look, face, spa, skin, and fat. What's more important than our passions, and our appearance? Well, more passion of course- auto and car are two seriously used words in domain names, and so are those related to our pets.

Pet and dog are often used, as are words related to psychology, such as power, fun, and joy. Sales words like sell, get, and deal and poor SEO options like title and untitled.

The word that is used the most frequently, though, is life.

Brand Domain VS. Keyword Domain

There are really three options when choosing your domain name, EMD, PMD, and Brandable Domain.

The EMD is an exact keyword phrase in your domain name, while PMD is a partial keyword match in the domain name. While the Brandable Domain contains no keywords, and is entirely focused on your brand. Your choice will be largely determined by what it is you are trying to achieve.

Including keywords in your domain name will help you achieve a higher search ranking, and it's the perfect choice for a company just starting out that does not have a recognizable brand name.

Brandable Domains are perfect for companies that have an established brand that will be recognized by consumers immediately. This is often used by large brands, bands, artists, musicians, and retailers.

A great brandable name is certainly more memorable, and unique.

The benefits to choosing an EMD is that it increases your SEO, and search engine ranking.

While a PMD is probably the best option, as is it a compromise of both, offering you the chance to include keywords as well as a brand name, thus boosting your search engine ranking and being a uniquely memorable name.

The Optimal Domain Length

The ideal domain length is 8 letters, while the average length is 11. It doesn't mean your website is doomed if your website doesn't conform to these standards, because quality is just as vital.

Though, it would be wise to ensure your domain name is under 15 letters, because remember- the longer it is, the more difficult it will be to remember. Or, the more likely someone is to make a mistake when trying to find you on the web.

Does A Hyphen Make A Domain More Memorable?

You may be tempted to include symbols to make your domain name more unique, and to get the name you want with a bit of cajoling. Don't fall into this trap, though, because hyphens are bad. They separate the words and detract from the credibility of your brand. They can also signify spam.

You may have a domain name with two words and you believe that a hyphen will make the domain name easier to read. While that may be true, it's typical behavior of spam websites, so it's best avoided.

So, despite the fact that hyphens and numbers do make websites easier to read and more appealing, these are the domain names that rank lower in search engines. Think about how people search for things on the internet, they don't tend to include symbols, numbers, or hyphens. If you can't get the domain name you want, don't be tempted to opt for a hyphen- rethink your strategy instead.

The Most Expensive TLDs

Initially, it was free to register a .com, but then a fee of $100 was instituted, it quickly fell to $75, but not every TLD is as cheap as that. .NA denoted the Republic of Namibia, which is a southwestern African country, which established independence back in 1990. It's known for its diamonds, and mineral resources.

It's also in the top 10 when it comes to the world's largest fish countries. If you're interested in registering an .NA domain, you can expect to spend at least $2,528 every year.

As far as the expense of domain names?

Well, that might just blow your mind. VacationRentals.com sold for $35 million dollars in 2007, and held the record until 2010 when Insurance.com sold for $35.6 million dollars. While there have been multi-million-dollar web domain purchases since then, nothing has come close to the money spent to secure Insurance.com.

In Summary

To sum things up, your domain name will play an important role in the success of your website. It is just as vital to its success as your content, and the quality of products and services that you have on offer. A good domain can prove to be the difference between your website flopping, or turning into a serious success.

So, to sum up the key to a good domain:

  • Your domain should be short, sweet, and to the point.
  • Your domain should be unique and memorable.
  • Your domain should be easy to spell, avoiding clever ways to spell words to ensure you get the domain you truly want.
  • Your domain should be brandable.
  • Your domain should be descriptive.
  • Your domain should go with a .com extension.
  • Your domain should not contain numbers, hyphens, or any other symbols, regardless of how many words it includes.