The first thing people will notice about your website is not the design or the content but the domain name. We’re not trying to intimidate you, but it’s a big deal!
You can change your layout, content, UX, and even the software you use to build your site, but your domain name is for life. Over time, you will change the design of your website, pricing, add or remove products from your assortment, and maybe even change the whole business model, but your domain name will stay the same unless you decide to use a new one - which is not recommended for an already-established business.
That’s why it’s essential to get the right one from the beginning. Your domain name serves a dual purpose: branding and SEO. So, when thinking about how to name your website, try to take everything into consideration.
Expert Tips for Choosing a Domain Name
Considering that you’ll probably make this decision once, it’s necessary to weigh your options and be informed of all the ins and outs of choosing a domain name. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of all the key aspects you need to consider while doing so. Let’s dive in!
Think About Your Brand Name
Choose a brandable domain name. Avoid generic, boring names and go for something that grabs attention. Find a name that will represent your brand and your product line in the best way, instead of choosing one that sounds like a generic string of words.
The domain name can be an already existing word, completely made up, or something in between. For example:
- The most obvious one is Apple. They took the name of common fruit and created one of the biggest brands in the world - a good example of how you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to find a good name. Because many single-word names are already taken, the trending approach that worked for many new brands is taking two words and merging them. It worked well for Snapchat and more serious B2B brands like MailJet. Combining words is a great way to tell the story, purpose, and value while also providing you with a brand name in the process.
- If you have a creative streak, you can use a made-up word as your domain name. Just make sure that the word is easy to write and pronounce because you don’t want to confuse your customers. Most of these made-up names have a fun story behind them, like Mozilla, inspired by the famous pop-culture monster Godzilla.
- Another emerging trend is taking an existing word and misspelling or modifying it. A good example of this practice is Grammarly, an online grammar and spelling checker (which we will later use to check this article for typos before publishing). There’s a reason why domain names are the same as company names. Those two are inseparable, allowing you to kill two birds with one stone.
Occasionally, brands use CTA words such as “get” or “download” in front of their company name to imply the action you should take once on the website. Doing something unique like this can help draw attention to your website. You can always purchase both URLs and eventually direct one to the other.
Pick Something Simple
To avoid confusion, choose a domain name that is easy to spell. If it’s a made-up word, then use conventional spelling. Don’t try to be too clever or creative because it can backfire. If your domain name is hard to pronounce and difficult to type, people will lose patience and just forget about your website altogether, especially when hearing about it through word of mouth.
Moreover, you should avoid hyphens and numbers. While this may make your name unique, it also makes it harder to remember. Confusing or hard-to-spell domains will cause you to lose customers. Striking a balance between memorable/unique and accessible will help you land on the perfect domain name. However, it’s easier said than done, so make sure to brainstorm, research, ask friends and follow our guidelines.
Avoid Domain Name Keyword-Stuffing
Once upon a time, having a relevant keyword(s) in your domain name meant that you would rank better in search results. It was essentially a great SEO hack that could get you ahead of the competition, causing many people to use and abuse this trick. Consequently, the importance of having a keyword-rich domain is declining, and according to every reputable SEO expert, this trend will continue on a downward spiral.
So, what should you do? Don’t force it, and prioritize uniqueness over buzzwords. If you do want to include a keyword, make sure it sounds natural - e.g., if your name is Jo and you are a plumber, then it’s perfectly ok for your domain to be: plumberjo.com.
Choose the Correct Extension
A .com domain name is the most popular choice for a domain extension or for your top-level domain (TLD) since it’s the first extension people think about in association with any website. However, over 50% of all websites have this domain extension, meaning your desired domain could be already taken.
Luckily, there are more domain name extensions available than ever before. When choosing and purchasing your domain, you can pick from a wide variety of domain extensions. As mentioned above, the most common top-level domain is .com, standing for a website with a commercial purpose. So if it’s possible to grab a .com domain name, don’t hesitate to do so.
Other common options include .edu, .biz, .co, .net and .info. All of them have a specific meaning and purpose; the most prominent ones illustrated below:
Recently, extensions related to a specific industry have arisen such as .marketing, .news or even more specific like .broker or .brand. This is still an emerging trend, so maybe you can profit from being the first one to jump on this bandwagon.
Assign a Language to Your Domain
Depending on the location of your business, you can also choose a top-level domain that reflects your country, such as .ca (for Canada). This is suitable for everyone planning to do business locally.
When building your website with Ucraft, you can easily assign a language to your domain via the Languages App. This will help localize your content and reach a wider audience across the globe instead of just sticking to English and leaving users to rely on Google Translate (which is not always accurate, as we all know).
To put this into perspective, picture that your website is in English - e.g., example.com. If you wish to localize your content for the Spanish market, the URL of the Spanish website will be example.com/es. Learn more about this feature here.
Other than disclosing the origin of your company, some country domain extensions can be used for other purposes because of their unique meaning. We have already mentioned that .tv is the country code for Tuvalu, but for obvious reasons, it is used by big media and entertainment companies. Another example is the top-level domain ‘.to’, which is used for How-To websites.
Particularly popular in recent years is the .me domain extension. It can be a good branding tool, and you can use it to personalize your website - e.g., marry.me or connect.me.
Another domain hack that is used mostly by tech startups is the domain extension for British Indian Ocean Territory, or as you all probably know it - the .io domain extension. The reason this unofficial practice came into play is that IO can be an acronym for input/output.
It is important to choose an extension that makes sense for your business and is easy to remember. Choosing the wrong extension because your first choice has been taken can harm your business in the future.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are making the best choice for your business in particular. This means that these tips are just guidelines that you should take into consideration when making this big decision about your domain name; you’re the only one who can know what is best for your business.
Assuming you’ve decided on the perfect domain name, it’s time to go grab it before somebody else does! When setting up a website with Ucraft, you can get your domain name for free in accordance with our yearly plans. Also, when it comes to the security of your domain, make sure you are informed on SSL certificates and the distinction between free vs paid SSL. Note: users will be more likely to leave your website if they see http:// instead of https://.
Likewise, you have the option of connecting an existing domain name through the Domain App by choosing the “connect existing domain” option. The process is simple, and you can learn more about connecting a custom domain here.