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How to Choose a Domain Name Perfect for Your Small Business Website in 2020

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A domain name is more than just your “address” on the web. It’s what people remember whenever they visit your website. And it’s where they connect and interact with your business.

If the domain name is hard to identify or remember, people can’t reach your website.

And once you use a domain name for your website, you can’t edit it. Even if you replace your website address with a different domain name, it can result in loss of web traffic and leads.

So how do you choose a “perfect” domain name?

In this in-depth article, you’ll discover the best ways to choose a good domain name that’s consistent with your brand. Then, you’ll learn the actual steps to find and secure the domain name for your business website.

What is a Domain Name?

According to Kinsta, your website’s domain name is the part between the “http” and the domain name extension (“.com”). But since the top level domain (TLD) like “.com” or “.org” is a domain extension—it’s easier to treat it as part of the whole domain name itself.

So if the URL will look like this: “https://businessname.com”, the domain name is “businessname.com.”

Now before you finalize and implement your business idea or look for the “best web design company,” it’s best practice to finalize your domain name first.

According to domain name statistics, there are now over 416 Billion domain names registered on the web, including your competitors.

So if you should choose a domain name that helps your business stand out and meet your goals—consider the tips below.

How to Choose the Best Domain Name for Your Business

  1. Make it relevant to your brand
  2. Make it a unique but recognizable brand
  3. Keep it short and easy to type
  4. Avoid using numbers and symbols
  5. Use keywords when relevant
  6. Target the .com top-level domain (TLD)
  7. Act fast on your domain name

1. Make it relevant to your brand

You don’t wanna choose a domain name with “bicycles” if you’re selling cars. That’s obvious. So you’d better pick a domain name that reflects your business according to 2 factors:

  • Your niche industry
  • Your location.

If you’re selling marketing services or household products, make sure your domain name communicates that same idea about your business.

Mandy McEwen, a marketing consultant from Mod Girl Marketing, gives this helpful tip:

“You want people to see the domain and have an idea of what it is about without making it too long. Take my domain for example, modgirlmarketing.com. Without knowing anything about my company, you can probably guess it's a marketing company and the person in charge is probably a female.”

At the same time, consider the potential expansion of your business. If your business will go international or expand into different locations in the country, don’t include “newyork” or “chicago” in your domain name.

So for best practices, your domain name should be consistent with your business name, location, or at least your niche. That’s why you should also check your domain first before officially naming your business.

As an article on The Balance SMB said: “You don’t want to go through the process of registering your business only to discover the domain name isn’t available.”

We’ll talk more about checking the domain availability below.

2. Make it a unique but recognizable brand

You don’t always need to put your entire business name in the domain name. It could be a unique “brandable” domain name.

For example, “Bing.com” is a search engine owned by Microsoft Corporation. “Storybrand.com” is a marketing consultancy by Donald Miller Words, LLC.

According to Domain.Me

“Studies show that 77% of customers make purchases based on a brand name. Moreover, 90% of them make purchasing decisions subconsciously, choosing products by brand names that evoke positive emotion.

A good test is to say it out loud and see if it sounds like a good brand. This is true for brands like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and a lot more.

If you need more ideas and inspiration for choosing a brandable domain name, you can check sites like Branpa and Branddo.

Domain and brand name

3. Keep it short and easy to type

Even if your business provides digital marketing services, don’t choose a domain name like “thebestdigitalmarketingbusinessinnewyorktoday.com.”

You didn’t like it either, right?

In his article for Forbes, Denis Pinsky said: 

“Names that don’t require a person to think too hard are usually the easiest to remember, and also more likely to inspire positive associations.”

The easier people can memorize your domain name, the easier they can go back to it.

According to WPBeginner, people are also more prone to entering typo errors with long domains. And that results in losing traffic and potential leads.

Of course, don’t make it TOO short.

In one study cited by Wired, a company tried to shorten its domain name from “overstock.com” to “o.co.” Unfortunately, people instinctively typed “o.com” and were greeted with an “error” message since that website didn’t exist.

