It’s a bad start to shell out money to buy what you think is a great domain name for your business only to find out you’ve made a costly mistake later, costly in both time AND money.
The number one rule of domain name DON’Ts is this:
Don’t Be Hard to Remember
Every other rule about effective domain names is some variation of this.
An effective domain name will not confuse people trying to type it into their search engine. It will be easy to spell, easy to remember, and easy for people who love your product or service to communicate with others. I chose seoexpertbrad.com; it is simple, catchy, brandable, and easy to remember.
Fixing a bad domain can cost three times as much as the initial purchase and weeks of valuable time. By avoiding these five DON’Ts (and corresponding DOs) of buying a domain name, you will already be ahead of the game and reaping in all the benefits of smart internet exposure.
DON’T Have an Excessively Long Domain Name
For some domain addresses, like http://www.thelongestdomainnameintheworldandthensomeaore.com/, having a very long domain name is a Guinness Book of World Records goal. But for the rest of us, aim to keep it short and sweet.
Technically, your domain name can be any combination of letters, numbers, and a few symbols (such as dashes and hyphens; more on that later) up to 67 characters, but why would you want to do that? There are few advantages to having an annoyingly long name and much more opportunity for someone to misspell and mistype when they’re trying to find you.
Try to be as easy to find as possible.
20 characters or less seems to be the magic number. 20 characters are usually long enough to be unique and informative about your website, yet short enough to limit typing confusion.
DO limit your domain name to 20 characters or less.
Don’t Be Trendy
At the beginning of the decade, omitting vowels from branding names became what some business owners thought was a clever way to get around a system where it seemed all their first choice domain names were taken. It was possibly clever and trendy, but it was also very confusing and hard to spell.
Twitter used to be Twttr.com Flicker used to be Flickr.com
Two of these companies did well enough, but at some point, they decided to limit confusion and default their domains and their business names to the standard spelling and life was made much easier for everyone.
Ustav Agarwal, the founder of the music sharing app, nwplying, weighed in on the trend:
“From my experience with nwplyng, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
Users misspell it way too often, even the ones using it regularly – and that means you lose out on network effect and app downloads.”
Trends change constantly, and you want your business to have staying power to last for decades and still sound sharp and relevant.
Creative misspellings only confuse potential customers and make you hard to find and hard to communicate. You want the exact opposite: A name that’s easy to find and easy for clients to share without an explanation on exactly how to spell that name.
Do opt for clear, concise, and commonly spelled domain name.
Your future self will thank you.
- DON’T Sound like another business
If you own a burger stand and you think that MacDonalds.com might be a clever domain for your website, think again. Not only is it a cheap trick, but it’s also illegal.
According to The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), it is against the law to register a domain name purposely similar to another business’ trademark.
Doing so can in result in high fines and potential lawsuits against you.
If you are unsure if your potential domain name infringes on another trademark you can check out the United States Patent and Trademark Office for reference.
Furthermore, customers who wander to your site by mistake while trying to find the other one will end up being frustrated for the confusion once they see through the ploy.
Don’t start a relationship with your customers or clients by annoying them.
Let your brand and service Stand for itself.
- DON’T Use Dashes, Hyphens, Abbreviations, or Numbers
There is some debate about using hyphens in your domain name, particularly with SEO and the Google ranking system, and whether or not a hyphen could make your name easier to read.
However, everyone agrees that simpler is better, and it’s best if you can avoid using hyphens in your domain.
The same is true for numbers and abbreviations.
For example, imagine your business is called Three Brothers Boards, and you want to tell someone over the phone how to reach your website.
“Is your website address ‘THREE Brothers Boards’ or ‘3 Brothers Boards?’”
“No. Our website is actually ‘Three-hyphen-bros-hyphen-boards,’ Got it?”
Remember that a good domain name is easy to find and easy to tell other people about.
Wasting time telling customers how to spell your website address is a time that could be better spent converting potential customers to paying ones.
Competing for customers is hard enough as it is. Don’t be unnecessarily confusing.
DO- drop everything in your address that isn’t your name.
If your desired spelling of your domain name has already been purchased by another entity, then find another name, or if you have the bankroll, time, and inclination, try to buy that name from the owner. But chances are, you’ll be better served by figuring out a different, even better name.
DON’T Be Anything Other Than .com (if possible)
There is a trend lately that offers website domains with fun suffixes like .xyz or .biz. Or .ly or .guru or a multitude of others options. While these may be creative and fun, they are also going to be hard for customers to remember and possibly confusing.
Or worse yet, the dot.com version of the same name will be owned by someone else, and because humans are creatures of habit, that is where most of the website traffic is going to go.
If you absolutely cannot settle on a .com address that suits you, then choose .net as a second option, or even .co. There may be a few exceptions where a .com address simply won’t work as well as a different suffix. For instance, if you have to compromise the clarity of your brand to settle for an inferior .com address, then by all means, use one of the others. But avoid them if you can.
Keep in mind, however, that .com is most preferable and what most people are going to automatically default to when searching for you. You want to make sure that when they default, they land on your website and not someone else’s.
If money is not an object, then go ahead and scoop up every suffix you can afford and have all of them send the viewer to your main homepage—preferably a .com website.
DO – try to stick to .com. If being recognizable is what you’re after—and why wouldn’t it be—stay with the tried and true .com.
Simple Is Best When Selecting a Domain Name
Buying a great domain name doesn’t have to be difficult, but it shouldn’t be done without some thought and a small amount of research either. Remember these pointers when choosing a business domain name.
The common denominator for a great domain name is to be simple, clear, easy to spell, and easy to communicate.
Question: Have you ever used a domain name that you later regretted?