No matter if you create a personal or a corporate website, you need a catchy domain name for it. In our step-by-step guide on how to pick a killer domain name we have explained in details how this process goes. But in order to make every step of the guide work, you will need to consider some aspects of choosing the domain name.
(See also: The Practical Guide on Picking a Domain Name For Your Site)
Do I need a descriptive domain name or a brand name?
If you are a company it is a good idea to come up with a brand name and make your website around that brand. Just like us – Oxxy is our brand name and oxxy.com is our website. But if you make a personal website, choosing a separate brand name is a bit useless as it is better to promote your own name.
It also depends on what kind of traffic you will rely on. If you plan on getting most of your visitors from search engines, then picking a descriptive domain is better. When choosing such domain name, try to find what people are looking for in your industry as your goal will be to increase your search ranking.
Many big companies does not rely on organic traffic as they have bigger marketing budgets and use paid ads or banners. When you do that, you can easily go for a brandable domain name.
Is my domain name unique?
No matter what kind of domain name you decide to buy – descriptive or brandable, it must be unique. You do not want to get confused with other companies out there, especially with companies from your niche.
It is also important to pay attention not to violate other companies’ trademarks. The best place to check that is in the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Global Brand Database.
And by making your domain name unique, we do not mean making it slightly different from that of an already registered and established website. So do not assume that registering the plural form will make you distinguishable enough.
Is my domain name catchy?
People tend to remember catchy phrases easier. That means that it does not matter how long your domain name is (but do not make it more than 10 characters). The best case scenario is to choose a short and very catchy domain – like moz.com or oxxy.com. But if you cannot come up with this kind of domain names, or all of them have already been registered, go for a longer but more descriptive one.
The reason to that is that people will always remember easier phrases that actually mean something than just random letters.
What domain name suffix to choose?
Another important thing to consider is the domain name suffix, or to put it simply – how your domain name will end. The three most popular extensions are .com (stands for commercial), .net (stands for network) and .org (stands for organization). Although all three of them represent a certain category, their use is now unrestricted and you can register them no matter what kind of website you create.
Other popular extensions include .info (originally for informational websites), .biz (stands for business) and .me (originally for personal websites). All of them are also with unrestricted use.
Not as popular, but surely an option worth considering are the so called new gTLD. You can check out a list of these extension on Name.com. The new top-level domains are interesting as you can combine the domain name extension with the first part of your name, making it a catchy phrase – just like reservation.tools.
The third option is to go for a country code top-level domain, like .us for the USA or .de for Germany. Note that country code top-level domains are a bit more expensive and you can register some of them only under certain conditions.
Most SEO and marketing experts advise people to register only .com available domains. If you browse the internet regularly, you have noticed that most websites use the .com suffix. One popular opinion is that most people assume all websites use .com domains and if you do not want to confuse them, maybe you should go for it too.
Does the domain name make any sense?
Imagine that you have a great idea for your domain name. You have done all necessary research and you have seen that it is available and unique. But then you realize it does not make any sense at all. If your domain name sounds irrelevant to the idea of your website, or if it does not mean anything at all and sounds strange when pronounced, this is a huge sign you should start all over again.
For brand names and domain names it is very important to be logical. Even if they do not mean anything, they should not sound like nonsense and should not confuse your visitors that your company is doing something else.
Do I need the right spelling?
That is an interesting questions and most people would instantly say that the spelling of your domain name should be perfect. But on second thought sometimes it is not so bad to make a mistake and can show creativity. For example, Flickr should be spelled Flicker and Digg should be spelled Dig. Recently, we brainstormed about a new domain name and one of the proposals was to include the word “planner”. But as we wanted to make it shorter and to be more creative we thought of using the word “planr”.
To sum it up, there is not a strict formula whether you need the right spelling. As far as, your domain sounds good and catchy, you are good to go.
Can I pivot later on?
If you choose a descriptive domain name, there is an important aspect to consider – can you pivot later on. Imagine you register a domain name that is something like “smartphone-repair-services”. Your site gets popular and you get a lot of visitors and new customers. But later on you decide that you want to repair not only smartphones but also tablets and computers. Or even more drastic – cars. But you cannot now use your domain name as it will confuse your visitors and you will need to register a new one.
And that is one of the biggest advantages of brandable names. Even if you decide to chase a completely different niche, you are good to go with your brand name. And that applies not only to domain names, but as a general rule in marketing and branding.
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