Choosing the best domain name

Getting ready to launch a new business or website? Choosing the best domain name is an important step.

Here are our top five tips to follow when deciding on a domain name. Getting it right from very beginning is much better and less costly (in time, energy, money, SEO, and brand recognition) than trying to correct course later on.

1. The .com domain name is still the best option

Even people who are not tech savvy will assume “.com” is your probable domain name extension. It’s becoming more difficult to find relevant and catchy .com domain names open for purchase. We like the easy search bar on GoDaddy.com to find availability and possible variations. Try your business name or a phrase describing your service in keywords. For example, if FetchingFinn.com is taken, BestBrandDesign.com might be a strong alternative.

A country extension such as .ca is an excellent second choice. With the price of domain name registration being quite affordable (roughly $10-$25/year), consider buying both the .com and .ca versions. This is an easy way to help protect your brand. Vanity extensions like .photography or .guru are less popular and usually a bit more expensive. You’ll only use one as your web address, but you can redirect traffic from any of your other domain names to your website URL.

2. Buy your own name, too

If your personal name is available as a domain name, it’s wise to snatch it up during your search. Heck, grab your kids’ names, too. These domains could be valuable for personal branding and promotions down the road. Even more importantly, you don’t want searches for you coming up with unfavorable results. My married name is the same as a popular XXX porn star with dynamite search engine ranking. I’ve had business contacts ask if I’m that busty brunette they found Google. Take it from me: it’s best to control what you can.

3. Select a name that’s consistent across many platforms

Use Namechk to see if your domain name and handle is available across your favorite social media platforms. Aim for them all to be identical for brand consistency and recognition. Some platforms will limit the number of characters you use in your handle, so…

4. Choose short domain names that are easy to spell

Short domain names are manageable to write or type and help decrease the chance of errors. Put your domain name to the verbal test by saying and spelling it as you would over the phone. Some letters can be confusing. For example, I am constantly spelling out “F as in Frank, Fetching as in fetching a ball, F as in Frank, i, n n…that’s two N’s in Finn”. Equally painful are domain names with numbers and clever alterations, such as Gr8WebXpertz.com. Recognizable words and familiar spellings are always the best domain name options.

5. Beware of repeated letters and hidden words

Repeated letters and unintentional word recognition can be a nightmare. Before you choose your domain name, take a good look at it and be sure you’re not missing the obvious. A domain name like businessschool.com makes you go a little cross-eyed and is begging to be misspelled. Then there are cases like penisland.com. I’m betting you didn’t think that was a web address for Pen Island, right?

Nikki Takahashi

Many entrepreneurs miss the spotlight they deserve because their branding and marketing doesn't do them justice. Promoting a brand that feels misaligned or uninspiring is just plain wrong. I've helped nearly 300 entrepreneurs design brands that fit and get noticed. Let's give your inner rebel a visual and a voice that you'll be proud and excited to promote!