Choosing you Domain Name
Choosing your domain name is a pretty important marketing decision, because the domain name that you choose will act as your brand online. This is what the consumer will associate with your online presence; this is what they will use to remember you exist online.
The following article is a no nonsense summary of how to choose a domain name.
Rule Number 1, Forget the Gaps
Whatever you do, forget about hyphens, underscores and dashes. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential visitor who is trying to get to your website by entering your domain name in a browser. If you have a hyphen or another complication which is beyond the obvious you are shooting yourself and your website in the foot and writing off a significant amount of people. They just won’t find you! Could a potential visitor guess your domain name? Do the test.
Rule Number 2, Don’t be Common
Avoid choosing a domain name which is a common name like using your words from your trade category for example. A shoe store in the real world doesn’t call itself “Shoe Store” for very obvious reasons. The owner knows that they need a unique name that differentiates it from competitors and helps consumers with identification. This is even more important on the internet. There is no physical store or logo; instead a brand encapsulated in words. Getting this right is essential. So rule number 2 is think unique.
Rule Number 3, Combine Words
A good way to create a unique domain name is to combine words together. Take several word associations with your products or industry and try mixing and matching to see how they sound and read. You might be surprised.
Rule Number 4, Leave the Offline where it is
If you are developing an online store or stand alone internet brand then create something funky and new. Do not consider leveraging your existing offline brand. There are numerous cases where large organizations have fronted their online ventures with their offline brand and failed. Take Television New Zealand for example. They launched the highly successful NZoom.com and quickly flew to the forefront of New Zealand internet news. Masterly building an online brand supported by TVNZ television media. Now strangely they have decided to promote tvnz.co.nz which I am afraid to say just doesn’t cut it on the Internet; simply because the brand doesn’t translate to the Internet. TVNZ has too much baggage; it already means something to people offline. So keep it simple, if your thinking big then it’s either an Internet only brand or not, but definitely not both.
Rule Number 5, Medium or Business?
If you are using the Internet as a device to support your existing offline business then by all means use your offline name. If your business is called “Joes Plumbing” then register the domain name joesplumbing.co.nz.
Rule Number 6, Small is Good
Keep it as small as possible. The larger your domain name the more it is for a visitor to make an error when typing it into the browser.
Rule Number 7, Spelling
Choose a domain name which is easy to spell. Simple isn’t it. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Rule Number 8, Choosing your location
Do I .com or .co.nz? This is an interesting one isn’t it? If you are thinking international then definitely “.com” it. If you are strictly focused in New Zealand then use “.co.nz”. If you are not operating on a shoe string then preferably buy them both and spend less time worrying.
Rule Number 9, Know your Market
Know your customers. Search engines will find your website based on content and other considerations. If you have good content and online value then it comes down to having a domain name that people are going to remember and talk about. Choosing a domain name that is easy to remember is tough. A good approach is to use a person’s name. Another way might be to create a domain name with two words that start with the same letter like “gingerbreadgeorge.com”.
Choosing a domain name requires you to be diligent and creative, just like coming up with a new name for a product or company except you need to be a bit more silly and crazy in the approach. I hope that this article has given you a few ideas, if you have any comments I would love to hear them.