If you have ever tried to choose a domain name you know just how difficult it can be. But picking a good domain name for your website can greatly affect its success. Plus, do you want to be embarrassed later when you tell people your website’s domain name? I take your silence as a no. So here are 9 tips to make sure your domain name rocks the internet.

Follow These 9 Tips For Success

1. Keep it short
The longer your domain name is the more likely it will be mistyped, remembered incorrectly, and simply a mouthful to say. For example, imagine that GMC’s website was generalmotorscompany.com. That is substantially harder to type and remember than gmc.com isn’t it?

2. Make it your company name or the website’s focus
This sounds obvious but many do not do this. If you have established a brand or company, people will type that in. However, if you are not a company but simply a website, choosing a name that describes your focus will greatly help. Take parenting.org for example. With just the name alone you can be positive it is not about 100 ways to turn pop tarts into a gourmet entree. Which is really a thing – seriously.

3. Get a .COM
Granted, there are a number of popular websites that have a .net or .org domain name. However, many of the less tech savvy visitors are only aware of the .com domain. If you are a non-profit and want to use the .org, consider buying the .com and forwarding it to your primary .org domain. The only good exception to buying a .com would be if you are a local business outside of the USA. In that case, a country domain such as .co.uk (United Kingdom) may be beneficial as you would only want local online customers.

4. Make it unique
Unique names get attention and distinguishes you from any competitors. A well known example of this is amazon.com. Although it may seem clever, you never want to choose a domain name similar to a more popular website in the hopes of stealing their visitors. It will not lead to long-term success and looks shady. A word of caution, though: A very unique name requires more efforts to brand and market your website at first. So striving for a balance between unique and descriptive is often best. For example, bigapehosting.com is unique but it’s purpose is still recognizable compared to if they used just bigape.com.

5. Consider a keyword rich domain if a small company
If you do not have an established company name and have no goal of creating a brand, then a keyword rich domain name may help with your search engine ranking. That’s what the company CafePress did with the website customtshirts.com. However, this will hinder brand recognition down the road for large growth. Imagine if ebay started off with onlineauctions.com as their name. They never would be as popular as they are now.

UPDATE 1/1/2016: Google has recently said that low quality, keyword rich domain names will not rank as high in the search results as they previously did. So the domain name itself is now less important that it used to be.

6. Do not use hyphens or numbers
Years ago hyphens were more common and were considered to make a domain name easier to read by separating the words. So toys-for-cheap.com would be better than toysforcheap.com. However, hyphens create more issues than they solve. A visitor may not remember that your website has hyphens, or forgot where the hyphens are. In addition, nobody wants to tell their friend, “Hey I got an awesome deal at toys hyphen for hyphen cheap.com”.

The same goes for numbers. If you choose a domain name like fiveguys.com a visitor may remember it as 5guys.com. The first is a burger restaurant chain and the second is, uh, definitely NOT a restaurant. If you must buy a domain with a number, only do so if you can purchase it both spelled out and numerical. Otherwise your prospective customers may find themselves forgetting about that hamburger.

7. Choose something easy to remember
Making your domain name easy to remember involves several of the tips mentioned above. In addition, avoid a name that is hard to spell or is an odd, rarely used word. One example is jcpenney.com. No matter how many times I go there, I always type jcpenny.com instead. And the latter goes nowhere. Because of this, there was one day I thought the website must have been down. According to Google, some 40,000 other people do the same thing each month.

UPDATE: jcpenny.com has now been purchased and forwarded by the company to the correct domain name. They have now saved 40,000 people confusion each month!

8. Ensure there’s no copyright infringement
What a shame it would be to spend all of your time building an online presence just to have legal issues. So never break copyright laws when you choose your domain name.

9. Buy variations
This has already been touched on, but consider buying any variations of your domain name. This would include misspellings, different domains (.CO, .NET), and slight alterations to prevent any customer confusion.

So there you go – 9 tips to help you choose a domain name. What tips would you add to this list?

About Steven Higgins

Steven Higgins is the owner and lead designer of Inception Web Designs. Steven and his wife have spent considerable time doing volunteer and mission work both in USA and recently Uganda. Inception Web Designs has supported them in their efforts.