How to Choose a Great Domain Name for Your Business Website
Technology is approaching the point where a company’s web domain name is more important than the sign on your business’s door. In fact, many companies only operate in the digital market, so there is no sign on the door. No door!
The name you choose for your website — its domain name — is at least as important as the name of your business. In many instances, it’s the only name your customers or clients will recognize you. So you need to give it as much attention as your web design, navigation, and message flow.
Here are a few tips we think will help you select a domain name that will help you strengthen your brand, increase awareness, draw your targeted customers, and boost sales.
1. Get 'generic' out of your system (and most likely move on)
There was a time when you’d be declared a marketing whiz if you were able to claim a generic domain name. That might still be the case today, though the odds are against it. Let’s start with a brief definition.
A generic domain name is one that reflects an entire industry, product line, or another way of segmenting your audience. Examples include real-life and presumably successful names such as Shoes.com, Boxes.com, and Cars.com.
The generic domain name Business.com sold for $7.5 million in 1999. Eight years later, it got resold for $345 million. So yeah, there’s a payoff behind that marketing strategy. Or there used to be.
Generic domain names were particularly clever in the early days of the internet before web surfers had heard of or learned how to use search engines. With no other way to find what they were looking for, these early customers used the most obvious approach. If they were looking to buy shoes, for instance, the first thought of many was to see if there was such a thing as Shoes.com.
Two things have happened in the meantime. First, virtually everyone has learned to conduct their web searches through Google or other search engines. And second, most of the best generic domain names have been taken. Unfortunately, they’re either unavailable or can only be purchased from cybersquatters for often outrageous prices.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore this naming strategy altogether. If the products or services you sell are easy to define with a single word or two, and if the domain name accurately defines what you offer — and it’s available — go for it.
Keep in mind the wrong generic name can do more harm than good. If you owned a hardware store and claimed the domain name PowerSanders.com, you’d be a hot commodity for buyers of power sanders in your city and beyond. But what percent of your overall business does that product category represent? Unless you can afford the cost, labor, and hassle of buying and using hundreds of generic domain names representing your full stock of merchandise, it’s probably not a great strategy.
2. Keep it simple
The simplest and often most effective strategy is to name your website after your company. Duh. But let’s say the name of your business is Dinkle, a Metal Fabrication Company. The domain name DinkleaMetalFabricationCompany.com doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, does it?
The longer a website name, the easier it is to forget. Very long websites look like too much of a hassle to click on and visit. And who knows where your customers will end up if they misspell a difficult name.
Let’s say you own a Cleveland-based company called Lemanczyk Automotive Sales and Service. You’re going to suffer a lot of missed web visits if most of that is included in your domain name. Can you instead call yourself ClevelandFord.com?
What name do your customers actually use? In that prior example, do they call your company Dinkle? If so, is Dinkle.com available? If not, can you adjust it slightly while still maintaining memorability? Consider DinkleMetal.com. Or DinklePittsburgh.com (your imaginary hometown).
Whatever name you choose, you’re going to make that simple-as-possible domain name a prominent part of all of your marketing efforts. That’s critical. Your customers might first find you with a bit of search engine research. But once they’ve found your company, you don’t want them having to Google you again. Next time, they might instead find a competitor. So keep your simple name before their eyes until they’ve got it pounded into their brains.
3. Consider your suffix
By this, we’re referring to the words after the “dot” on our domain name. Also known as the top-level domain, or TLD, common suffixes include .com, .net, and .org. Today there are more than 1,500 such suffixes in use.
Some, such as country TLDs, are restricted to that nation. Other restrictions apply to some other TLDs, such as .gov for government sites and .edu for universities and other educational institutions. However, that still gives commercial advertisers almost endless choices. Shoes.com is taken, but how about Shoes.net? (Actually, it’s owned and available for sale by a cybersquatter … but you see what we mean.)
The downside to using lesser-known TLDs is that .com is by far the most widely accepted suffix by commerce-seeking audiences. So if you use something else, you’d better dedicate significant resources to promoting your more unique domain name and making sure your audience knows it.
4. Coordinate your domain name with your vanity phone number
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Your company name, domain name, or vanity phone number? It doesn’t really matter in cases where you can tie it all together to reinforce awareness and acceptance among your targeted audience.
Consider 1800Flowers.com, the domain associated with the famous vanity phone number 1-800-Flowers. Or Federal Express, which can be accessed by phone at 800-GO-FEDEX or online at FedEx.com. (As another example of domain name simplification, you can also get this same domain by typing FederalExpress.com, but the company made it easier for all.)
5. Think like your customers
This is just a way of wrapping up everything we’ve just explained. Your ultimate goal is to figure out the thinking process your customers or clients use in reaching out to find your business online. Get there ahead of them with a domain name that would make sense to those trying to navigate your way.
Or course, sometimes you must try to redirect their thinking. Let’s return to an earlier example. You took the nearly impossible-to-spell Lemanczyk Automotive Sales and Service and changed it to ClevelandFord.com. You’re still thinking like your customers. Or, more accurately, predicting where their thoughts would rather go.
It might take a little while, but make sure you adopt a naming strategy that leaves you confident that your customers will get where you want to take them sooner rather than later.
At Aftermarket.com, we’ll work with you to develop a vanity phone number that will work ideally with your company and domain name, marketing thrust, culture, and objectives.
Let’s talk domain names and vanity phone numbers. Visit us today.