The company lost millions of dollars… including the confidence of existing customers.

Choose a domain name that’s short but clear and comprehensible.

4. Avoid using numbers and symbols

A brandable domain name also excludes numbers and symbols like hyphen. An article from Moz explains it this way:

“Brandable, meaning that when you hear or see the domain name, it sounds like a brand. Which means that hyphens and numbers are a real problem because they don't sound like a brand. They sound generic, or strange.“

At the same time, it also increases the risk of typo errors.

If you choose a domain name like “newyork-grill123.com,” how will you tell it to your friend? Will he spell out “newyorkdashgrill123.com?” 

A good domain name is something you can mention verbally without confusing the listener. So stick with words or letters for your domain name.

5. Use keywords when relevant

If you’re wondering whether your domain name will affect your website’s SEO or not—some say yes.

So adding relevant keywords to your domain name can affect your visibility in search engines like Google. 

According to HigherVisibility, websites from various niches/industry gain much traffic when relevant keywords are included in the domain name.

Image source: HigherVisibility

At the same time, keywords give users an immediate idea of what your website is all about. 

If you choose a domain name with the keyword “restaurant,” users will immediately know that you’re a restaurant. If you’re selling an app, the keyword “app” or “software” can do the same thing.

But be careful… Don’t put too much emphasis on keywords.

Although it could contribute to your website’s SEO, it may not largely affect your search ranking due to developments in search engine algorithms.

TechRadar explains it this way:

"If you have a descriptive domain name, it is likely that your keywords are already incorporated into your site’s name. This can be a valuable asset, and provide instant free SEO and digital marketing for your website. [But] although this tactic was a more effective way to improve your SEO rankings years ago, it has become increasingly less effective as Google’s algorithm can penalize poor quality or less visited sites, even if their domain name exactly matches search terms. "

The best way to improve your website’s visibility in search engines is to create more quality content. Not to stuff your domain name with keywords.

As Google itself states: “Many people get caught up trying to choose the perfect name, when that time could be spent building a great brand around a perfectly good domain name.” 

So choose a domain name with minimal keyword(s) — and only if necessary. 

You can combine unique brand names with relevant keywords just like… ah yes, our web design and marketing agency “marketingbyrob.com.” 😉

6. Target the .com top-level domain (TLD)

Until today, the “.com” is still the most popular domain extension especially for businesses. It’s not surprising, given that “.com” stands for “commercial.”

A “.com” communicates credibility and professionalism in your business. So if possible, choose a domain name with a “.com.”

But if the “.com” version for your name isn’t available, you may consider other domain name extensions. Using alternatives extensions shouldn’t be a problem when used strategically and if you still work on the rich content of your website.

According to iWantMyName, there are more than 400 domain name extensions to choose from. But W3Techs suggests that “.co” is the best and most popular alternative for businesses.

Based on the historical trends, “.co” websites dramatically increased since September 2019.

Usage of Co Domains

But another study from the Domain Name Association shows that the registrations for new domain extensions like “.club” “.online” and “.today” increased at 145% in 2017. 

Domain name registrations

New domain extensions may cost more than the traditional “.com.” But these alternatives can still prove effective as long as it’s relevant to your business.

If you’re an app development business, you can use “.dev.” If you’re a local cafe, you can use “.cafe.”

Just choose a domain name extension strategically.

7. Act fast on your domain name

According to domain name statistics, 100,000+ domain names are registered every day. Domains can quickly be gone, especially if you’re using general keywords like “marketing” or “agency.”

Domain name registration statistics

And that means you should act fast when choosing and securing a domain name for your business website.

Now let’s consider where and how to find and secure your domain name.

Steps to Get Your Domain Name

1. Get ideas of a good domain name

Choosing a domain name is much the same as brainstorming for the perfect business name. You can start with your business partners, family and friends. 

