The process of domain name registration is quick, simple and affordable.  However, careful consideration should be made when choosing the domain name you wish to register.  Changing your mind after the fact adds costs and may complicate the structure of your website.

Your domain name is made of two components, each requiring special attention:

  • Domain
  • TLD (Top Level Domain – .com .net .org)

Your domain name is one of the 3 basic items to build a website.  Simply put – it is the address humans use to locate you on the internet.  For this article I’m going to do things a little differently and work backwards.  The first section will be about choosing the right TLD, followed by choosing the right domain.

Choosing the right TLD

Up until fairly recently, unique TLD’s were considered taboo by Search Engines and as such have mostly been avoided.  Now though, it seems Google has adjusted it’s search algorithms to allow unique TLD’s to rank just as well as their “classic” .com counterparts.

That being said, if you decide to choose a unique TLD for your domain name, the extension should be relevant to the brand or product relating to your website.

For example a web design agency with the extension .band will be incorrectly indexed, gain absolutely no SEO advantage and fall well behind its competitors.

In contrast, a musical group with a .band TLD could gain a very positive boost, as the extension is clearly relevant to the product/brand/service.

Location plays a role in choosing the correct TLD also.  This website uses the .com.au TLD, which helps to inform search engines that this website is connected to a business located in Australia.  This provides the correct search engine index, which is advantageous for local search.

Most small businesses should still opt for a local extension. Unless you’ve got a global institution with a global market, this is still the best option.

Choosing the right Domain

Just as your TLD needs to be relevant, so too does the name of your domain.  Using this website as an example, having the words “web design” in the domain tells visitors and search engines exactly what this website is about.

Keeping your domain name length as short as possible is also worth recommending.  This domain name is the very maximum length I would consider acceptable.

Here’s a quick checklist of things to consider:

  • Keep it simple
  • Keep it relevant (consider using keywords)
  • Keep it short
  • Keep it local (or relevant to the location of your market)
  • Check availability (You can do that right here)
  • Consider getting more than one extension to protect your brand
  • Be quick about it!

The last two points, getting more than one extension and being quick about it, may not seem like high priority suggestions to some readers.

It wasn’t until I saw with my own eyes the audacity of some “people” who deliberately steal, mimic or undermine other companies and brands.  These parasites are referred to as “cyber squatters”.  They prey on domains that may have lapsed registration, or they see a competitors website with only one TLD, so they purchase other relevant extensions, holding the genuine business owner at ransom.

I have absolutely no idea why anyone on this earth would want to do such a thing, but the fact is there are people who actively do this, so protect yourself.

Do NOT Hyphenate

Think carefully about your brand name and how the domain will appear in the address bar.  Avoid using hyphenated phrases as it can create confusion and make for a poor user experience.  Know-what-I-mean?

Although there is an exception to every rule.

For example, Who Represents (a website that lists bands and the agents who represent them) is published under the domain of whorepresents.com, which as you can see when reading the two words together, could create confusion.

After all, we wouldn’t want anyone thinking our band/agent listing website was located on a street corner, or under a red-light, giving presents in more ways than one…

Yeah, perhaps these guys could have used a hyphen in their domain, or taken more time choosing a brand name.

Do you have any interesting stories to share about Choosing the right Domain?  If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, learned something or have anything to add, leave a Comment below.

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