Are you preparing a new website and new to the Internet? If yes, these tips will be very useful for you. Soon, you'll know how to choose the best domain name for your website or blog and make it last forever.
Everyone agrees that choosing the best domain name for a business can be a difficult decision. You have to consider several different factors, such as the current name and the feel of your company.
You also need to make sure that you can support and grow your business with the new name and the possibility of buying another domain name in the future.
With so many available domains and generic top-level domains (TLDs) to choose from, choosing the right one to make it stick with your business forever can be a tough task, but not impossible.
Choosing a domain name is almost as complicated as choosing a child's first name. The act of registration is quick, but the choice is final and will remain for many years...
But, don't be afraid because we at InfoMasta have gathered 12 tips and ways for choosing the best domain name for your new website or blog.
What Is a Domain Name?
Definition of the domain name
A domain name defines the address of your site on the web, on which you can communicate.
We can draw a parallel with a restaurant in the physical world:
- The room of your restaurant corresponds to the server of your website. It is 'it' who will house your tables, chairs, etc., in the physical world and your pages, videos, photos in the digital world.
- Your restaurant's address in the physical world corresponds to the domain name, your site's address in the digital world.
"Do you know the great Pizza restaurant located at New York City?"
The same will be said for your site:
"Do you know the great Pizza restaurant that you can order online?"
The answer will be: www.nycpizzarestaurant.com
Therefore, its choice is strategic because most of your prospects and customers will talk about your company by exchanging your domain name. It will be the same for journalists and influencers who will talk about you.
"Read the super interesting article on www.pizzarestaurantreviews.com!"
Beyond the technique and all the optimizations, you have to be proud of your domain name!
In fact, beyond the domain name, there is the name of the site. If you have registered a trademark, it makes good sense to use it in your domain name. And in this case, it is the brand that we remember, even more than the domain name. For example, we know "SuperMom" and not necessarily "supermom.com." Or "Fit with Sarah" and not "fitwithsarah.com" 😉
If people know your site by name, that's even better! It's like knowing the "XYZ" pizza (knowing that it is a New York pizza shop) rather than knowing only its address.
Anatomy of a domain name
Technically a domain name is an essential component of the URL. "URL" stands for "Uniform Resource Locator," which literally means "uniform resource locator." As explained above: this is the address where we will find all your resources: pages, videos, images, etc...
Let's dissect the fictitious domain name: www.fitwithsarah.com
"www" corresponds to what is called the subdomain. By default, we will take the "www" for the main part of the site. Or even nothing at all! The "www" is not mandatory.
You can also choose to set up a blog on your site. In this case, a more common practice is to position it in a subdomain, for example, blog.fitwithsarah.com.
"Blog" will therefore become a subdomain of your website.
Note: it is absolutely not necessary to subdomain your blog. You can have large sites without any subdomain, each section then being in "a directory at the root." To use the previous example, that would give www.fitwithsarah.com/blog/ or else fitwithsarah.com/blog/ if you choose not to use the "www" subdomain.
In our example, this corresponds to "fitwithsarah."
Extension of the domain name
This corresponds to the following domain name: ".com" in our example.
It is important to know that what is commonly called a domain name necessarily consists of the domain and its extension. When you buy a domain name, you pay for each extension. On the other hand, the subdomains are free (on the condition of being the owner of the domain name concerned).
What about HTTPS?
Your site can be accessible in HTTP or HTTPS, and it depends on whether you have opted for an "SSL certificate," which allows the famous green padlock to be displayed in a browser.
If your project concerns a new site, it is better to opt for HTTPS. Follow these tips to learn the SEO impact before you migrate to HTTPS.
What about the rest of the URL?
As this article is dedicated to domain names, we will not detail the rest (and their impact on SEO).
Now that things are clear, here are the best tips to help you make an informed choice and find the perfect domain name.
12 Tips for Choosing Your Domain Name
1. Compound name and hyphens
Keeping it simple is often the most effective 😉
When you talk about your business, you will use its business name. The best practice is, therefore, to purchase the domain name corresponding to your business name.
What if your business has a compound name? Let's take a few examples like these French banks that have had to think long and hard about their domain name:
- Banque Populaire: www.banquepopulaire.fr
- Crédit Agricole: www.credit-agricole.com
- Société Générale: www.societegenerale.com/fr
- Crédit Coopératif: www.credit-cooperatif.coop
What is the conclusion? The answer is none! At one time, web marketers preferred to separate each word with hyphens undercover that it was easier for Internet users to type. The trend has reversed, and Internet users have become accustomed to entering domain names without dashes.
Our advice: prefer domain names without dashes.
It's better to choose a domain name without dashes; it's better overall (SEO, marketing, etc.)
