Web Domain Names: What’s in a Name?

by dhiram

Domain names are one of the most basic building blocks of a website. Anyone looking to start their own site needs one, but it’s not as simple as just choosing a name you like the sound of. Your chosen name will encapsulate your online brand and stay with you for the long haul, so there are numerous factors you need to consider when making your final choice. When handled thoughtfully, your domain name can facilitate a stronger web presence and even improve the visibility of your site on search engines. Here are a few vital considerations for getting the most out of your web domain.

A name to remember
In the same way as the name on a shop sign, your domain name is your brand in a nutshell. It is the aspect of your business or blog that visitors will judge you by, before they’ve even entered. For this reason, it’s one of the key start-up technology challenges people face. It can be a useful tool to indicate to potential visitors what your site contains, but it’s also a great opportunity to cement your unique identity. It’s tempting to stuff it with keywords, but this may not be the best approach to establish a recognizable online brand that you can build on. Instead, focus on your online image and how you want to come across.

Choosing a TLD
The choice of top-level domain (TLD) might not seem as important as the name itself, but it offers further opportunities for creativity. The standard is .com for good reason – it displays a higher level of credibility than TLDs such as .biz or.net, but is also more authoritative from an SEO perspective. It’s also the most common TLD, so if people already know the name of your brand they will probably expect your web address to end in .com, so it’s a wise choice. However, new TLDs offer great scope for creativity and to indicate the purpose of your website, as described earlier. If you’re building a website for your coffee shop, for example, using a .coffee TLD in combination with your company name is a powerful way of communicating both brand and purpose.

At this stage, make a list of potential domain name and TLD combinations and judge them based on the considerations above. Also bear in mind that your ideal choice may have already been registered, especially if it’s a .com domain, so make sure to check it’s available before making a final decision.

Multiple domain purchasing
Your domain is more than a name, it’s an online asset. Like any other asset, it ought to be protected. Purchasing variations of your domain name is a great way to go about this because it minimizes the risk of someone else undermining your brand by registering a very similar one to yours. The most obvious example of this is multiple TLDs; if you register ‘example.com’, someone else could quite happily register ‘example.org’, ‘example.blog’, and so on. This puts you at a disadvantage because it dilutes your brand and you may be missing out on traffic. This can also apply for slight variations of the name itself. Simply register a few variations and direct them to your core domain.

Background checks
One thing you may have considered is that your chosen domain name may come with strings attached. It’s not so uncommon for people to purchase a second hand domain, perhaps even unknowingly, only to find its ownership history makes it unsuitable for them. This is especially true from an SEO perspective, since the domain could have been penalized in the past, have undesirable backlinks, or be associated with irrelevant keywords. Luckily, there are several ways you can audit a potential domain, from a simple Google search to looking up domain registry information and backlink evaluation. Have a look at this guide for more details.

With these considerations in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to choose a domain name that will strengthen your online presence, both from a user and SEO perspective.