17 May How to choose a domain name
What is a domain?
A domain name is your website name. A domain name is the address where Internet users can access your website. A domain name is used for finding and identifying computers on the Internet. Computers use IP addresses, which are a series of number. However, it is difficult for humans to remember strings of numbers. Because of this, domain names were developed and used to identify entities on the Internet rather than using IP addresses.
A domain name can be any combination of letters and numbers, and it can be used in combination of the various domain name extensions, such as .com, .net and more.
The domain name must be registered before you can use it. Every domain name is unique. No two websites can have the same domain name. If someone types in www.yourdomain.com, it will go to your website and no one else’s. For example, if your website was a home, your domain name would be its address. More precisely, every website in the world is attributed a specific IP address. But since this one comes in the shape of a series of numbers and dots, it makes it extremely hard for human visitors to remember and type. Therefore, domain names were created – which is basically the legible label connected to the specific IP of a site. All domains ‘live’ on the domain name system (DNS), which is a universal system that assigns addresses to servers and web pages.
Why is having your own domain name so important?
- Whether you own an existing business or have an idea for a startup, you need a strong online presence. Usually, the first thing your potential customer will do when searching out your product or service is to conduct a web search, and if your website is relatively easy to find and navigate, you’ll greatly increase your chances of a sale.
- With most of shopping happening on the internet, the dynamic of marketing has changed significantly, and one of the most effective and lasting methods of reaching potential customers is through a well-developed and maintained website. From a marketing standpoint, you can create a lasting brand image with the right domain name.
- Your website is the first impression you make on the Internet. A customized domain name looks professional and alerts
customers that your site is authoritative and credible.
- It makes your website easier to find, as a domain name can be more easily remembered than an IP address (a series of dots and numbers). And if you change your web host (more on this below), you will still be able to keep the same domain, making your online presence stable over time.
- Acquiring your own domain is a necessary step if you plan on getting your own business email address (with your brand name after the ‘@’).
- From an SEO point of view, your domain name gives Google an indication of what your website is all about. Thus, increasing your chances of ranking higher in search results.
Altogether, these factors contribute to your online visibility, which translates into more business opportunities, and ultimately – more sales. Therefore, registering your own domain is a crucial step to take when creating your own professional website.
Domain name structure
The structure of what we usually call a ‘domain name’ is made of two parts: the actual name (Second Level Domain) and the extension (Top Level Domain). It’s important to understand this, to avoid registering the wrong one. Unlike the English language, domain names are read from right to left. This explains why the ‘Top Level’ section is the last part to appear in your URL.
- SLDs: The Second Level Domain is the actual ‘name’ of your domain. In many ways, your SLD is the identity of your website and should therefore represent your services or products. For example, taking the domain melbourne.com, the SLD part would be melbourne.
- TLDs: A Top-Level Domain refers to the last segment of a domain name, after the last ‘dot’ in your URL. The most common TLDs that you’ve encountered when browsing the Web are ‘.com’, ‘.net’, ‘.edu’, and ‘.org’. Here are the main groups of TLDs that businesses and can acquire:
- gTLD: Generic Top-Level Domains are the most common extensions you will find such as: ‘.com’ or ‘.org’. With time and the growing demand, more gTLDs were offered to website owners – the list now counts more than 1,000, including ‘.design’, ‘.biz’, or ‘. guru’. These extensions are available for registration – although some registered gTLDs, such as ‘.name’ or ‘.pro’, will require proof of eligibility within the guidelines set for each.
- ccTLD: Country Code Top Level Domains give recognition to a specific country, usually in the form of two letters. For example, ‘.us’ stands for United States or ‘.za’ for South Africa.
Did you know? You’ve probably heard about the word ‘URL’. This abbreviation (that stands for Uniform Resource Locator) describes what you see in your browser when you’re reading a web page. It’s made of the following elements, from left to right:
The transfer protocol (HTTPs or HTTP) + The machine name (‘www.’) + The Second Level Domain Name + The Top-Level Domain Name + The folders and directories (each specific page of the website)
How to choose a good domain name
Now that the crucial concepts have been explained, it’s time to get into what makes a good domain name. For your domain to be successful, it needs to be:
- Simple: It should be simple enough for people to pronounce, spell and therefore remember. Saying that, avoid using peculiar spellings or arbitrary symbols.
- Short: Because the longer it gets, the harder it is for visitors to remember. Try and keep your domain name to around 3 words or less, and make your URL as short as possible – keep thing concise and catchy. Longer domains might be difficult for your users to remember. Not to mention, your users will be more likely to make typos with longer domain names; you don’t want to lose out on that traffic.
- Branded: Your domain should incorporate your brand’s name, or at least a variation of it. This will make your website immediately recognizable and consistent with your other branding elements.
- SEO friendly: Your domain name is one of the first things Google looks for when ranking your site. Consider incorporating relevant keywords that describe your biz. Examples include your type of business (JohnDoePhotographer.com) or your location (JohnDoeColorado.com) if you’re looking into acquiring customers through local SEO.
- Pick the right extension: When we refer to an extension, we are referring to the “.com,” “.org,” and “.net” part of a site’s URL. We all know .com is the most popular, but there are many reasons to choose another domain extension. Do you have a name in mind, but .com has already been taken? No worries! You could use .me for your resume, and photography for all your shutterbugs among us. If you want to go hyper-local, domain extensions such as .melbourne or .sydney can help you show your city some love.
- Don’t try to show style in your domain. If you’re a real estate agent, for instance, you shouldn’t use a domain UrHome4Ever. com but rather, YourHomeForever. com. Hyphens can be used in domain names but the best practice it to write the name like it sounds – using actual words.
- Choose the right domain first time: It is essential that you choose the correct name the first time. You don’t want your customers to have to try and figure out where you’ve moved to if you suddenly decide to change course and pick a different name. It is well worth your time to really think about what sets you apart from the pack and highlight this in your domain name choice.
- Avoid legal trouble- Research your name thoroughly before making a purchase to avoid customer confusion or, worst case scenario, legal issues. Before you finalize your decision, make sure you are not choosing a domain name that infringes on the competition by searching the trademark databases.
Make your move
You’ve narrowed down your list of potential domain names, now you just need to check if they’re available. Domain register is a good place to search and register available domain names in for your immediate or future use.