How to Select a Great Domain Name for Your Company
Here's what to look for in a good domain name.
1. A good domain name is relatively short. A short name -- if you can get it -- is important for several reasons. It is easy to fit into logos, makes a better brand, is more easily recognizable, and is harder to misspell. Some companies have 50-character domain names spelling out their whole company name. That's unwise. Long domain names don't fit in forms, on billboards, or in Google PPC ads. Keep them relatively short.
2. A good domain name is memorable. You remember generic names, such as Art.com and Garden.com. But you also remember more unique names such as Amazon.com, Google.com, and FogDog.com. Putting together strange combinations of words is fun and can be very productive. It helps if it rhymes like FogDog, or repeats sounds such as Google, or is sing-songy like WilsonWeb. Say your prospective domain name out loud to listen to its sounds. See if your tongue gets twisted around any syllables. Whatever your domain name, it should stick in the mind.
3. A good domain name isn't easily confused with others. In their desperation to find a domain name, some grasped at hyphenated names and put "the" in front of a word, as in TheStandard.com. The problem is confusion. Trademark laws are designed to prevent customer confusion. If the holder of a similar domain name is first to trademark his combination, it could threaten your domain name, or at least your ability to use it as a brand. Be sure to check with the US Patent and Trademark database (www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm) or the trademark database for your country. Another consideration is how you'll need to say your domain name over the phone. If you always have to say "spelled ding-hyphen-doodle.com" you'll soon wish you'd left out the hyphens. Do your best to find a name that can't be confused.
4. A good domain name is hard to misspell. If people can misspell something, they will. The longer and more complex your domain name, the harder it is for your customers to type it in correctly. Many of them can't type well to start with, so to type in a long name may lose you lots of business. At the low price of domain names, it may pay you to purchase the misspellings of a domain name, too. This way you'll get the traffic intended for your site and discourage poachers from buying up the variants. Poachers can be driven off by lawsuits if you have trademark protection, but you don't want that hassle.
5. A good domain name relates to your business name or core business. It's best if your domain name can be guessed from your company name. But in your search for a domain name, don't give up if you can't find the domain for your exact business name. Find functional names, names that describe your uniqueness, names that express an emotion or attitude.
6. A good domain name sounds solid to your target audience. If possible, get a .com domain or the domain that has the most respect in your country. You can get a .biz or .info, or .cc, .ws, .tv, and .to. (The latter are the country top level domains of the small nations of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, (Western) Samoa, Tuvalu, and Tonga, respectively). The problem is that the general public, in the US anyway, is accustomed to .com, or maybe .net (though .net and .org aren't nearly as well regarded). Offbeat domain names sound ... offbeat and suspect. Your main domain should be the one that people expect it to be. In the US, that's probably .com. In France it would be .fr. If you want to appeal to an international audience, .com is probably best. Having said that, I think it's wise to buy up other common domain name endings. They're cheap. If you become successful you'll wish you had kept them away from poachers. This helps your main domain name stay unique.
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