Please note, also take these important notes into account:
Whatever your choice (with or without dashes), you have to buy the different variants. This will prevent a smart guy from buying them and causing you problems (even if legally there are sometimes possibilities to get them back). Set up a 301 redirect of the variants to the official domain name.
If your company name is made up of several words and the last letter of a word is identical to the first letter of the next word (example, "NYC Street Pizza"), add dashes. This will facilitate the entry, but also the reading: "nyc-street-pizza.com" is easier to understand than "nycstreetpizza.com."
If possible, limit yourself to 2 words or choose any way to "paste" everything without dashes (like nycpizza.com).
Which dash to use? There is no risk of making a mistake since only the classic hyphen (key on your keyboard) is authorized. However, you will not be able to buy a domain name with an underscore (_).
Note: in the rest of the URL, the underscore is possible, but the "-" is recommended.
The right examples:
2. Extension of the domain name
Here too, the choice may be guided by common sense. A good practice is to choose the extension that matches the country you are targeting in terms of the market. Indeed, the extension was initially created to define the country of origin of your site.
For example, if your company sells only in the United Kingdom, you will choose a . UK, while if you sell only in Portugal, you will choose a .pt.
If you want your website to reach globally (more than one country (and communicate in several languages), you have the choice between 2 strategies:
- either put everything on a single domain name: in this case, it is better to use .com. This is what Apple did, for example.
- Or use a domain name with the extension of each target country. This is what Amazon or Google have done, for example.
In fact, it is recommended to buy the different extensions in all cases, even if you actually only use one. Always prevent a third party from buying them and causing you problems.
Note: the "local" aspect has become very important on the web: most Internet users do local searches. Certainly, since the mobile has overtaken the computer! Therefore, new extensions have appeared, and they could interest you if your activity is closely linked to a region. For example (for France business), you could take a domain name with the extension .paris for the capital, or .alsace to name just one region. Unfortunately, these special extensions are often much more expensive than the standard (.com or .fr) and do not provide any direct SEO benefit.
3. Domain name registration period
We talk about registration duration because a domain name is never purchased for life. Instead, we rent a domain name for a fixed period. Therefore, the registration term for a domain name is from 1 year (minimum) to 10 years (maximum).
How long should you reserve your domain name? Again, we must let common sense act. As well as your budget!
If this domain name is for an event site doomed to disappear within 12 months, then buy it for 12 months only. Note that if it has been very successful, you better avoid giving it up because it is valuable. We speak of "juice" for the notoriety that it can transmit to other sites if the site links them.
By the way: what is the impact of the recording time on SEO? None, it seems. In any case, this is what John Mueller (at Google) has often indicated, even if the patent US7346839B2 seems to indicate that it could count...
But if you are launching a site for a serious project, it will be there for several years. So reserve your domain name for several years, you may be able to take advantage of a discount.
4. The length of the domain name
The shorter, the better!
Indeed, the shorter the domain name, the more likely it is to be easily remembered. This is so true that we no longer consider any domain name available below 5 characters on the .com extension.
OK, but then how many characters for the domain name?
- Technically, a domain name (including the subdomain) can be up to 255 characters.
- It is strongly recommended never to exceed 30 characters
- It is preferable to have a domain name of fewer than 15 characters
5. Pronunciation and word games
Your domain name should be easy to pronounce in all the markets (and languages) you target.
Find out about any puns associated with your name, including in other languages or countries. Then, you should not find yourself facing a bad buzz!
Pay attention to silent letters.
At the same time, avoid numbers, as people will hesitate to write them in numbers or in full.
6. Ownership of the domain name
You must own your domain name. Indeed, it is on "it" that you will invest your energy. Moreover, the quality content that you place on your site will give it authority with Google. Ditto for the links that point you to the site, taken as recommendations by the Google algorithm.
This authority will be directly linked to your domain name.
Some platforms offer a site without a domain name, but this is not a good idea. The few dollars you will save per year will be nothing compared to the downside of not investing in a domain name.
7. From whom to buy your domain name?
To buy a domain name, you have to go to a registrar, that is to say, an accredited seller. This is called domain name registration.
How to choose a good registrar? Study what sets them apart, for example:
- the sale price
- technical features related to configuration
- domain name protection possibilities (e.g., DNSSEC, Anycast DNS, Anonymous WHOIS, anti-theft, anti-typosquatting, anti-cyber squatting)
- easy to transfer from another registrar
- easy to renew (automatic renewal option)
- the language of the interface, the quality of the control panel
- the choice (number of extensions offered for sale)
- the quality of customer support by email, phone, or chat
- the seniority of the company
- the number of domain names managed or already sold
Go through reputable companies such as GoDaddy (one of the main registrars worldwide) or Namecheap (the cheaper ones), or Bluehost (get a free premium domain name when you buy their cheap but great hosting).
