There are a whole bunch of things to consider when choosing a domain name. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first domain or if you’ve bought hundreds of them before. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rebrand, a new build or even your first ever website. The principals and thought process are fundamentally the same so this article should serve a purpose for everyone who is or will be in the market to purchase a domain name.
The reasoning and specifics of the domain name will change project to project. What might be a great fit for one person or project might not be the same for another. Whilst you can apply somewhat of a blanket thought process to buying domain names there will inevitably be questions posted each time whose answers will be determined solely by the project at hand. So let’s get started.
Outside of domain names, you want a brand that is going to work for you and your business and domain names are no different. You need something that suits your business. What works for one business type will not work for another so you need to choose something that works for your industry. On top of that it needs to be something memorable, something that your customers will remember and recall the next time they want to purchase your product or services. If you can come up with something both memorable, something that fits your business and can easily be recalled then you’ll be onto a winner. You should also make sure that the domain name passes the “radio test” or word of mouth test so if someone is talking about your brand/domain name they don’t even up going to the wrong place.
The right domain name can help you generate traffic via search engines such as Google or Bing. Keyword based or “exact match” domains can give you an advantage in search position and obviously better search positions equals more traffic. Although this is not as much as a factor as it used to be the right domain name can still help massively. However, it’s a bit of a trade off as a keyword based domain name is only good if you offer a highly specific single product or service. If you offer multiple products and services it’s going to be hard to come up with a domain name so suit them all. Keyword based domain names can also be quite expensive as they have a high resale value on the aftermarket.
Another important thing to consider is the extension of the domain name itself. There are so many extensions available these days that it can be often hard to choose. You can see an example of most of them here. If you want to scream professionalism then you’re best going with the tried and tested .com or .co.uk, however there are literally thousands of extensions now available so if you want to go for something a bit out there like .ninja or just want a regular extension like .co because you find the .com is taken then there are options out there.
The renewal price is something you need to watch out for. Lots of domain name registrars punt out introductory offers for ridiculously cheap domain names only to hit you with a renewal fee that ends up at five or six times the cost! This is something you need to watch out for. The price you pay day one and the price you’ll pay come renewal time should both be considered equally. Some of the newer extensions have offers such as these in place with all major registrars so whilst they may look like attractive bargains initially, they’re really not.
Another important factor is the geolocation. You will obviously be able to choose from global extensions or country specific like .co.uk if you’re in the UK. Where your audience are based should be a factor in making this decision.
As you can see there are quite a few things to consider when choosing a domain name before you even get to the specifics of the domain name itself. Far too often people dive in and choose a domain name that they simply think sounds good rather than going through the above process and analysing each of the above factors. This often leads to people rebranding further down the line or simply not using the domain at all, choosing something else and letting it drop. This can be costly so in my opinion it’s definitely a better idea to choose something that works day one.