Domaining for Beginners, Part 2: What Makes an Effective Domain Name?

Image via YouTube

Image via YouTube

Welcome to Domaining for Beginners, where we’ll focus on the basics of domains and look at everything from how to choose a good domain name to how new top-level domains are affecting the industry. 

45% of NamesCon attendees in 2016 and 2017 were first-timers, so we’ve created this “Domains 101” content series to help newcomers make sense of our exciting industry. 

Part 2 of Domaining for Beginners will look at what makes an effective domain name.

For Part 1 of Domaining for Beginners, we looked at what a domain name actually is (no, it's not the same thing as a URL). Now that you have a better understanding of how a domain name works, we'll be exploring what makes a good domain name, and how the quality of that domain name can positively (or negatively) affect your business or brand.

So, why is a good domain name so important anyway?

The most biggest reason is that it's the first thing that users will see, representing your entire brand or company with just a few letters. A good domain name can instill trust and leave a positive impression, while also build brand recognition. Another important factor to keep in mind is that your domain name will also affect your SEO, either helping or hindering you with your SEO ranking. 

Here's how to create an effective domain name.

Keep it short and sweet

Take a second to think about some of the most popular brands in the world. Nike, Facebook, McDonald's—what do they all have in common? All of these names are short. Nike is only four letters and it's one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

Like these brand names, your domain name should also be short and easy to remember. A domain name like the-worlds-coolest-and-fastest-running-shoes.com, however clever, isn't necessarily the most memorable. Plus, keeping your domain short will reduce the likelihood of someone misspelling it, potentially resulting in a loss of a unique view. Be concise.

Speaking of unique, make your domain name just that

People remember unique. Something catchy can go a long way with how well a user remembers your domain name. When considering your domain, try to think of something that not only speaks to your brand or business, but also something that stands out in a sea of names.

But make sure you're using actual words

Unique is great, but stringing random letters together to create a nonsense word for your domain name won't make for an effective one. Make sure you're using pronounceable words that are fairly easy to spell, so that consumers can easily type it in and share it with others.

Include key words

Bad news: the name you had in mind has already been taken. It's time to ask yourself the following questions: What's your brand or business about? What would users search if they were looking for you or your service? The answers to these questions might help you find another and equally effective domain name. 

For example, if your business is in selling cupcakes, then perhaps something like DeliciousCupcakes.com or BestCupcakes.com could work. Targeting your area might also give you a more unique choice. So, if your cupcake business is in Delaware, then you could potentially use something like DelawaresBestCupcakes.com. 

Use an appropriate domain name extension—and don't forget about .com

Choose your extension, which is the suffix at the end of your web address (also known as a top-level domain) carefully. Now that there are so many TLDs available, from .baby to .dog, you can further customize your domain to better fit your brand.

With that said, .com is still the most popular extension; it's the easiest to remember and because of how long it's been around, it's the most trusted extension by users as well. Due this same reason, however, it may be hard to secure the .com TLD. If you can't go with .com, go with something that's brand appropriate.

Think ahead and check availability on social media platforms

Having your brand name consistently displayed—through your domain name and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram—can help further build brand recognition and familiarity amongst your users. Do a quick search to see if your matching social media handles are available before committing to a name.

As well, be sure to look into whether or not there are any trademarks already registered to the domain you have in mind. Getting into a legal issue can easily be avoided if you make sure your choice hasn't already been claimed.

Now that you know what makes an effective domain name, stay tuned for the next installment of Domaining for Beginners, which will look at the best SEO practices for choosing a domain name.