The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names…Chinese Proverb
How do you choose a good domain name? Why should you fuss and bother so much over the agonizing process? Is it really that important to “get it right?” Every day I hear business owners pondering this question. Over and over the mantra is “I need a good domain name but all the good ones are taken!”
Choosing a domain name that captures your business brand, is optimized for local search, and is scalable for your growing and rapidly changing business needs can seem overwhelming. Does it have to be that difficult a process for such an important task? NO! As a matter of fact, it is a lot easier than you think if you follow a few common sense tricks and traits and implement a little creativity in the process.
Basically, selecting a domain name requires employing the following critera:
· Must be easy to spell in order to avoid confusion
· Easy to pronounce/read
· Free from .info or .biz TLD’s that are difficult to remember
· Uses no hypens, underlines or dots between words and letters
· Short so it is easy to remember
· Does not have words that end with one letter that is also the first letter of the next word (ie: firsttimeecommerce.com)
· Is easily brandable
If you have any friends who are really good at games like Scrabble or Boggle or are champion crossword puzzle solvers, it can be a useful exercise to have them help you with the naming conventions for your site. Keep in mind, when you create your domain name for your website you are creating the one thing that has the single most long-term impact on your eventual site traffic. Choose well! Whatever name you choose will reside not only on the web but on your business cards, letterhead, invoices, and any other PR material you decide to generate. It must be easy to give verbally over the phone and in conversation so make sure it is easy to spell and say intelligibly. Select a domain name that makes sense and is easy to remember.
In the days of strictly brick and mortar businesses naming your company relied heavily on originality. You had to make sure your business’ name was nothing like your competitor’s so your business stood apart. It is not that much different today! Now you want to make sure your domain name communicates who and what you are all about, is ‘brandable,’ and works as a solid email address too. That way you are marketing even when you send out emails.
According to Ries and Trout in their books, “Positioning: The Battle of Your Mind” and “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing,” domain name selection is a form of positioning. It is often the first point of contact that consumers have with you and your marketing messages. It is subliminally critical, according to Ries, to make a positive first contact with your target audience. Your name must convey specific information that is categorized from the consumer perspective. For example, when people look for car repair shops do they look under the word “auto” or “automotive”? Do they look for a “dental” or “dentist”? Think like a consumer and how they will search for your business and how will they remember your name again and again when you select your domain name.
How do you make your name easily located, remembered, and differentiated from the hundreds of thousands of others on the Internet? Differentiation is important but the real goal is to attract the greatest number of potential customers to your site. By incorporating the right balance of keywords, geo-targeting, and branding you can potentially dominate your market with just a little effort.
Keywords are the trigger words that the local search engines use in combination with a few other SEO tricks to assign your site a “position” in web directory listings. Keywords are similar to categories in that they are the words and phrases used by consumers who are seeking information on the Internet. Geo-targeting is a physical location associated with your business. The search engines know where you are located and through the consumer’s IP address he/she is using to search a directory on the internet the internet knows where they are located geographically. Many searches on Google will generate a search result that has a map with local listings followed by “normal” search engine listings related to the search phrases used. The businesses that show in the map list all have geographical relevance to the search. These things all become linked to the naming conventions you employ when creating your domain name. For example, if you have a The Pizza Palace in Seattle and you sell gourmet pizzas you should seriously consider selecting a domain name that incorporates keywords, geo-target and branding elements: GourmetPizzaPalaceSeattle.com or Seattlegourmetpizzapalace.com
The name is somewhat alliterative (Pizza Palace) so it is easy to remember, has a geo-target (Seattle), and keywords (Seattle, gourmet pizza, pizza). It is also not too long and easy to read. It is critical to try and strike a balance when trying to incorporate all three of these elements in selecting a domain name. As long as it is catchy and easy to remember and strikes that balance you can’t help but have a winner on your hands. The right domain name is worth its weight in gold.
Now hurry out there and buy your domain name before someone else does!