In a recent discussion I found myself in a debate on what’s the best method to use when choosing your domain name for your new website. What quickly became apparent is that there were two distinct issues being discussed – naming and branding your website, and search engine optimization (SEO).
So, as you think about chosing your domain I have a couple thoughts to offer:
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in previous blog posts you have to think through what it is that you’re trying to do with your website. Is it a blog? Is it an ecommerce store? Is it a new company site? As you build your ideas on how you want to build your site your ideas on how to name it should become clearer.
Keep in mind that this is the place where the those who live in the internet world will come to find your business. You want it to communicate the culture and professionalism (or lack thereof) of your organization. There’s nothing at all with having a laid-back casual site if that’s the way you or your company operate. Just remember that when you’re printing your business cards that the website address will be on there and it needs to be consistent with who you are.
Creative or Generic?
Now, that being said, I suggest that domain names are related to your company. I don’t like generic. To me, it says, “not creative” and I don’t think it does you or your blog/business any good to lump yourself in with all those who also chose not to be creative. So be creative when chosing your domain and make it reflect your personality – search engine optimization comes later and is an entirely different story.
Long or short?
Long domains are just a pain to type in to a browser, so keep it short, but readable and where it can make sense. If your company is called “Emerald Coast Outfitters” then a domain that is EmeraldCoastOutfitters.com is perfectly fine because it’s memorable and is easily spelled. However if you are Johann Sebastian Bonhoeffer, I would suggest finding something that is more user-friendly like JohannOnline.com. You can also use increasingly popular possessive pronouns – my, the, our as a prefix to your name.
To hyphen or not to hyphen – that is the question…
Don’t use hyphens if you don’t have to. Why? Simply put, they’re hard to remember, awkward to communicate, and are clumsy. I’ve met several people who’ve used them, and they’ve regretted ever registering domains with dashes. They’re not easy to type, “John DASH Smith DASH Serivices….” and people will tend to forget them when they’re looking for you via direct url input, thereby sending them somewhere else which you do NOT want to do.
Lastly, if you can get the .com for your preferred name – do it NOW! Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If that fails, grab the .net version, and/or the dot .us version. There are numerous top-level domains, but these are among the most popular and memorable. I personally don’t care for .info, .cc or .biz names and I think that using a little creativity you can find a top-level domain name that’s available.