There's a massive shift in business today to move online. Companies like Amazon and Alibaba are betting big that the future of shopping is digital. Others, like Apple and Walmart, are playing both hands. While their physical stores get full support, their online stores are equally important.
It's difficult to imagine any major business dismissing its online presence and still being successful.
Even small businesses are getting in on the action. A 2021 survey revealed that 71% of small businesses have a website.
The simple fact is that owning a website or domain name is vital for businesses, not just a luxury. And as a startup, you can get the best out of your business if you own a powerful domain name.
In this article I'll explain how to choose a domain name for your business.
Why Your Domain Name is Vital
You may remember when registering a business domain name was an afterthought. A luxury. Today it's a necessity that businesses can't do without.
Not long ago, paying an outrageous sum for a premium domain may have seemed like a poor business decision. But today, premium domains like tesla.com, cars.com, voice.com, and 360.com are all valued in the millions.
Unfortunately, brands that were late to the party had to get these domains from others.
The truth is that domains will only continue to get more valuable as the internet continues to gain ground in our daily lives. Businesses recognize this.
There's also the risk of competitors getting their hands on a domain similar to your business name. Your imagination can run wild with what they might do with it.
But even in the world of domain names, not all domains are created equal. While an ordinary domain would at least give your business access to the internet, premium domain names contribute significantly to a business's online and offline success.
Seven Crucial Elements to Consider When Searching for a Premium Domain
1 – Use a Short and Appealing Domain Name
The value of simplicity in a domain name cannot be overstated. Simple and short names, such as those provided by premium domain names, are easier to speak and remember.
And they don't rely on a client's spelling ability. Therefore, they offer more accurate results when clients search for your business online.
For instance, a website like “satquestionnaires.com” is harder to remember and has a higher chance of being misspelled. Therefore, a better choice would be “satquestions.com.”
A good domain name, especially one with keywords, sends a clear message to clients, allowing them to understand your organization's products and services with a glance.
But as I'll explain below. Using keywords is not always the best approach.
A great way to find the appropriate premium domain name for your company is by using a reliable domain name generator. But even if you choose to go through the stress of getting a name yourself, understanding these characteristics would go a long way in helping you.
2 – Use Keywords Sparingly
Keywords in premium domain names like electronicsrepair.com, email.com, and jewelries.com all inform clients about a company's products or services. And although they contain words relevant to their field, they are not complex.
But keywords are a double edge sword. While they can be good for search engines and inform people what your business is about, they might also limit your ability to expand in the future.
They can also be overly complicated.
For example, a domain name like fireextinquishingservices.com might contain relevant keywords but it's too long and complex. As a result, it's likely to be easily confused, misspelled, or mistyped.
It also limits future growth.
Instead, a premium domain name that might be better for your brand would be fireservices.com, which eliminates the flaws of the previous example.
However, there is a challenge with fireservices.com as well. Although it contains keywords, it doesn't specify whether your business puts out fires or if it starts them.
Does your business sell fireplaces, firepits, and firewood? Or does it sell fire suppression systems and professional services?
Maybe it sells both.
But, for the sake of argument, let's say your business currently sells fireplaces, firepits and associated supplies. These are all home and backyard related. A few years from now you expand your products to include backyard furniture, hot tubs, and gazebos.
Your domain fireservices.com is no longer an accurate representation of your business.
Premium domain names such as Meta.com and Microsoft.com avoid keywords, but nonetheless exude a fascinating, dynamic, and modern vibe that buyers find appealing.
So, unless your business name explicitly contains keywords, an industry-related ‘non-keyword' premium domain name is better for future growth and to build a strong brand identity.
3 – Choose a Strong Fit for Your Company
Premium domain names always stand out from generic ones since they are the most effective way to express your company's distinct identity. And most times, they match the company's name.
If you're starting a new company and haven't settled on a name yet, check that your domain is available.
Premium domains have an advantage over standard ones because they make it easy to remember your company's name. If you already have a brandable name, purchase a premium domain that matches your brandable business name if possible.
And avoid domain names that are significantly different from your brand name because it can risk your company's success.
It will be easier for customers to find you online if your domain name corresponds to your business's name and social media profiles.
4 – Choose a Trustworthy Domain Extension
While searching for the perfect domain name, remember that the domain name extensions (or TLD) you pick are crucial.
The extension is the last part of your domain after the (dot). For example, com, net, or org. These are also referred to as top-level domains or TLDs.
Unpopular TLDs add another detail for the client to remember. For instance, if your website was topfitness.biz, your customer might find themselves on topfitness.com, and you could potentially lose a sale to a competitor.
And although you may be tempted to choose a less expensive TLD, the most well-known premium TLDs are .com, .org, .io, .net, and .co.
Dot-com names are generally the most trustworthy and makeup nearly half of all domains on the internet. The second most popular is dot-net, with a relatively small 5.4%.
There are exceptions. For instance, if your business is local, you may want a country-specific domain like .ca, .uk, .au, etc.
Another exception is if your TLD makes up part of your business name. An example would be Visually, whose domain name is visual.ly.
Premium domains with these extensions can enhance your website's credibility and make it easier for your customers to locate you online. Avoid low-level domain extensions at all costs.
5 – Choose a Domain that Grows with You and Your Business
Premium domains with a brandable name (non-keyword specific) can grow with your company as you expand into new areas of business.
But it's not only your business that grows. You grow too, and your vision for your company might change.
For example, Jeff Bezos renamed his original business, Cadabra, to Amazon. Likewise, it's not uncommon for companies that don't use a premium domain to eventually upgrade to one.
Another example is Facebook's domain name change from thefacebook.com to facebook.com. And, of course, they recently updated their primary domain again to meta.com.
Your company's future growth could be restricted by a name like computersolutions.com because it will forever be associated solely with computers. Expanding into other tech sectors and devices might make it challenging to escape that specific association.
Choose a powerful domain name that symbolizes your company's current offerings and future development potential.
6 – Avoid Misspelled Words
While it might be clever to use a misspelled name, like Lyft or Flickr, unless you have a massive marketing budget to make it known nationwide, you'll forever be explaining how to spell it.
And if your business sounds like an actual word, even if unintentionally, people will be confused when sharing it verbally.
So, while some have broken through despite misspellings, it's a risk. For example, people recommending sites like Tumblr or Digg to their friends probably led to some frustration. And who knows, maybe that's one reason those sites have not become bigger than they currently are.
7 – Steer Clear of Numbers and Symbols
For the same reason you should avoid misspelled words, you should also stay away from numbers and symbols.
They only make it confusing.
Make it easy for potential customers to find you. And make it easy for your existing customers to spread the word and share your website with others. If they have to constantly explain to their friends that it's the number “2”, and not “two”, “to”, or “too”, they'll eventually give up and not bother.
They might love your business, but maybe not that much.
Grant Polachek is the head of branding for Squadhelp.com, 3X Inc 5000 startup and disruptive naming agency. Squadhelp has reviewed more than 1 million names and curated a collection of the best available names on the web today. We are also the world's leading crowdsource naming platform, supporting clients such as Nestle, Dell, Nuskin, and AutoNation.