“Is a domain a commodity? An investment? A safe haven? Real estate? Yes, and much more. It is the most portable asset the world has ever known. But bigger than all that is that a great domain name is an equalizer.”
– Rick Schwartz, American domain name entrepreneur
When starting a new business, its name lies at the core of your potential success. Not merely because this is the foundation on which your brand is built and what will help to lure consumers — what makes a good business name so critical in today’s day and age is snagging a suitable domain.
Selecting a name for your business and grabbing the right domain are one in the same in the digital age. You need to be sure that the URL you land is one that will help make your brand, not break it.
Your business domain is a key element of your website because it serves several functions:
- It is your first impression – The domain is the first thing visitors will see; assuming you have picked one that they can find. More on this later.
- It defines your brand – The right domain name can help support or diminish brand recognition.
- It impacts SEO – If your domain leverages the right keywords, it can have a positive impact on your SEO for several different reasons.
If your business is in the market for a new URL, or you are in the pre-launch phases of a new brand, here are five must-have domain elements that will help your business prosper.
1. Consider Keywords
Back in 2012, Matt Cutts announced via Twitter that Google would begin dropping low-quality exact match domains (EMD) in the SERPs. This has led many to believe that EMDs are bad for business, though this simply isn’t true.
Google only demoted “low-quality” EMDs, as it did with everything that the Panda algorithm deemed subpar.
Assuming your site is top notch, you have nothing to fear in the realm of EMDs; in fact, you’ll likely see positive SEO results as a byproduct.
Let’s look at a case study. Steve Tackett just purchased www.usedcarsforsale.com for a whopping $340,000; the single largest sale of an automotive-related domain since 2008.
Steve’s intent for buying such a pricey URL is to help disrupt the online automotive industry that is currently dominated by sites like Autotrader.com, Cars.com, and others that have garnered a questionable reputation in the eyes of many consumers.
Because this site is likely to drive a significant amount of traffic based on its keyword value alone, it is sure to be a power player in the SERPs.
2. Take Spelling Seriously
Truthfully, you need to consider more than just your domain’s spelling. You also need to take into consideration the length and pronunciation as well. If one of these elements is out of balance, it is likely to equate to a serious decrease in potential traffic.
When considering a domain, try to make sure it’s something that can be easily said in conversation, is easily remembered, and is spelled like it sounds.
Adhering to these guidelines helps to ensure that your domain is memorable and easily searchable. If it’s too long, people will forget it. If it’s spelled strangely, consumers will have a hard time finding you. If shoppers can’t pronounce your URL, they’ll probably just go somewhere else.
When purchasing a domain, make sure it fits within this framework; if it doesn’t, keep looking.
3. Nix Numbers and Hyphens
Keeping in mind the last section, numbers and hyphens can be a business death sentence for clear reasons. Both domain elements make your URL more difficult to spell and pronounce in conversation; this is likely to lead to far less business than you would hope for.
There isn’t much need to go further into detail here. The lesson to take from this is to avoid URL-related numbers and hyphens like the plague.
4. Do a .Com Address
In recent years, more creative and unusual top-level domains (.me, .camp, etc.) have come into existence.
While there is certainly an argument to be made for creativity and memorability, if you are serious about building a long-term brand online, you’ll likely want to stay within the .com arena.
These URLs are far more difficult to procure as they may be more expensive and hard to come by, but .com is by far the most trusted top-level domain by consumers. In fact, many are still unaware that alternative website suffixes like .me are in use, making potential visitors weary and more likely to visit another site.
Speaking of building a long-term brand online…
5. Think About the Future
When purchasing a domain for your business, consider it as seriously as you would a marriage. This will be your brand’s defining factor online for years to come, if not the entirety of its existence.
If you opt to change your URL at some point in the future, your traffic will temporarily be halted, and your SEO ranking will be seriously damaged. So don’t commit to a URL you suspect is temporary; go all-in or there will be repercussions.
Think about where your business is now and what it might be in the future. Do you plan to maybe expand your offerings or services one day? Then take that into account.
Don’t pigeonhole yourself to a certain niche if you feel that you have the potential to grow your business into other areas.
Make sure that your business URL reflects who you are now as a brand, and who you might become.
Your businesses domain name is its identity; it’s how people find you online. Be sure to carefully consider the elements above when shopping for a URL to attach to your brand. If you fail to follow these guidelines, it could end up costing you a lot more than a few visitors.
Have you had any domain troubles in the past? Do you think .com addresses are still most trusted by consumers or are other domains gaining credence?