How to choose a domain name that customers remember
Choosing a domain name is a big deal, as so many names are already in use. We'll help you choose a domain name that's original, memorable, and effective.
23 March 2020 · 8 min read
11 Tips for how to choose a domain name
1. .com, .org, or .net?
At the end of your domain name is its extension, also known as a top-level domain (TLD) or generic top-level domain (gTLD). This is an essential component of every domain and one that you have a bit of control over.
Some TLDs are restricted to certain uses; for example, .gov can only be used by approved government agencies, while .edu can only be used by educational institutions. Others, like .com, .org, and .net, are available for anyone to use.
Although you’ll see .com used on nearly every website on the internet, there are hundreds of TLDs. We do recommend sticking with .com if you can since its popularity makes it the easiest for your customers to remember.
2. Bigger isn’t better
When you’re frustrated because all of your desired domain names are taken, you may decide to pick one that’s too unique, long, and doesn’t relate to your business name. Domain names like this are hard to remember and can easily backfire with potential customers.
You’ll want to choose a domain name that’s as short as possible while still clear in its message. Shorter domain names are easier to write down, type, remember, and share on social media.
3. Choose a domain that’s easy to spell
Speaking of overly complicated domain names, you’re going to want to keep the spelling of your domain name simple. If your domain is difficult to spell, people may have a hard time finding it based on memory alone. Not only will this make it harder when promoting your website, but an obscure domain is going to be difficult to remember as well.
The best domain names are ones that use unique words that are spelled exactly how they sound. “google.com” is a great example. No one else’s domain sounds like Google’s, and yet you never have any trouble spelling it because it’s such a simple word.
It’s recommended that you avoid acronyms unless they’re a core part of your brand. “CNN” is easy enough to remember, while SCVHN is probably going to end up buried under everything else your customers are trying to remember.
4. Avoid hyphens, underscores, and numbers
Have you ever had to remember an email or username that uses hyphens, underscores, or numbers? If yes, you can probably see why it’s a bad idea to use these in a web address, even if they’re more readily available.
Similar to the spelling and length of your domain, these sorts of things overcomplicate your domain name and make it much harder to remember and share. For example, if you’re telling your friend they should check out YouTube.com, you can easily say it in conversation and they can easily remember it. Telling your friend they should visit You-Tube.com, however, isn’t as catchy. The same thing usually applies to numbers. Your domain’s memorability and shareability will suffer from including numbers in it.
5. Use SEO
If possible, you should look for ways to incorporate SEO strategies into your domain. SEO (search engine optimization) is a set of practices designed to increase your website’s search engine ranking and drive traffic.
You can use SEO in a domain by including keywords in the name. For example, if you own a tire repair shop, you can pick a domain name like “tirerepair.com” or “tirereplacement.com”, which will make your website easy to find and remember. Keywords also have the benefit of being intuitive. Domains based on keywords usually describe your business well enough that someone can understand what you do before ever clicking on your website. This helps build trust with customers right away.
6. Use your name
For individuals who are their business (freelancers and artists) using your name is the ideal route to go when choosing your domain name. Even if your name isn’t directly affiliated with your business, it’s still a good idea to register your name as a domain name for the future. There are a few reasons for this.
One, when you’re an artist or freelancer, your name is a key part of your brand. You are your product. Second, it helps make your name and website easier to remember through synergy. If people use your name when they talk to you and when they visit your website, that’s twice the familiarity.
There are a few reasons not to use your name as a domain name, however. For example, if your name contradicts the previous tips (it’s hard to spell, remember, or is extremely long), you might be better off picking a simpler domain.
7. Check its availability on social media
An important factor to consider when choosing a domain name is its social media availability. Social media is an essential component of most companies’ advertising campaigns, and it will more than likely be an important aspect of yours, too.
The rules that we’ve mentioned so far that make your domain name easy to remember apply to social media usernames as well. You want something simple, short, and memorable.
If you’re lucky, the domain name you want will already be available on social media. Having a shared name between your domain and social media will increase the memorability of your brand and make it easier for people to find your website and social media accounts.
8. Pick something inclusive
Sometimes, companies have a brand name that only vaguely associates with what services and products they offer. Apple, for example, doesn’t make anything fruit-related. Therefore, inclusivity isn’t as important to their brand as recognition is.
But for companies that have names that directly reflect what they offer, inclusivity is going to matter a lot, especially when choosing your domain name.
Let’s say your business starts out selling forks. You spend a few days coming up with a clever domain and settle on “whatthefork.com”. Then, after a few months of successful business, you decide to start selling spoons, too. Then a few months after that, you start selling napkins, plates, dining tables, and so on.
Your business has now branched out far beyond its initial name, making it less relevant and effective than it originally was. To avoid running into this issue, try sticking with inclusive domain names that give your business room to grow in the future.
9. Remember that your domain is long term
This tip is fairly obvious, though it’s one you may feel like ignoring the longer your search for a domain name goes on. Your domain name is one of those things that’s probably never going to change. Changing a domain name can negatively affect your site’s SEO, break links to your website, and prevent loyal customers from being able to find you. So make sure that the name you choose is one that you’re prepared to stick with for the long haul.
While gangamstyle.com may have been a hilarious domain name in 2012, by 2013, and certainly by 2020, the relevancy of that domain name has long eroded. So stick to something that doesn’t indulge in current trends to improve your domain’s lifespan.
10. Use your local area
For local businesses, one of the easiest ways to make a custom domain name is to use your local area to your advantage. Adding your town to your domain name will reduce the chances of someone already owning that domain and will also add a personal feel.
Local visitors looking for your business online will immediately get confirmation that your business is nearby when they see the town name in your domain.
You shouldn’t use a regional name in your domain if it’s too broad or if it has nothing to do with your business. For example, if you sell plain white socks over the internet, adding “Texas” to your domain probably isn’t a great idea, even if “Texasplainwhitesocks.com” is available.
11. Purchase your domain name fast
There are over 350 million domain names currently in use around the world. To put that into perspective, that’s enough for everyone in the United States to have a domain name with more than 20 million leftovers. In other words, you’re going to have to come up with a domain name that 350 million other people haven’t thought of yet.
So, if you find that perfect domain name that encapsulates your business, is easy to spell and remember, is short and punchy, and most importantly, is available, then act on it fast! Most domain names can be purchased for around $10 a year, which amounts to just $0.03/day. That’s a pretty small price to pay to secure your place in internet history.
Though not as critical to your business, social media handles are in even higher demand, and they’re free! So the same applies here: if you find that your social media username is still available, snag it.
Ready to put a website behind your domain name?
If you’re narrowing down options for your domain name, then it’s time to start planning out the website it’s going to represent. Here at B12, we offer one of the most effective ways to build a site. It’s an all-in-one solution that combines web design expertise with the ease and efficiency of AI technology.
For more information on building the perfect website, check out the rest of the B12 Resource Center.