One of the few decisions you’ll be stuck with for a long time is your site’s domain name.
Domain names have a huge impact on your brand and the digital marketing strategy you choose to adopt. Not to mention, they’ll influence many metrics associated with your site’s success. To name a few:
- Click-through rate (CTR).
- Search engine results.
- Online and offline advertising.
For this reason, you simply can’t go with the first domain that comes to mind without making sure it’s brandable and SEO-friendly. With this in mind, in this post, we’ll help you settle on the perfect domain name for your website by making sure it ticks every box on our checklist and what you can do if it doesn’t. We’ll also cover some quick tips to help you refine your domain name for SEO.
Checklist for Choosing a Brandable Domain Name
If you’re anything like me, you can come up with a list of domain names whenever someone runs a business idea by you. Which is exactly why when you decided to start your own website, you already had half a dozen domain names in mind.
But how can you be sure they’ll fit in with your brand and do well in terms of SEO before testing them out for yourself? The short answer is: you can’t.
What you can do, however, is make sure the domain name you ultimately end up going with follows best practices and is brandable.
#1: Easy to Remember
A good domain name is memorable. Why?
Take a moment to think of how many websites are on the Internet and how many of them you can name off the top of your head. Do they have catchy names that are easy to remember?
The thing is that word-of-mouth marketing is still a thing. Chances are you’ll find yourself talking to someone and having to tell them about your site at some time or another. Word-of-mouth marketing happens more often than you realize and it’s a great way to help your brand spread faster.
What’s the point of having a website if no one can remember what it’s domain name is? This is where the line between easy to remember and easy to spell gets blurry. Which brings us to the next point…
#2: Easy to Pronounce and Spell
Something that’s easy to say out loud and in your head is easier to remember then something that’s relatively more difficult.
While this varies somewhat depending on where you’re located in the world and where your target audience is, it’s mostly a good idea to prioritize domain names that are easy to pronounce for everyone regardless of the language they speak.
Mitsubishi is easy to pronounce and spell. If you heard it for the first time over the radio, you’d be able to remember it, type it in your browser, and find their website pretty easily.
Having a domain name that’s difficult to pronounce (and, therefore, difficult for the brain to process) isn’t going to help you retain a place in the mind of visitors in the long run.
#3: Describes Your Brand
If you’ve set out to create a website then you probably have some idea of the brand you’re trying to create. Which is why it’s important that your site’s domain name also fits in with the brand’s complete picture.
This automatically rules out domain names that have hyphens and numbers in them. They don’t sound like brands. They look strange in URLs. They don’t fit the brand picture.
Think of it this way: when you forget a site’s exact name, do you try out alternatives that have hyphens in them? Yeah, me neither.
This brings up another point.
If your domain name is only clear and easy to understand with the use of hyphens, you should probably consider changing it. Again, let me explain through example; see if you can figure out what’s wrong with these domain names:
And yes, all of these are real websites.
A domain name gives people a strong idea of what that site is about. And a good domain name proves it.
3 Tips to Refine Your Domain Name for SEO
Domain names have a huge impact on your website’s success, search engine optimization (SEO), and digital marketing. An SEO-optimized domain name instantly gives people a general idea what your website is about and what you’re offering through it.
Here are a few ways you can polish your domain name to give your brand a boost with search engines:
#1: Include Keywords
Including broad keywords on your site’s domain name makes it easier for visitors to remember your site. And though Google released a filter for low-quality, exact match domains (EMD) all the way back in 2012, you can still work your way around its negative impact if your website is good. The same goes for partial match domains (PMD).
There are two ways exact match domains and partial match domains can potentially help your site’s ranking: keyword inclusion in the domain and keyword inclusion in the anchor text. The words that are used to link to your site (aka the anchor text) have a positive influence on your site’s SEO. So, whenever someone links to your site, they’ll do so with your site’s URL. And if that URL has a keyword, the URL link will, too.
Basically, including keywords in your domain is a good idea if you’re building a high-quality site that doesn’t give off spammy vibes. That said, partial match domains do better than exact match domains both with users and search engine bots. For instance, if there were two sites that helped you make money online MakeMoneyOnline.com and SmartPassiveIncome.com, which would you go to?
But if you’re looking to build a sustainable brand then you should always try to go for a brandable name. Popular websites like Google, Reddit, Twitter have branded domain names. They might not give you immediate SEO benefits but they’re (mostly) always better in the long run.
#2: Make It as Short as Possible
Did you know that your domain name can be up to 253 characters long while each label in it may contain up to 63 characters?
Here’s a live website with a 63-character label in its domain name: 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592.com.
Should you have a really long domain name, though? No.
The shorter the domain name, the better. This has a lot to do with human readability and processing fluency. Shorter names are easier to remember, easier to process, and easier to understand. And they’re easier to type in the address bar and search engines.
Imagine having to type BloggIncTheContentCreators.com in your address bar every time you wanted to visit this site. Isn’t BloggInc.com a whole lot simpler?
And it’s not just us humans that prefer shorter domain names. You might have noticed that URLs of longer domain names are often cut off when shared online. Shorter domain names will appear in full whenever you share links on social media platforms or view results in search engine result pages.
Your domain name should be a name. Not a sentence.
#3: Go for a Generic Top-Level Domain
Alright so, top-level domains (TLD) aren’t exactly part of the domain name but it’s still something you have to pick out when you’re registering a domain.
Plus, most smartphone keyboards have built-in .com keys and laptop/desktop users use the CTRL + Enter combo to quickly access .com sites.
Brandable domain names also do better with .com TLDs as opposed to clever ones like .pizza or .blue. It’s also a good idea to get it early on so you’re not paying more for it later when your site becomes successful and you feel the need to switch over to a .com TLD to look professional. Start with the end in mind.
This is precisely why we went with BloggInc.com instead of Blogg.Inc.
However, if a .com domain isn’t available for your domain name, you can also try for a .net, .org, or .co TLD. These are also generic TLDs that are recognizable across the world.
And if you’re running a local business, you might even consider going for a known, country code TLD (ccTLD). So, if you’re based in the European Union, you would go for .eu. And if you’re somewhere in the Netherlands you would want the .nl ccTLD.
By now, the list of domain names you started out with should be slightly smaller. Or maybe you added a few more entries to it.
As long as the domain name crosses off all the boxes on our checklist, you should be all set to register a successful, brandable, and SEO-frienldy domain for your site. Let’s quickly recap the main points:
- Your domain name should be easy to remember.
- Your domain name should be easy to pronounce and spell.
- Your domain name should (accurately) describe your brand.
Once you have one picked out, try to include keywords in it if you can, make it shorter, and always try to go with a generic TLD.