Few start-up founders understand how critical the task of choosing a domain name is. Some start-ups have domain names that are long, ambiguous and difficult to pronounce while others have catchy, short and precise names. The type of domain name you choose for your firm will influence the long-term impact of your online identity and client engagement. It’s possible to still have poor online ratings if your website has great content yet your domain name is chunky and too long. Your URL is the first thing your site visitors will see. Therefore, it will not only be making an impression on your visitors, it will also affect SEO.
1) Choose Brandable Over Generic.
Creative, memorable and brandable domain name is way better than a generic name. Keep in mind that the domain name is how site traffic will find, remember and share your site page. A brandable domain name is unique, catchy, pronounceable, and stands out. You should choose a domain name that doesn't blend in with the other keyword domains in your industry because that will muffle visibility. Most keyword domain names tend to be generic hence easy to find as a group, but are harder to distinguish as individual domain names for different start-ups.
2) Keep It Short, Unique and Easy to Remember.
Most effective domain names tend to be short. The more concise it is the easier and more memorable it becomes. Concise domain names are also easier to type and recall during online searches. In line with that stay away from domain names that have words which are difficult to spell and type. If you heard a domain name in a radio ad would you be able to recall and spell it correctly? If it can’t be recalled, spelled and typed correctly by listeners then it most likely won’t work for you.
Once you come up with domain names that will work for your site the next step is to confirm its availability. There are several online platforms through which you can confirm the availability. These include GoDaddy, checkdomain.com, and copright.gov. The last thing you want is to end up with a URL or domain name that can be confused with that of another site. This will also make sure that you won't end up with lawsuits, copyright infringement or any other ownership issues.
3) Use Other Domain Extensions/Endings.
Ideally, you want to secure a .com or .org domain depending on the purpose of your site. The .com sites are the best in terms of branding, type-in-traffic, and ease of search. However, there are other effective extensions or endings that could benefit your brand as well, depending on the type of site. For example, a .info extension is a great option if you're running an informational site. You could also localize your domain based on your country of residence or operations using i.e. .za, .uk. .us, .ke, and so on. Localized extensions increase your local search optimization and it also differentiates you from an international site.
4) Avoid Hyphens and Numbers.
Most often numbers and hyphens make your domain name harder to recall, pronounce and even type down onto a browser. They also tend to be unattractive to most people and doesn't portray a sense of professionalism and trustworthiness. The best domain names must be smooth, catchy, punchy yet hyphenated domains can’t deliver that feeling. Numbers tend to make it more complicated and harder to master. So, stick to as few letters as possible and completely avoid numbers and hyphens!
5) Consider Using Keywords.
Reliance of keywords when selecting a domain name is a double-edged sword. On one hand, if the keyword is too popular, your domain will end up getting swallowed among the many other domains that share the same keyword. On the other hand, if it’s creatively used it can significantly boost your SEO rankings. You must use the keyword in a way that makes it catchy and not generic. If you use keywords, make sure they are short and at the beginning of the domain name. You can search for keywords using keywordtool.io and Google Keyword Planner.
6) Think Long-Term.
Your domain name will have a significant impact on your long-term business prospects. This is even further pronounced given the increasingly important role of online identity and platform on branding and e-commerce. Keep in mind that if you try to change the domain in the future you’ll lose out on branding, site traffic, money and even SEO rankings. Makes sure the domain you choose would still be relevant 30 years from now. The domain name should capture the widest possible interest and products that the firm might entertain, now and in the foreseeable future.
7) It’s Okay to Append or Modify It.
Sometimes you might find that the most appropriate domain name for your business is taken. The aptest decision is to modify it by adding a prefix or suffix. Make it clever, subtle and intuitive. Make sure that the modification does not alter the message of the domain name. It still has to be familiar, intuitive and relatable to your target audiences. The site traffic should be able to make a positive association between your domain name and what you produce or market. The tweaking comes in handy since you might have to use the same domain name for your social media pages.
Sometimes the most appropriate domain name may not be available because it's been bought out for resale. You can go to auctions and seek to purchase the domain name that was previously in use or bought for resale. There are many investors who buy domains and fill them up with quality links for lead generation and as a means for monetizing them. You can get auctions for domain names at GoDaddy, Sedo, Flippa or Namelet. Getting the right domain name that is short, catchy, intuitive and memorable could generate thousands of dollars in organic searches every year.