In many ways, your website is the nerve-centre of your business. In the digital age, it’s usually the first place people will find out about you, and it’s also where people go if they want to contact you or find out more about your services. Because of this, your website better be good, from top to bottom. And by top, we mean the very top of your webpage. Yes, we’re talking about your domain name.
If you’ve got a flashy website and great products, your domain name might seem like a trivial detail, but choosing a domain name is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting your business. Your domain name is an extension of your brand because it appears not just online, but on print material and other places. And as we know, your brand is a crucial element of your marketing strategy because it’s how people recognise you.
So to help you boost your brand, we’ve put together a list of 4 things business owners should keep in mind when choosing a domain name. These are relevance, memorability, searchability, and research. Following these tips will make choosing a domain name easy peasy.
Choosing a domain that is memorable comes from a combination of things, including creativity, its usability, and our next point, its relevance. Memorability increases your brand recognition and will help keep customers coming back to your website. How? If your domain name is memorable, when people share it by word of mouth or see it, for example, on an advertisement, they will remember it later when at their computer.
Spend some time brainstorming a creative name and test it out on people you know. Ask not just whether they like it, but whether they think it’s memorable, and whether they think it is relevant to your business. However, you should be careful not to get too creative – if you were taught KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) at school, you’ll know what we’re talking about! Your customers still have to be able to use your domain name. That means keep it short, and stay away from things such as numbers, and special characters such as hyphens. Because you can have up to 67 characters in your domain, you do have some flexibility, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all. Removing elements like numbers, for example, makes it easier for people to visit your website if they hear about it through word of mouth, because it isn’t always clear if numbers should be spelt out in full or not.
If you’re torn between creativity and clarity, we’d suggest always go with something that’s simple and straightforward. Making sure your customers can find you is the most important thing – if our domain name was www.d1g1tal-glue.eu or www.marketingonlineprintandinpersonatdigitalglue.com, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog right now!
It probably goes without saying that your domain name should be relevant to your business and services you offer. The best way to do this is make your domain name your business name. However, this isn’t always possible – you might find that all Top Level Domains (TLD), such as .com, .co,uk, or .org, that include your domain are taken.
So what do you do? There are now more registered .com domains than ever before, meaning that choosing a domain is getting more difficult. To get around this, businesses are looking for alternatives. You could find out what other relevant TLDs you can use (you may have noticed that we use .eu!). Or you could consider using other relevant terms to help your SEO, which leads us to our next point…
Consider how you can shorten your business name or use keywords relating to your services so that your domain is still clear and relevant. For example, if your business is a bike rental company based in Birmingham, you might want to go for BrummieBikes.com.
Now this is really catchy and memorable – great to get customers revisiting easily. The only issue is that it’s not likely to come up when people search for rental bikes in Birmingham. To fix this, we need to consider what SEO keywords people will be looking for. For this business, the important keywords are “bikes” and “Birmingham”. To make sure that people find your website, choosing a domain like BirminghamBikes.com means that you’re more likely to pop up in their searches.
But what about the much catchier BrummieBikes.com? That’s easy. You could simply set visits to BrummieBikes.com to redirect to BirminghamBikes.com. That way, you can use the catchy BrummieBikes.com on print material and social, but people searching for Birmingham Bikes will still find you!
The most important thing you can do when choosing a domain name is research. We’ve all heard the story about how Google rebranded to Alphabet, only to then discover that Alphabet.com was owned by BMW who refused to sell it. Oops.
Always be checking what’s available and what’s taken. You can do this with tools such as Bust A Name. Not only does this mean checking you can actually get the domain you want, but by knowing what your competitors have taken means you won’t accidentally be driving traffic to their site when customers type .com instead of .co,uk. If your research shows both TLDs are free, consider buying both! Remember to also check whether social usernames are free to ensure brand consistency. If your chosen domain isn’t available, you might want to contact the owner and enquire into purchasing it. Use sites like WhoIs.Net to find out who owns it and how you can contact them.
There are also other things to consider, such as if you’re buying a used domain, checking what has been written about your website before – you don’t want someone else’s bad reputation attached to your business. It’s also worthwhile to do research into whether the domain you’re using is trademarked. If it is, you could easily be opening yourself up to having a complaint filed against you. You can search for UK trademarks here.
Choosing a domain name can seem particularly daunting, especially when you consider that it’s difficult to change once your marketing and branding are in place. However, following these 4 steps makes it easy to know where in the world wide web to start.
If you’re looking for a new website, our web team will be able to give you the help you need. Get in touch with them here.