Whether you’re an individual user, a business, or a non-profit organization, if you’re going to create a new website, you’ll need to select a domain name. Ideally, you won’t want to change your domain in the future, as this could risk losing regular traffic, so it’s important to get it right the first time.
However, choosing the perfect domain name for your site is trickier than it sounds. If you’re struggling for inspiration, take a look at these seven things NOT to do when selecting a domain name for your new site:
1. Use the Wrong Extension
Your domain name extension is the very last part of your web address. .com, .ca and .co.uk are common examples. Most extensions are related to a geographical region, so .ca is ideal for business based in Canada, .nz refers to New Zealand and so on.
The only major exception to this is the .com extension. Although this is typically used to refer to American sites, it’s widely used in website development by individuals and brands all over the world. If you’re not sure which extension is best for you, choose .ca since you are here in Canada, or you can go with .com.
Although there are some fun and novelty extensions to consider, these can be hard for users to remember, so you may miss out on website traffic. If you want to stay safe, .ca and .com.
2. Not Including Your Business Name
When you’re choosing a domain name, it might be tempting to do something creative and choose a domain that relates to your business but doesn’t include its name. If you run a company called ‘Top Quality Cleaning’, for example, you could choose a domain, such as www.bestcleaners.ca.
However, this could harm your online performance in the long-term. Most search engines, including Google, factor this into their search engine result rankings. If your domain doesn’t include your business name, you might struggle to secure the top spots on search engine results pages (SERPs), no matter how much you invest in SEO.
3. Choosing a Domain Too Quickly
If you have a great idea for a business or a new site, you’ll want to get it up and running as quickly as possible. However, a significant amount of planning and preparation goes into any successful launch. As you’re developing a new brand, for example, you might go through a number of potential names and variations.
While you might be eager to secure your domain quickly, don’t be tempted to snap up a domain name until you’ve settled on your branding. If you register a domain too quickly, subsequent changes to your company name or brand could render it irrelevant, confusing or misleading.
4. Using Slang or Incorrect Spelling
When you’re searching for potential domain names, you might find that your top choice has already been taken by someone else. If so, it might be tempting to change the spelling a little or use slang to get a domain name that sounds like your brand. Some businesses change ‘Easy’ to ‘E-Z’, for example, or ‘W8’ for ‘weight’ or ‘wait’.
Technically known as gramograms, these switches might sound ok when you say the name aloud, but they don’t translate well when it comes to typing in a web address or searching for your business online. If someone hears ‘food while you wait dot com’, they won’t automatically assume that it will be spelled ‘foodwhileyouw8.com’, which means you could miss out on website traffic and sales.
5. Be Too on Trend
Choosing a trendy domain name might seem like a good idea at the time but what about in six months or six years’ time? Most buzzwords are ubiquitous for a few months before falling out of fashion and you don’t want to be left with an outdated domain name for your business.
If you want to capitalize on the latest trends when it comes to domains, you might be better off using them for landing pages, rather than for your main website. As landing pages are typically used for short-term promotions, they can reflect current trends without putting your future brand image at risk.
6. Assume It Sounds OK
When you’re selecting a domain name for your new site, it’s essential to say potential domains out loud several times! Most people will sit down at a computer and type in variations of their brand name in order to come up with a domain they like. However, this can lead to a domain that looks ok when it’s written down but sounds confusing or embarrassing when it’s said out loud.
Say the potential domain name aloud repeatedly and ask business partners, family members, and close friends to do the same. If you don’t pick up on any faux pas, they probably will. The ‘radio test’ confirms whether or not the average listener would be able to understand your domain if it was spoken on the radio, without any visual clues, so this is a great way to test the suitability of any potential domains.
7. Try to Copy Other Sites
Choosing a domain name that’s too close to another website or business name can be disastrous. Firstly, you’re likely to lose users to the other site if they get the name or web address wrong. Similarly, if they type the name into a search engine and the other site has better rankings, they’re going to benefit from your website traffic.
Secondly, you can be infringing a trademark or copyright, which may lead to you receiving a cease and desist request. If you’re forced to stop using your domain, you may need to rebrand and start from scratch, so it’s always best to avoid trying to emulate other sites or businesses when selecting your domain.
Finding the Perfect Domain Name
If you can’t come up with the perfect domain name straight away, don’t panic. It can take time to find a name that works for your brand (and is available!). Give yourself time to be creative, steer clear of these common mistakes, and look for inspiration from a variety of sources and you’re sure to come up with the perfect domain for your new site. When you’ve settled on one, you can check it’s availability on our website.