Having the right domain name can make a big difference when it comes to attracting new customers. Anne A. Ward, O’Reilly author of The SEO Battlefield and CEO of CircleClick Media, said punctuation, top level domains, and even spellings can impact the ease of getting found online. Before you run out and purchase your URL, Ward suggests to first strategize about your brand messaging and online presence.
“Your domain name is part of your brand. It should be short, memorable, easy to type, and easy to speak,” Ward said.
Do Your Research
Your new business name or product may be available as a domain name, but Ward said owners still need to do a bit of research before clicking the purchase button.
“Test out your top choices by calling up a friend or colleague and communicating the address over the phone. This is a great litmus test for the ease with which you will be able to communicate your domain name. Are you having to explain it? Then realize that the people coming to your website won't be hearing that and plan accordingly,” Ward said.
How many times have you misspelled a business or product name and ended up rerouting to some random site? Owners need to assume this is going to happen and figure out whether or not their domain name could have potential misspellings, abbreviations, or mispronunciations and purchase additional domains accordingly.
“If the name of your company starts with the, a, or an, purchase the domain name both with and without those words. For example, if your site was named TheBestThingEver, purchase both bestthingever.com also thebestthingever.com. Use bestthingever.com as the canonical address, and redirect thebestthingever.com to this address.”
Ward also said to avoid dashes, other punctuation, or special characters in your domain to reduce spelling errors.
Regardless of the spelling, more often than not, your favorite domain choices won’t be available as a “.com.” That’s why people are turning to alternative top level domain (TLD) extensions.
.COM Isn’t for Everyone
With top level domains (TLDs) the ability to personalize brands and distinguish themselves from the black hole of the .com world can make it easier for a customer to find your business. Individuals to startups are looking to .ME, .IO and other TLDs to break out from the standard.
“Explore top level domains other than .com if you are having difficulty finding something that is available,” Ward said. “There are many other new TLDs worthy of consideration. However, remember that the domain needs to be easy to remember, easy to communicate, and it needs to effectively represent your brand.”
What Is That Again?
Ward said a sign of a poor domain is one that is difficult to communicate verbally. If your domain name gets too complicated to pronounce it’ll be harder for customers to find you online.
“You want people to spread the word about your site verbally, so it should be easy to understand when spoken. This is also important in the case of radio advertisements,” Ward said.
For example, About.Me or Join.Me are used both as names of the services and domains and are easy to understand when spoken. Ward also cautions about keyword stuffing, as too many words could bring more complexity to the domain name.
“It can be helpful to include an important keyword which you would like to rank for in your domain. However, this can very quickly go into the ‘trying too hard’ category and end up looking spammy,” Ward said.
Ward offers some additional tips when purchasing a domain name.
- Domain names should be easy to type – even on a phone.
- Domain names, like your brand, should be easy to remember.
- Don't host your site with spammy or insecure hosts.
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This article was brought to you in partnership with .ME, the premium top-level domain for professionals focused on building their online reputation. Learn more at www.domain.me.