Choosing a domain for your website isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. It’s probably going to stick with you for the long run, and is a huge part of your brand’s overall digital presence.
With well over a billion active websites, our choice of domain is becoming more and more limited, making the decision that little bit harder.
Here’s some important things you need to consider before making the commitment…
Businesses grow – they expand product ranges, locations, service offerings, and the domain name needs to consider this.
Honing in on a certain product / service within your domain can cause issues further down the line when your brand expands, so make it as general as possible.
For example ‘brandnametshirts.com’ won’t be ideal when you expand your range to include dresses, trousers, shoes etc. So ‘brandname.com’ is going to be a safer option.
Consider your business goals from the off and choose something to suit. Yes, you can change your domain name, but it’s best to avoid this scenario if possible as you can risk losing a lot of authority from as SEO perspective, which leads us nicely into the next point…
Don’t choose an exact match domain purely for the sake of SEO. They have a tendency to look spammy these days, and it takes a lot more than this to build up a strong organic presence.
Domains that contain no keywords whatsoever have just as much, if not more chance of ranking well in search engines if you focus on building up authority in all the right ways.
This also goes hand in hand with our first point – exact match domains can often restrict you from a service offering point of view, and users may not realise that your site provides much more than this. ‘brandnametshirts.com’ won’t help you rank for dresses when you start to expand…
Domain extensions (TLDs) are also a hot topic in the SEO world. With so many to choose from these days, the best place to start is considering which one might be beneficial from an SEO perspective.
If your company is offering a service in the UK, then a .co.uk domain is advisable. It instantly tells google where your site is based to help it rank in that specific country.
If your brand is global, .com is probably the best way to go. Even if you buy a country specific domain, buying it’s .com counterpart is also advisable. .com is always credible, memorable, and probably slightly favoured by google over the more out-there ‘tv, ‘biz, .company’ type extensions.
Don’t overcomplicate your domain name. It just needs to make sense in terms of your brand.
The shorter your domain name, the easier it is to pronounce, type and even share. Long domains will inevitably get shortened on social media, so keep it concise.
There is also research to show that the top 1,000 most popular websites in the world have an average of just 7 characters before the first dot. Think about the likes of Google, Amazon, Ebay, YouTube, Twitter etc. etc… They’re memorable, and although availability is now making it more difficult to keep domain length to a minimum, it’s worth a try.
Avoid hyphens – they won’t help with SEO and and they’re a pain to say out loud. People and search engines are smart enough to read domain names without any differentiation between words (although they may occasionally help avoid an awkward ‘slurl’).
So you’ve found the perfect domain name, but are the equivalent social media handles available too?
If your social profiles don’t match the domain it can make your brand more difficult to find across other platforms. This can cause unnecessary friction with your audience, so even if you aren’t intending to use social straight away, it’s a good idea to think ahead, check your desired handles are available, and bagsy them while you can.
Tools like knowem can help you kill two birds with one stone and check domain names / social availability in one go.
Your domain name is more than just an address for your website – think about your brand, your business goals and your overall online presence before you take the plunge.