8. Availability of the domain name
When purchasing your domain name, registrars will query their database to ensure that the domain (including its extension) is available.
If, unfortunately, the domain name linked to your business name is not available on the desired extension, try the alternatives. It is possible, for example, to take the extension .net or others. Let us say that the .org extension is often used in the field of the official organization website.
What does SEO impact from this? The domain extension has no SEO impact directly, except for extensions associated with countries (for example .fr). However, indirectly, it can add a keyword, especially with new extensions like .boutique.
How to find a domain name that respects all these tips?
If you lack any ideas of the domain name you want to buy, try a free tool like Instant Domain Search or turn to companies specializing in brand and domain name research (be careful, the budget is often several thousand dollars).
Or maybe your choice of site/company name is wrong! So make the proper adjustment from the roots of your business branding process.
9. Brand and domain name
The fact that a domain name is available does not necessarily mean that it respects trademark rights and, therefore, that you can acquire it. Very concretely, if you have created a smartphone and you sell it under the domain name www.apple-magic.net, you will certainly quickly receive a letter from the Apple law firm asking you to return this domain name to them.
So remember to make sure of the availability of those big brands in your industry. If your activity only concerns the United States, start by searching on the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office) websites. Otherwise, see its equivalents for other countries/regions (EUIPO for Europe, WIPO worldwide with its ROMARIN database for research in international trademarks registered in the Madrid system).
In our example, this fictitious "Apple Magic" brand must certainly be available. The USPTO database will therefore answer you positively. But, you will agree, it is all the same an indirect attack on the mark, even an organized deception. Especially if you sell smartphones...
Your common sense will be the judge - or the advice of your lawyer specializing in intellectual property and trademark law.
10. Domain name and SEO
The question has long been asked:
Does the domain name influence the referencing and therefore the visibility of my website?
If this may have been the case at one time in Google's algorithm, it is no longer relevant. The topic was officially closed by Matt Cutts, responsible for the Google algorithm for many years.
On the other hand, Matt Cutts explains in the video (above) that naturally, the presence of a keyword can have a marketing impact on the Internet user.
Here again, common sense...
If a user, for example, Sarah searches for a "sweet pie recipe" and during her search, Google offers her the following domains:
The Internet user will naturally tend to click on the domain "pierecipes.com," which a priori answers the most to her searches. Unless she knows MomRecipes brand and their popularity is so huge that she will choose this site...
In addition, in the results pages, Google puts in bold the keywords searched by the Internet user. This will visually emphasize the domain name incorporating these keywords.
Finally, be aware that with a domain name composed only of keywords, you must pay special attention to Google algorithms, in particular those responding to the names of "EMD" (Exact Match Domain) and Google "Penguin" algorithm.
Note: Be careful if you change your domain name, your reference, and the business you are continuing could drop. So, follow these tips to make sure everything goes smoothly in this case.
11. Buy an expired domain name
If you do not buy a brand new domain name invented for your brand, you can go for an expired domain name. In other words, a second-hand domain name 🙂 This is a domain name that has not been renewed and which is once again available for purchase.
If this may be a good plan in some cases, it is better to analyze what it has been used for in the past. Did a site use this name? If so, take a good look at what it was:
- what was the theme of the site? It should correspond to that of your future site. Look on the WayBack Machine tool from archive.org
- was the site in a sensitive sector (sex, alcohol, etc.)? Was it selling any illegal goods in the past?
- What are its backlinks? Is the profile of the links pointing to the site "clean" or "artificial" (as defined by Google)?
If you don't know how to do this analysis, avoid buying the used or expired domain name, it may play bad tricks on you… Or ask a professional to carry out these verifications if you still want the domain name.
12. Watch out for accents and special characters
Did you know? It is possible to have accents in a domain name (at least on many extensions). So if the name of your site can be written with accents, it is imperative to buy the accented variants (and redirect them in 301 to the official domain name).
For example, for a while, ikéa.com was owned by a third party unrelated to Ikéa, which apparently forgot to purchase this accented domain name. The result, even if it is an obvious example of cybersquatting, it lasted for years... The Internet users who directly typed ikéa.com in their browser found themselves in a domain name parking lot, that is to say only ads…
This goes not only on accents but also non-Latin characters like Cyrillic, Arabic, Chinese, etc. We call them IDNs.
In conclusion, with all these important tips that we have given to you, we hope you will follow all of them. This is the only way to make sure that you can finally find the domain name of your dreams and make it stay with your business for as long as possible!