Your domain name is the address of your website, and it's critical to the success of your business to follow best practices when choosing a domain name. The URL that people see when they visit your site is how visitors will refer to your web pages when they talk about it with friends, and how they'll identify your website when they want to return to view more content. Needless to say, it's a crucial cornerstone of your digital marketing campaign.
If you want to make sure your domain name is perfect, remember to keep the following tips in mind when you're selecting one.
Less Is More
One of your goals should be to make the domain as short as possible. Long URLs are a real pain to type out, and if a user who's already familiar with your site performs an organic search, it's irritating trying to type out a contrived domain name.
Ideally, you want to shoot for a domain name that isn't longer than 10-15 characters. Sure, there are exceptions, but the general rule of thumb is to make it easy to type and reference.
Keywords Aren't Necessary
In the past, digital marketers sought after domain names that were either a partial match or full match of relevant keywords. This is partly due to the fact that partial match domain names were weighted more heavily in search engine algorithms. Today, however, they aren't as important – so you don't necessarily need to use keywords in your domain name.
I'd recommend trying to use a keyword in your domain name only if it makes sense and sounds organic. Plus, you'll want to do your homework and make sure the keyword is getting enough hits to be of any value. Remember, it can be a costly endeavor to try to change your domain name in the future, so only incorporate keywords into your domain if you expect the name to be of value years down the road.
Incorporate Your Locale
Often small and medium sized businesses target customers and leads in a very specific city, region, state, or location. If your bread and butter is local search, then it only makes sense to incorporate location-based text into your domain name. Not only does this technique benefit local search traffic through keywords, but it also makes your business feel like a neighborhood establishment as opposed to a mega-corporation that's building an international empire.
This is especially true in service-related industries, local family owned or mom and pop shops, and local restaurants. So, not only will it add location dependent SEO value, it will also help local leads find your business and foster trust.
Make Sure It's Spelled Correctly
Unless your brand is intentionally misspelled, make darn sure that your domain name is spelled correctly. For instance, maybe you run a local pizza restaurant intentionally named Krazy Karl's Pizza. In this instance, you would want to intentionally misspell Krazy with a ‘K.' But in other instances, misspelling your domain name could have a couple negative consequences.
The first negative consequence is that the misspelling will make your business look unprofessional, and make it look like you don't have a clue what you're doing online. Additionally, it also has the unfortunate side effect of making your business's website look like an illegitimate phishing site. Hackers and phishers try to mimic real URLs by misspelling them, and users who catch the spelling error may distrust your site.
Make the Name Intuitive
If you're even moderately successful with your online marketing campaign, chances are people are going to talk about your business. You want to make sure that they can easily and intuitively reference your site, be it via Twitter or by word of mouth. For example, someone might say somethings along the lines of, “I was reading an interesting article on xyz.com that said something about stuff.”
The goal is to make it easy to say, remember, and pronounce so that people can easily communicate the name of their site with each other. For that reason, it's generally advisable to avoid number characters in your domain name. Also, it's inadvisable to use a randomly generated URL for individual pages since they are unintelligible to your visitors.
Compare Your Target Audience to Your Domain's Language
I would also caution you to give a lot of thought to how your domain name will be received by your audience. Sometimes including edgy hidden meanings, words only suitable for adults, and innuendos could cause new visitors to unfairly judge your site, and resultantly scare off customers. On the other hand, it could be a powerful branding tool, too.
For instance, take HideMyAss VPN's website as a prime example. They successfully used a donkey as a branding tool and successfully acquired a domain name matching their brand. However, such an edgy branding strategy and domain name may not be suitable for your audience. Take time to feel out your various market segments and dig deep into marketing personas before you risk offending potential leads with an edgy domain name.
Use A Backlink Tool on New Domains
Last but not least, note that it's worth the time and energy to see if there are already any backlinks pointing to a specific domain, especially if you're buying the domain directly from another individual or business. Sometimes, people choose to sell domains because they have been blacklisted by security authorities or have been penalized by Google.
There could be some hidden baggage associated with a domain name, so it's great to see what websites are already linking to it. If you see too many red flags, it may be time to hunt for a different domain.