A domain name is your website address to the online world Choosing a domain name is one of the biggest decisions you have to make with regards to your online business. Here are some tips on how to pick one that will work for you.
Note, in most cases it is appropriate to buy multiple domain names and point them to one place but here I will discuss how to choose your ‘primary’ domain name, that is, the one you use for your website and emails.
There are two starting points when choosing a domain; you can base the name on your company name—or you can pick a generic domain name that encompasses your main SEO keywords (the phrase people would enter into Google to find your site).
If it’s a company name it’s quite straight forward. However, you can gain some SEO advantage if you go for a domain name that has your main search engines keywords in it.
For example, if my company was called John T Smith Trading I could go for johntsmithtrading.co.uk. But John T Smith Trading actually sells green steel bicycles. No one online has really heard of John T Smith Trading but lots of people (in my make–believe world anyway) are wanting green steel bicycles so I could choose greensteelbicycles.co.uk.
They both have their pros and cons. My company name is unlikely to change so perhaps johntsmithtrading.co.uk will age better—but won’t get that head start on the search engines. On the other hand, greensteelbicycles.co.uk will be a quicker success on Google but what happens if the market no longer wants to buy green steel bicycles? Then you are left with a rather useless domain name—and changing your domain name further down the line is not easy to do, without losing some of your search engine rankings.
As the owner of your business, the choice is yours to make.
Make sure your domain name is easy to remember. You never know when you might get the opportunity to plug yourself at a time when you don’t have a business card to hand. The more memorable the domain name is, the more likely that individual is to look at your site when they get home.
Similarly, it’s better to keep your domain name as short as possible for the same reasons as above. A longer domain name is not only harder to remember but is more likely to be misspelled.
There are certain generic domain name types such as .com, .org and .net; however, most are country–specific. The main domain name type for the UK is .co.uk. As a rule-of-thumb I say that if you are dealing primarily with UK clients go for .co.uk. Otherwise, .com.
Unless you have any kind of legal right to the domain name (e.g. if they’re passing themselves off as your company) your only way to get the domain name off them is to contact the company and make them an offer.
If you can’t do that you’ll have to think of alternatives. You can try adding hyphens to separate the words and/or try alternate wording.