What’s in a (domain) name?

The Importance of a good domain name

If you are planning on developing a website (whether for yourself, your business, or your personal cause) planning, research, and the purchase of the proper domain name is an essential step that even the biggest entities sometimes overlook.

How do I choose a GOOD domain name?

For most businesses, a domain name will have a great impact on the success of the business’s website. There are those that argue that the number of people using web browser bookmarks and subscription tools like RSS feeds is increasing negating the need for a easy to remember, or spell domain name. Therefore, an easy to remember domain name is not vital.

However, the majority of web professionals (myself included) believe that despite these modern conveniences in web technology, domain names are vital and play a enormously important role in the success of every website built. Choosing a good domain can be the difference between an incredibly successful website and a total flop of a website.

Guidelines For Creating A Good Domain Name

Below are the guidelines for creating a good, strong domain name. These are guidelines that are (for the most part) agreed upon by SEO professionals and web designers worldwide.

A Good Domain Name:

1) is short 
Although there is no definite specification for the length of domain names, it is proven that the shorter domain names are more effective. Ideally, you would want a domain no longer than 20 characters.

2) is easy to remember
Most internet users do not use bookmarks, unless it is for sites they use daily, like banking or webmail. Most users just start typing the name of the website they want and the browser will auto complete the name for them. If your domain name is difficult to remember, your potential customers most likely will not return.

3) is easy to spell
Creating a domain name with foreign words, hyphens, numbers, or unusual spellings (like my previous website www.cattslair.com) can cause web surfers to end up on somebody else’s website. Try your best to avoid these practices.

4) has a .com extension
Unless your website is for an organization, like a church or non-profit, or is for a certain geographical region, it is always best to choose a .com extension. Why? The .com extension has been the most common domain extension almost since the internet was created. If people do not pay attention to the extension in their address bar, they will most likely assume .com. Also, there are many internet users that do not know that there are so many different domain name extensions in use today.

5) is descriptive
Your domain name is listed in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) right below the title of your business. Your domain name should let web surfers know what your website is about before they even hit your landing page.

6) is brandable, if not descriptive
A name that has an unusual or unique pronunciation (like Google.com, for example) can create an interesting, perhaps, intriguing visual effect in a person’s mind. However, getting the user’s attention is only the first part. It is through extensive branding and advertising that people become aware of what the company does and what the website’s content is. If you use this approach, be prepared to do some serious marketing.

7) doesn’t contain hyphens or numbers
Hyphens and dashes are hard to convey verbally, and will often be forgotten by the time the user sits down at the keyboard to type in the URL in the address bar. Having numbers in your domain name can be equally confusing. I previously worked for a company who had 4u in the domain name. It took longer than it should have to convey to people over the phone our website address or email addresses. You’d have to tell the person on the phone “the number four” when you got to that part of the address.

These characteristics are not written in stone, but you should follow these the best you can to help ensure that your investment in your business’s website is a success.

To learn more on this topic, please visit the links below

On Domain Names, Size and Quality DOES Matter!

How to Find Short Domain Names by Daniel Socco

Some information in this article was found here: The 7 Characteristics of Good Domain Namesby Daniel Socco
Next Up: A real life example of poor planning with a domain name