As we know, there are many items to consider when choosing a domain name: branding, keyword usage, ease of memory, etc. But what should you do for your business? Here are a few suggestions from my observations with clients and personal experience….
1. Branding vs. Keyword Usage
Obviously you want to make your domain unique and memorable. And if you have a catchy or unique company name, one of the most evident choices is to use your company name as the domain for branding. But what if you have a super-long company name? (Think law firms like Bentsen, Curtis, Hernandez & Stankowitz.) Do you really want to choose a lengthy domain?
Sure, you can do the acronym thing and choose bchs.com (using the example above), but that might not go too far in the way of branding anyway—which was most likely the reason why you were wanting to use a domain based off of your company name.
If you’re a small- to medium-sized business, and if you’re targeting local customers, then I would see how a domain based off a relevant keyword could be beneficial—as long as it’s not ridiculously long, it is relevant, and is easy to type and remember.
For example, if law firm of Bentsen, Curtis, Hernandez & Stankowitz specializes in bankruptcy in Houston, Texas, then domain options could include:
bankruptcylawhouston.com (currently unavailable)
If I was an owner of a local or regional business, I would probably want to focus on a domain that doubles as a targetable, relevant keyword phrase and as an honest, appropriate description of my service/product (and corresponding location). At the same time, I can see how branding can be valuable for a domain as well (think Jay-Z’s 40-40 Club lounge and sports bar).
2. Buy Other Available Domain Endings Too
As a general rule, it’s best to purchase the .com domain as that is the most widely recognized domain ending (i.e., if people don’t know the ending, usually the .com is the first attempt in the browser). However, in order to help thwart competitors from buying the same domain with a different ending (i.e., if you have awesomeness.com and they buy awesomeness.net), I would suggest buying the other domain endings as well—and then redirect them to the .com.
So if you can afford the extra $10 or so for each extra domain, I would recommend that—especially if you plan on having the .net or .org as the actual, live domain.
3. Avoid Gimmicks
Some individuals, when they don’t get the domain they want, get a similar domain by adding numbers, hyphens, or words like “the,” “my,” “new,” or “free” at the beginning. (Ironically, some web hosting providers actually suggest these domains when the one you want is taken…but it’s most likely so they can still sell you a domain.)
I would stay away from these types of domains as it adds extra, unnecessary characters to your domain (making it harder to remember, type, or market with), doesn’t add value for branding, and doesn’t give an authoritative feel or trustworthy aura to the majority of users. It is best to keep trying to come up with something original and have a clean domain.
There are many reasons to choose or not choose a certain domain. The selection usually depends on your industry, branding ideas, and business goals. Just remember that your domain is (generally) a one-time purchase, so take the time to research and weigh the pros and cons of your options.
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