Few things are more important to a company’s online success than a good domain name. Otherwise known as a web address, a company’s domain name is the Internet equivalent of its phone number. It is how prospects and customers find, learn about and interact with businesses on the web. But unlike phone numbers (which follow a standard 7-digit format), domain names are far less standardized. A company web address can be catchy, descriptive and memorable, or clumsy, vague and forgettable — based solely on how you select it.
Following is a concise guide on how to find a memorable domain name for your business. Ready to buy a domain name? Get one today!
Shorter is Better
There is no standard rule or requirement for how long a domain name must be. That said, the most memorable domains tend to be shorter than longer. There are several reasons for this. First, a shorter domain has fewer possible spellings or interpretations (more on that below.) Second, shorter strings of letters or numbers are naturally easier for the human brain to process and remember. College students, for instance, are often challenged by their psychology professors to memorize long strings of numbers. Keep in mind, however, that a domain name is limited to only letters, numbers and hyphens.
As Braingle.com reveals, the average person’s memory tops out at 7 numbers. For this reason, keeping domain names short and sweet, like hulu.com or apple.com, goes a long way toward ensuring that they are remembered when it counts.
Only One Possible Spelling or Interpretation
Another huge factor in how memorable your company’s domain name is involves whether it has more than one possible spelling. Remember that domain names are often passed around by friends or co-workers in verbal conversation. Can someone who overhears your domain name in passing easily type it in correctly the first try? WilsonWeb.com offers an all too common example of how important this is:
“Recently, Art-U-Frame.com was able to acquire the art.com name for $450,000. Can you blame them? If you were stuck with Art-U-Frame.com, even your mother couldn’t remember your URL.”
Using hyphens, possessive nouns before words that begin with the letter “S” (such as “victoriassecret.com”) or slang phrases all create confusion over the correct spelling of your domain name. If people cannot easily recall and spell it, they might get frustrated and visit a competitor’s website instead.
Despite your best efforts, even a short and memorable domain name will usually have look-alikes and alternate extensions. The “.com” extension was originally used for business sites, “.org” was used for non-profits and “.net” was used for technology-focused sites. Furthermore, with the expansion of ccTLDs (country code top level domains), companies have the option to utilize country-specific extensions like “.co.uk” or “.eu” to target the geographical location in which they do business. Today, however the lines are somewhat blurred and these extensions are used by sites of all interests.
Continuing the Art.com example — you might buy that domain, (or your company’s equivalent of it) but what about Art.net or Art.org? Unless you snap up these domains, a clever competitor could buy them first. Worse yet, a domain squatter could buy them knowing full well that some of your customers will type the wrong extension in by mistake – and charge you big bucks to buy the additional domains. Don’t let this happen. Domains are so cheap that there is no reason to leave any variations of the name out in the open for others to buy.
Descriptive of The Company
Your domain name should also clearly express what the company does. Having a short and memorable web address is a good start, but if it is also vague, it does your company no favors. Instead of simply looking for something catchy, strive to pick a domain that fits into and complements your overall branding. Think about the image that your company projects in its marketing materials, product packaging, slogans and other activities.
Then, pick a domain name that is both memorable and relevant to that same image. This way, each time a prospect or customer types the name, your brand and message will simultaneously be reinforced.
Same as Company Name
Ideally, a company’s domain name should be similar to or the same as its actual name. Think about it: the argument for having a memorable domain is that customers should both recall and readily associate it with what your business does. That being the case, shouldn’t the exact same criteria apply to the company’s offline name? Why should there be an arbitrary dividing line between what you call yourself on the web and off? The answer is that there should not be.
Both your company name and domain name should be short, memorable and descriptive. If possible, they should be one and the same.
If Your Desired Domain Is Already Taken
If the domain name you want is already taken, all is not lost. While you can opt to simply choose another one, you can also negotiate with the current owner of your desired web address and, if they are amenable, buy it from them. The first step is running a WHOIS search on the domain you are considering. In most cases, this will reveal the owner of the domain name (or at least who registered it.) Sometimes, the WHOIS file will contain false or hidden information.
So long as you can track down the owner, however, there is hope of persuading them to turn over their domain name to you. Just be prepared to pay market value, especially if the owner knows about your business and is aware of why you want their domain so badly.
Ready to buy a domain name? Get one today!