It used to be a infinitely easier picking domain names back in the stone ages of the Internet. You pretty much had the choice of .com, .net, or .org. Long gone are those days of easy pickings. Not only do you have to try for a domain that is not being used but now you have hundreds of choices between “normal” and vanity extensions.
By now, I am sure you understand the importance of having an online presence for your business. We are in a world where a company, even a local one, would be hard-pressed to survive without a website and/or a social media presence.
Your customers are increasingly living their lives online. Now they would like not only to communicate online, but engage and connect with your business as well. One of the best ways to do this is by your business having a website. And one of the more critical decisions you make is which name to be known as online, otherwise known as a domain name.
We will take a few moments here to discuss the top reasons for choosing a proper website name.
Preferably you want to extend your already established brand online. Which includes keeping both your offline and online brands the same. What I mean here is simple, for example, if you call your store Mike’s Widget Store. Then by extension, you want your website name to be mikewidgetstore.com.
However, sometimes this name could conceivably be already taken by someone else. And in such a case, you may decide to go through some other iteration. The main reason for keeping the brand name the same is obviously because your clients already know and trust you by that name. Which makes it a lot easier to search and identify you online.
Another reason that I would like to touch on here and we will expound on it later is trust with search engines like Google. Most of the major search engines are pushing for trusted brands to take over the top spots. This means branded searches are essential, and no signal is more significant than someone searching for your brand name.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a vast subject that this article would not give it true justice. So we will narrow our efforts down to the effects of choosing the correct website name to your search engine efforts. Like we stated earlier, branding is becoming a key driver of how Google will rank your website in search engine results.
Now obviously, having your website name match your business is crucial for branding. But sometimes like in our example above, you might find that someone else has already taken your perfect name. Don’t worry, though, because not having the exact matching name is not a death sentence. Nowadays there are many website name variations out there, and it surely depends on your situation.
For now, just know that your website name has some effect on search engine optimization efforts and how you plan to rank your site. For example, if you would like to rank for specific keywords that will drive traffic to your site. Then you may want your website name to include some of those keywords. So instead of just having a title like mikeswidgetstore.com, you might opt for mikeswidgets.com.
Domain Name Variations and TLDs
There is undoubtedly a ton of website name variations for you to choose from. Usually, the extensions now depend on your needs and choices. But, needless to say, those choices are not as limited as they were in the past.
The best practice when you choose a name is to remember what you are doing it for. If it’s just an identifier of your business, then you can get away with making something quirky and personal.
However, if you intend to sell products on your website, then that’s a different animal. Because you now want to rank for keywords that bring in traffic, and the rules mentioned above will have to apply.
For example, we assume that mike above sells widgets. Now his website name being mikes.com for informational purposes is no big deal.
But if he wants to sell his widgets, then he is undoubtedly better off having mikeswidgets.com because it will signal search engines from the get-go what the site is about.
Top Level Domains (TLDs)
According to Google, a website’s extension (.com, .org, .net) does not matter much when it comes to SEO and rankings. However, numerous studies have shown that customers tend to trust certain extensions more than others. So, as a rule of thumb, you may have to aim for a .com extension whenever possible. Now, this is anecdotal at best, and it clearly depends on your client base.
A tech-savvy audience, for example, won’t necessarily care if you have a catchy name like mikewidge.ts. But this could be confusing for the traditional crowd that probably types out full website names like mikewidgets.com.
All in all, choosing the correct name is essential; however, it will depend on a myriad of factors, so do not be stuck on a name that’s unavailable or expensive simply because you feel that the second option is not good enough.