Imagine how many customers you would lose if you had a strange business address. Let’s say the words are hard to spell. The format doesn’t make sense. And there’s random numbers and symbols in weird places.
Few people would waste time trying to find your location. In fact, they’d move on to the next business on the list and never look back. Opportunity missed.
It might seem outrageous, but people make this mistake all the time when creating a website. Understanding how to choose a domain name for your business can help you:
- Distinguish your brand from competitors
- Attract new customers to your website
- Prevent spammers from poaching traffic
If your domain is too confusing or generic, customers are more likely to end up at a competitor’s site. Internet users don’t want to work hard to find your business, so make it easy.
Follow these tips to choose a domain name that keeps new business flowing in.
1. Balance branding with search engine optimization (SEO)
An existing business name is the obvious place to start, but getting an exact match isn’t easy these days. Domain registrations are growing by about 6.8 percent, or 21 million, year over year, according to domain and server management firm Verisign. For two reasons, you should focus on creating a strong branded name.
- Credibility: For years, domain names stuffed with keywords ranked higher in searches. Generic domains like BestTopLoadWashers.com or ChicagoTshirtDesign.com captured the most traffic. Many of these sites are full of junk content, and Internet users have learned not to trust them.
- Longevity: Thanks to better Google algorithms, SEO is becoming secondary to branding. SEO trends are always changing, so a keyword-focused name that works today could rank much lower in a year. Getting steady inbound website traffic from quality sources is the best way to rank well. In the long-term, having a trusted brand gives you the most credibility online.
Keywords aren’t everything, but try to include at least one when possible. Big companies have a huge budget to promote a branding choice, so they can afford to be more abstract. As a small business owner, you hook more customers when your domain name explains what you do. Beauty Bar is a great brand name. BeautyBarMakeup.com is a better domain name. It tells customers you sell makeup, not hair products or fashion accessories.
2. Use a domain name search tool
If you’re brainstorming a business name and domain at the same time, narrow your list with a domain search. Plug in the keywords or values that describe your business to get domain suggestions. Keep in mind, you don’t have to limit your business name choices based on URL availability. You can modify either name as needed to get your branding just right.
Picture a company that sells pillows and, to a lesser extent, other bedding supplies. Happy Nap and Happy Nap Bedding Co are possible names for the physical store. To make an impact online, the owner could use HappyNapBedding.com or HappyNapPillows.com as a domain. Both domains describe the product and values — making pillows and keeping customers happy.
3. Add modifying words
Right now, business owners are setting up shop online in droves. That means 20 other people around the country could have the same business name as you. In most cases, you don’t want to change your business name when it’s already a local success. A better option is to add simple words to increase your chances of snagging an available URL.
Another problem is price. All too often, domain hoarders buy up great names and charge a premium for them. If you can’t afford to shell out $2000 for the perfect name, using a slight variant is more cost-effective. Consider these common modifiers.
- Nouns: Include the type of product or solution you offer. “Sweeties Bakery” could become “SweetiesDesserts.com.” “Cycle Pro Bicycle Parts and Equipment” could become “CycleProShop.com” or “CycleProBikes.com.”
- Verbs: Use a simple call to action. For example, the prefix “get” is gaining popularity in the tech industries. Tell customers what you want them to do. ShopFancyFabrics.com. EatAtFranks.com. The possibilities are endless, but stick to short terms that won’t make your domain name too long.
- Locations: Adding a specific place can be limiting if you move. However, they’re useful if your business is part of a franchise or has multiple locations. FishNGearCT.com and FishNGearMA.com let customers know which website serves each state.
4. Keep the spelling simple
If you’re doing a good job of marketing your business, customers will hear about you in more than one place. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful promotion, so you want a domain people can easily share. Consider the domain name Del.icio.us. This well-known company has a URL that’s hard to spell intuitively. Most business owners shouldn’t take this approach, as it’s harder for people to find you online.
The other problem is competitors. Ever looked for a specific website and found a different business instead? If other businesses have a similar name with a more natural spelling, they could get traffic meant for you.
With this in mind, stick to real words when you can. If you prefer coined names with made-up or misspelled words, make them as phonetic as possible. Think Marketo, Microsoft, or FedEx. Avoid numbers, as people won’t know whether or not to spell them out.
5. Check for trademark conflicts
Don’t assume a domain is safe to use if it’s available. It’s up to you to make sure you don’t infringe on a trademark. Not to mention, some trademark rights depend on the industry. Apple trademarked its name for the computing industry. But it’s perfectly fine to use this super common word in another business sector. The Trademark Electronic Search System is a good place to start your research.
The right domain depends on how you plan to run your business. Coined names are ideal when you want to completely stand out from the crowd. If you run a solo operation, using your own name might be the easiest method. Yet, some names are too hard to spell and won’t work as a domain. Before you purchase a domain, look at the entire name in small caps. When words run together, they can have unintended meanings, so pay attention to these key details.
Already have an established website? Don’t be afraid to register a new domain. A strong name can boost traffic and make customers think of you next time they need a specific product. To get more customers, learn how to choose a good domain name that works for you, not against you.
> Brainstorming a new domain name for your business? Try our domain name search tool to see which ones are available.