Ready to choose your domain name?

Choosing a domain name is similar to choosing a company name. You have to give it some serious thought and consideration. Your domain name is your identity on the web; you want to make sure you choose a domain name that not only fits your business, but is also easy to find and promote.

I recommend you get your personal name if it is still available even if you don’t plan to use it right now. This is something you can use in the future to promote your personal services, portfolio or have it forward to your LinkedIn profile.

For my personal site I have both hwayda.com and hwaydakater.com.

For business, you want your domain to be similar to your business name or you might confuse your potential buyers.

Below are tips to help you pick the perfect domain name.

1. Make it Easy to Type

Finding a domain name that’s easy to type is critical to online success. If you use slang (u instead of you) or words with multiple spellings (express vs. xpress), it might be harder for customers to find your site. I used  the words BIZ on my domain but I also own www.onlinebusinessexpress.com which also forwards to my site. I wanted to keep the domain short… which brings us to point #2.

2. Keep it Short

If your domain name is too long and complex, you risk customers mistyping or misspelling it. Short and simple is the way to go. I used a shorter name on this blog as it works better for online and print advertising and I own the longer version which also forwards to the same site.

3. Use Keywords

Try using keywords that describe your business and the services you offer. For example, if you’re an accountant, you may want to use the words accounting or taxes in your domain.

Include the keywords that people enter when searching for your products or services.

It helps improve your rank on search engines (which increases traffic) and just makes more sense to your customers.

4. Target Your Area

If you have a local business, consider including your city or state in your domain name to make it easy for local customers to find and remember. Example: VancouverTaxServices.com

5. Avoid Special Characters

Numbers and special characters like hyphens are often misunderstood — people who hear your website address don’t know if you’re using a numeral (6) or it’s spelled out (six) or they misplace or forget the dash.

If you need these in your domain to target keywords, register a different variation to be safe.

6. Be Memorable

There are millions of registered domain names, so having a domain that’s catchy and memorable is essential. I usually register as many as I can to lock them in and then do a poll and ask my network which one is more intuitive and easy to remember.

7. Do Your Research

Do you research and avoid using names that are trademarked, copyrighted or being used by another company. If a name is  trademarked, you might face legal issues down the line.

Not all domains that are purchased are in use. If you find a domain you like and it is registered already, visit the site to see if it is active. In many cases you might find that the domain is for sale or you might be able to reach out to the owner and ask them to buy it.

To assess the value of the domain, you can use services like GoDaddy Domain Appraisals. The price will depend on how desperately you need it and if others are interested in the same name.

8. Use an Appropriate Domain Name Extension

Extensions are suffixes, such as .com or .net, at the end of web addresses. These can have specific uses, so make sure to choose one that works for your business.

The .com domain extension is the most popular, but it can be tough to get a short and memorable .com domain name because it’s been around for so long.

There are many new extensions you can choose from now. Pick something that is intuitive for for the products and services you are offering.

You’ll find over 600 extensions to choose from like .biz, .info, .org, .guru, .site, .blog etc..

You can always register a few options and have them forward to your main site. Once you get a feel of which one works better, you can make that name the default.

9. Protect and Build your Brand

To protect your brand, you should purchase various domain extensions, as well as misspelled versions of your domain name. This prevents competitors from registering other versions and ensures your customers are directed to your website, even if they mistype it.

For example I own both hwayda.com and hwaydakater.com.

10. Act Fast

Domain names can go fast, especially if someone knows you are thinking about it. They might buy it and they try to sell it to you for more. There are many people that make it their business to buy domain names and then try to flip them to buyers at a higher price.

If you’re having trouble finding an available name, domain registrars will suggest alternate names during your domain search to help you find the perfect domain name.

View my recommended vendors on the resources page.