Choosing a domain for your business website is not a decision to take lightly.
There are a few important things to consider when picking a domain.
Of course, availability is a major consideration. Some startup businesses today even use domain availability when brainstorming a business name.
If you’re looking at choosing a domain for a business website we’re going to take you through various factors to consider so you can make the best decision.
1. Business Name vs. Keyword
Perhaps the biggest challenge with picking a domain is the choice between using your business name and using a keyword.
For example, a dentist, John Smith Dental, in Phoenix would have the choice between johnsmithdental.com or phoenixdentist.com or something similar.
The idea for using a keyword is that potential customers that the business is looking to attract wouldn’t know about John Smith Dental, but they would go on Google and search for “Phoenix Dentist”.
In years past, keyword-based domains may have performed better. Today, however, Google and other search engines seem to look past keyword-based domains and other similar attributes and focus on finding the best results for searchers.
So if Google gathers information that John Smith Dental is the best dentist in Phoenix, they would like rank the website high no matter what the domain is especially if a dentist with phoenixdentist.com does not have a good reputation.
That brings it back to your business name. You can think of your domain like you would a sign on your office or store. It’s part of your identity. Usually you would use your business name in big bold letters and perhaps use a sub-heading underneath to describe what you do.
So the sign might look like:
John Smith Dental
Your Family-Friendly Dentist In Phoenix
Thinking about things that way the best domain would be: johnsmithdental.com. But as you might know it’s not always possible to choose the exact business name.
If that is the case there are some common options that add words to the beginning or end of the name. For John Smith Dental it might be:
Some businesses use other options. For example, app called Wallet might use getwallet.com or something like that.
You want it to be close to your business name without changing it too much or making it too long.
2. .com vs. .other
When your business name is taken it’s often a possibility to choose a different domain ending.
For example, a business might go with sarahlynn.design
You’ve probably seen a number of different domain endings like .info, .cc, and many others.
Moz has a recommendation for this and that is to avoid these types of domain endings. They can look spammy. Spam companies have often used these domain endings to run spam sites and Google and other companies are on the lookout for them.
It’s best to go with the .com ending whenever possible. You can also go with .org if you are an organization.
Different domain endings can work, but it might be more work than it’s worth to build the authority or your site and brand because you’ll likely have more of a stigma to overcome if you’re using an uncommon domain ending.
Hyphens have been used in the past as well to allow businesses to use their full names. And in the early days of the web it was common to separate words using hyphens. So you might have seen john-smith-dental.com.
Over time, however, people became comfortable with all the words in a domain running together. So hyphens are not as common today and some search engines and other organizations associate hyphens with spamming since some spamming sites use hyphens.
It’s best to avoid hyphens.
In general, shorter is better when it comes to domains.
I would place a higher importance on getting close to your brand name. So johnsmithdental.com would be better than jsdental.com even though the latter is shorter. You want your domain to match as closely as possible to what people will search for or associate with your company.
As you start adding words like “get” or other words your URL will get longer, but it still might make the most sense since people relate to your brand name.
Abbreviations can be tricky. Often, people might start associating the abbreviation with the company name and a business might shorten their actual business name. So jsdental.com is used and eventually the business name is changed to JS Dental.
Length is important to consider, but not at the expense of using a domain that is not easily associated with your company name.
5. Title Tags & Other Content
As I kind of mentioned earlier, from a search perspective the overall reputation of your website is taken into consideration. Your website might rank high for a certain term and that term might not even appear on your web page.
This is why it’s important to consider all the content on your site including the title tag and other content.
From a search perspective, someone might search for “dentist in phoenix”. They see the result for John Smith Dental that looks like this:
John Smith Dental: Your Family-Friendly Dentist In Phoenix
We offer cleanings, exams and basic dental services for the entire family.
The URL is important, but it could be something different. If the other content on the site, especially the title tag, is associated with your brand then people will be able to google for your business name and find the right site.
Choosing a domain can be frustrating. If your business name is available with the .com ending then you’re pretty much set. If not, things can become frustrating as you work to find one that works the best.
The first consideration is to stay as close to your business name, your brand as possible. Think of your domain like you would a sign on your door. It’s how people will learn what to call you.
Hopefully the tips above can help you find a domain that works well for your business. It is important to choose a domain, but ultimately your domain will become known for the quality of the product or service your provide, your authority and reputation in the industry and how well your use your website to explain and sell your offering.