Choosing the perfect domain name for your website requires a combination of strategy, imagination, research and linguistics; and with over a billion websites online it’s becoming harder and harder to get the domain you want.
For start-ups, checking the availability of web domains is playing an increasingly significant role in the entire naming process of a business. Before selecting any web domain name ask yourself these 5 questions:
- Is it short?
- Is it catchy?
- Is it easy to spell
- Is it original?
- Who are you trying to attract?
If the answer to the first 4 questions is ‘no’ you may want to rethink your strategy, or consider purchasing multiple domains to catch your audience. Below we answer 5 frequently asked questions about website domains.
1. What is a Web Domain
Every website has a URL and every URL includes a Domain Name and a Top Level Domain (TLD).
Generally speaking .com is the most desirable Top Level Domain. However, with billions of websites online it is very possible that the .com domain you want is already taken, forcing you to choose an alternative TLD.
To see which alternative domain extensions might be right for your business ask yourself these two questions:
1. Is your target market specific to one country?
2. What type of business are you?
If your audience is specific to a country, choosing a country coded TLD like .co.nz, .co.au or .co.uk is perfect, especially if you sell physical products that can only be delivered within that country. If your product is available in multiple countries we suggest purchasing your domain under all the relevant country extensions to get the best local search results (as well as under .com)
For example: It’s very unlikely that a New Zealand user will be directed to a .co.fr (France) website in search results, simply because Google knows that French websites probably aren’t relevant to a New Zealander’s search. Equally websites ending in .co.nz are unlikely to be picked up in other countries.
If your business is an organisation or charity then a .org TLD might also be right for you. Educational institutions might choose .edu, and websites designed specifically for mobile device should use .mobi.
Remember, there are no specific regulations or rules. You can purchase multiple web addresses and ‘point’ them all to your website. Often registering a number of domain names with a variety of TLDs will give you the best search results.
3. How Long Should My Domain Name Be?
Domains can be up to 63 characters long, excluding the TLD. However it’s a generally accepted rule that ‘the shorter the better’. Typically, shorter domain names are easier for users to remember and spell, therefore you can better guarantee that a user will find your website correctly when looking for your website in a ‘direct search’. Anything 10 characters or less is recommended.
Including keywords within your domain name can help improve organic search results even though they can be longer.
For example: a Wellington photographer specialising in weddings might want to purchase the domain “weddingphotographerwellington.co.nz”
Before purchasing keyword based domains do your research! Find out which keywords are the most relevant to your business and which ones will give you the best results. Google’s Keywords Tool is a great free application for this.
4. What Should I Do if My Business Name is Long, Hard to Spell, or the Domain Has Already Been Taken?
If you think your audience will have trouble finding you because your name is too long, hard to spell, or hard to remember you may want to rethink the branding of your business and choose something more catchy. If this is the case, get in touch with us, we’d love to help guide you through the process.
If changing your businesses’ name is not an option there are things you can do to overcome the problem. Consider:
- Abbreviations – is it possible to abbreviate your name and still be recognised?
- Keywords – try using keywords in your domain to boost search results
- Nicknames – is your business familiar to customers by another name? e.g. Coke vs Coca-Cola; VW vs Volkswagen.
5. How do I purchase a domain name?
Web hosting providers make it easy to purchase domains and test their availability. For small to medium businesses we recommend choosing a web host with a good reputation based in your own country. That way you can be assured of better customer support in your own timezone when you need assistance.
If you need help with selecting a domain name or web provider contact us by calling (04) 385 7110 or