But in case you need more ideas, you can check the following sites:

2. Search for any trademark conflicts

Make sure there’s still no existing copyright for that name. Otherwise, you might face the problem of infringement and put your business at risk later on.

You can search for existing trademarks here: USPTO Trademark Database.

3. Choose your domain name and secure it

Once you’re settled with the domain name and there’s no conflict with any trademark, it’s time to check its availability and make it yours.

Now some business owners hire a web design agency or a freelance web developer and ask them to buy and set up the domain name.

BUT here at Marketing by Rob, we recommend that you take full ownership of your domain name. Whatever happens, you should have full access to your business’ “brand name” and “address” on the web.

It’s easy to buy a domain name yourself anyway. Let’s talk more about it below.

A. Use the FREE domain name from your hosting provider

If you plan to hire a web agency to simply design the website while you own the web hosting account, then you can search and buy domain names through your hosting provider. 

Some hosting companies like Bluehost and Hostinger offer a FREE domain name when you avail their hosting plans.

And their system will assist you to set it up at once.

It will be a FREE domain name registration until you renew it after 1 year.

The advantage here is that you manage both your website hosting and domain name in just one place.

B. Buy from domain name servers

The 3rd option to choose a domain name is through domain name “marketplaces” like:

When you visit these sites, you can immediately search for a domain name from their homepage.

The advantage of buying a domain name from a company different from your web hosting provider is risk-management. In case there’s a serious problem with your hosting company, your domain name remains safe.

The disadvantage, however, is a little inconvenience. To make your website live, you’ll need to link your domain name to your web hosting servers.

There are plenty of tutorials you can search online like “how to link Namecheap domain name to Hostinger.” 

But if you want to spare yourself from the trouble, you can ask the web design company or a freelancer you hired to do it for you.

C. Buy expired or existing domain names

The 4th option to get a domain name is by acquiring existing ones online. According to Kinsta, existing or expired domain names could already have:

  • Backlinks
  • Domain authority
  • Search ranking, and
  • Traffic.

These factors present in an “older” domain name can help you get started and rank faster in search engines.

You can use Flippa or Namebio for expired domain names.

However, be careful with these kinds of domain names.

First, make sure there are still no existing trademarks. Second, check the traffic patterns and backlinks of that domain name.

If the traffic drastically went low in the past, or poor websites are linking to it, it could cause a negative SEO. Search engines like Google might mark your domain name as a poor website too.

To check a domain name’s traffic patterns, you can use tools like Ubersuggest or Ahrefs.

4. Protect your privacy

Once you choose a domain name, make sure to include the WHOIS or ICANN privacy feature in your purchase.

As shown in the image below, a domain name with a private WHOIS will omit your personal details. This can help protect you from cyberattacks.

public-and-private-whois

Image source: Foundr

Once you paid for the domain name registration, you‘ll be asked to complete/update the registrant details accordingly.

5. Link your domain name

Once you get a domain name, you need to link it to your web hosting server to make your website live. The website host is the place where you “host” all your website files, images, themes, etc.

As mentioned earlier, you can search for tutorials online based on your domain name and hosting provider. Like “how to link Godaddy domain to Bluehost.”

Or let the freelancer or web design agency you hired do it for you.

Summary: How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Business in 2020

Your domain name is your business name online. It’s everywhere you present your business to prospects and customers.

As an article from Foundr says:

"The success of your business can hinge on your choice of domain name. It’s closely connected to your online brand—your website, your emails, and all of your digital marketing. It is how your customers remember you and find you online."

Though it’s no longer easy or possible to choose a domain name like “events.com” you can still get a unique and memorable domain name using these tips:

  • Choose a name consistent to your brand or niche
  • Make it brandable
  • Keep it short, easy to type and remember
  • Avoid numbers and symbols
  • Use keywords if relevant
  • Target the .com extension or use alternatives strategically
  • Act fast and buy your domain name immediately.

Just keep in mind that your website’s success still depends on the overall content and offer of your business.

But you can get more impressions and leads with a good domain name, putting you in a better position for online success.

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