Choosing a domain name for you or a client can be a long and tedious process. With so many names no longer available, creating a new one or finding the right one requires research, creativity and sometimes a significant investment. Regardless of whether you are looking for a brand new name or considering purchasing one, the same factors come into play to determine the value of the domain name to your business.
It is important to mention that a great domain name won’t simply make your business, and a poor one won’t break it. With such a focus on search engines today, people can find your site in many ways other than typing it in the browser. However, a quality domain name can still help your business.
For starters, a domain name should be relevant to your business. Even a great one-word name like “sneakers.com” would not serve your purpose very well if you were selling books. Try to think of a name that people will remember based on what you do, remind them of your company name (if not an exact match), and that will at least somewhat describe what is on the site. A relevant domain name will also help you in search results. There are, of course, exceptions. Many sites have created brand new words that have proved to be great successes, from Google (now a verb) to Twitter. This requires a strong sense of brand, and even when dealing with a word the dictionary has never seen, something memorable.
The length of a domain name is extremely important, simply because people will remember shorter names. Shorter names may also come across as more professional and will appear better in print ads. Don’t expect to find yourself a 3-letter domain (they’re all taken), but try to think of as many variations as possible to get yourself a short domain name. Single-word domains are also few and far between, but a 2-word domain name is the next best thing. While hyphenation is not ideal, consider it as an option to grab a domain name that is already taken without a hyphen.
The most widely used domain extension is “.com” which stands for “commercial.” For many businesses, a “.com” domain is most desirable because it is the most recognized. People who remember your domain name may automatically assume it is a “.com” unless they remember otherwise. “.net” domains (for network) are intended for companies involved in an Internet-related business, but this extension is often considered the alternative when a “.com” is unavailable. Organizations and non-profits may prefer a “.org” extension, which is very common and even expected for these types of business. “.biz” and “.info” websites are also relatively common (compared to the many other extensions), but are much less recognizable than the top three extensions above.
What extension to choose will in some cases depend on your business type, and in other cases depend on what is available. A great “.net” domain might be more valuable to you than a long, confusing “.com,” which is a decision that often has to be made.
In the end, the name won’t mean everything… the promotion of the project, the quality of the website, optimizing it for searches and other factors will prove just as, and often more, important.