You have the perfect business name. You have your business license and permit, and your federal and state tax IDs. You paid a lawyer to finalize your business structure. All of your marketing materials have been designed and printed. Then, something unexpected happens…
You discover that your perfect business domain is taken.
In a perfect world, you would type in your business name on a domain registration website and it would be available for you to purchase. Unfortunately, this is rarely what happens. As of this article, there are over 380 million registered domain names, and more than 18 million will be registered this year alone. Finding out that your perfect domain name is taken can be frustrating, but there are things you can do. In this Balboa Capital blog article, we explain how to pick the best domain name.
Your domain name can make or break you.
We all know that first impressions are important in business. It only takes a few seconds for people to formulate their own opinions about your logo, storefront, and physical establishment. Well, the same holds true with your domain name. A good domain name can make a positive first impression and help generate clicks to your website. On the other hand, a domain name that is hard to understand or that does not represent your brand might cause people to bypass your link and look at other options. Keep this in mind as you read these tips on how to pick a domain name for your business.
Keep it short and simple.
When you are creating a list of potential domain names for your business, there are best practices to follow. For starters, the length of your domain name is extremely important. A short domain name is easier to remember and type into web browsers, and that means users are more likely to find your website. A short domain name also looks better on your business cards, letterhead, and other marketing materials because it takes up less space. Digital marketing experts agree that a domain should be between 6 to 15 characters long.
A long or complicated domain name will be difficult for people to pronounce, remember and type. For example, if you have a domain name with, say 30 characters, you would have to repeat the domain a number of times in order for it to be remembered. Moreover, a long domain name will make each of your website URLs (landing pages, product pages, blog posts, etc.) long, too. Long domain names and long URLs might not negatively affect your search engine optimization (SEO), but they are not as user-friendly.
Choose a top-level domain.
You have probably seen or heard the phrase “dot com.” This is the most widely used top-level domain (TLD) in the world. A TLD is the ending to your domain name, such as .com, .net, or .biz. A .com address is the best option because it has the highest “digital property value” and can populate higher in search results. Because .com domains are so popular, it can be difficult to find one that is still available to purchase. You will notice this when looking for domain names online.
Check to see if the name is trademarked.
Just because a domain name is available does not mean that you can use it without running into legal trouble down the road. For example, a computer store that uses a domain name that is similar to apple.com, microsoft.com or dell.com might receive a takedown notice. So, once you have narrowed down your list of favorite domain names that are available, make sure they do not have trademarks registered to the name. To do this, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website or contact an intellectual property (IP) lawyer.
Once you get that out of the way, you should check to see if the domain name is available on the most popular social networks (if you do not already use social media for your business.) Having the same name across your website domain and social media helps build your brand and makes it easy for your customers and followers to find you online. You can visit each social network one-by-one to see if your domain name is being used, or use one of the free online tools that check for the use of your domain name and username online.
Before you register your domain.
You are approaching the finish line, but you need to do one more thing before pressing the “purchase” button on that domain name website: You need to be 100% sold on the domain. It sounds simple, but choosing a domain name is a big decision that will define and impact your small business now and into the future. If there is any hesitancy on your part, you should keep looking. After all, think of how much time, energy and money it will take to change your domain name and company brand in the future.
If you are happy with the domain name and it meets all of your branding requirements, it is time to get started. When purchasing your domain name from a registrar company/website hosting company such as GoDaddy, you have the option of adding an SSL certificate for security, custom email addresses that match your domain, privacy protection, and website hosting. In addition, you might be able to save money by reserving your domain name for multiple years.
Protect your domain name.
If you want to keep your domain from being used with another TLD, you can buy the .net, .biz and .co versions of your domain and renew them each year. Please note that there are more than 1,000 different TLDs available, but you only need to focus on the original TLDs, excluding .edu (education), .mil (military) and .gov (government).