Choosing your domain name is not like choosing a name for a puppy. You shouldn’t just go with your feelings.
The first website I conducted SEO for was called educationstationteachers.com, belonging to a company called The Education Station. It was a horrible choice. It’s long, hard to remember, hard to see — that is, it’s difficult to look at it and grasp instantly what it says — and impossible to guess.
I don’t know why the owners chose this name. When you’re choosing your domain name, let’s make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes.
Think before you choose
- Find out what’s available. Try a domain name generator, where you can type in your business name and get a list of available options. Your first choice will naturally be YourBusiness.com if you’re a business or YourOrganization.org if you’re a nonprofit, and a domain name generator will tell you whether you can have that URL.
- Think about the top-level domain. That is, will you end your domain name with .com, .org, .biz, .net? If you make money from your website or from the company your website represents, then you want the .com ending. This is what people will guess and type in. However, the number of .com names available is dwindling, so you may need to be creative. We have healthcare clients who use .md (Moldova, in case you’re wondering) with complete success.
- First try to be guessable. If at all possible, use the address that people will be most likely to guess and type in. For The Education Station, it would have been educationstation.com. In fact, your best choice is usually MyBusiness.com — that is, the real world name of your business followed by .com.
- Then, try to be memorable. If you can’t get MyBusiness.com, you might be able to get MyBusinessMyTown.com, or MyBusinessMyProduct.com.
- At least, be predictable. Someone proposed www.signoooorama.com for a business called Sign-a-Rama. While there is a whimsy and coolness to that name, using the “O” instead of the “A” which the business uses, combined with the difficulty of getting the right number of “O”s typed in, makes this a bad choice. Your URL needs to have an obvious connection with your business. It can’t just be evocative. You goal is to get visitors there.
What if your best choice isn’t available?
- Use your keywords. All things being equal, Google gives higher placement to sites with the keyword in the URL. The name of your business certainly ought to be a major keyword for you. If for some reason you can’t get signarama.com, you may be better off with signsYourTown.com than with some variant on Sign-a-Rama. Notice, however, that we said “all things being equal.” They usually aren’t. People have tried to manipulate results with their domain names so much that Google doesn’t pay much attention to domain names any more.
- If all else fails, be short. Among the many problems with educationstationteachers.com was the length. Even people who found it easy to learn and remember wouldn’t care to type it in. “Bookmark it!” we’d say cheerfully, and that’s good advice, but it’s better to have a convenient URL in the first place. Not shorter than your actual business name (see “Be guessable” above), but no longer if you can avoid it.
If I couldn’t get MyBusiness.com as my domain name, I’d think seriously of changing my business name. If you’re starting a new business, start by choosing your domain name first.
However, if you have a well established business and a name change is not a realistic possibility, consider a variant like MyBusinessOnline.com or MyBusinessWeb.com. Then invest in SEO so your website comes up ahead of MyBusiness.com.