Choosing your domain name is a big deal. One of the best parts of working with an advertising agency is taking advantage of all the lessons we’ve learned the hard way. This is one of them. I could just have easily titled this blog “Be Smarter About Your Domain Name Than We Were” but it seemed a little long.
Let’s start with a story. Way back in 2008 when I launched Momentum Consulting I brainstormed a lot of business names. I contemplated H2 or something with my name, but I wanted a business that might outlast me. I also wanted a company name that signified we were moving our clients forward. Momentum Consulting fit the bill.
Unfortunately the .com version of my company name was already taken. I searched for some alternatives and eventually found advertisingmomentum.com up for grabs. It checked a couple of boxes for me:
- Used at least part of my name
- Described what we do
- Included dot com
What I’ve learned since then is that a lot of people have trouble spelling those two really long words. Whenever I give someone my email address over the phone I’m always spelling it out. Add to the confusion that my mom spelled my name Hilary and not Hillary (thanks, mom) and at times getting email to my account can be an issue. Plus, some people think my company name is Advertising Momentum.
We’re now 13+ years into this domain name. My email address is saved into so many address books (that’s a good thing), and our domain name has some SEO credibility after all that time. Changing it would be a HUGE hassle.
Today I’m offering you an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. Take a look at these tips before you purchase your domain name. And if you need some help, who better to look to than someone who has already learned what not to do the hard way. (Us, I’m talking about us.)
Keep it simple & memorable
Every other tip builds on this one principle. It’s the one piece of the domain puzzle I didn’t get right. Simple. If people can remember your domain name, they’re more likely to search for it or load it correctly into the domain bar of their browser.
Stick with .com
At least we did this part right. You have a lot of options for top-level-domains including .realtor, .tech, or .biz. Leave those to someone else. People are programmed to type .com at the end of a domain name. A few exceptions exist like .gov (reserved for government entities), .edu (reserved for accredited degree-granting institutions of higher learning), and .org (most commonly used by non-profits). If your business doesn’t fall into one of those categories, stick with the .com.
Another one of the “right” things we did with our domain name. We are a digital advertising agency. At the time we were focusing on full-service solutions because digital advertising wasn’t what it is now. However, don’t violate the keep it simple principle to meet this one. Yourcompanyname dot com is always going to be the best bet. If you can add a keyword in without creating a long complicated domain name go for it.
Target Your Area
For regional or local companies that serve specific areas, adding your area to the domain name is a great way to set yourself apart from all the similar businesses in other areas. Plus it can function as a piece of your SEO by signaling exactly where you’re working. For companies focused on reaching our home state of Mississippi, we’ve added MS to the end of their domain names if their company name is already taken. It’s a great way to set your company apart and remain memorable.
Avoid numbers, hyphens, and double letters
First let’s talk about numbers. When you include a number in your domain name, your customers will always wonder is it the numeral or do you spell it out? Remember principle #1, keep it simple. Don’t leave your customer wondering which way it goes. Ditch the numbers. Also don’t be drawn in by the domain names with a hyphen. Take a look at all those spammy emails in your junk folder. See how many include hyphenated domain names? You don’t want to be associated with any of that. And finally, double letters increase the chances your domain name will be misspelled.
It’s easy to get carried away and purchase the first domain name similar to your company name that you find available. Before you add to cart, do a little research. Use a domain name generator to come up with some new ideas maybe you haven’t considered. List out keywords you want to be associated with your company or brand and explore how you can add one of those into your domain without sacrificing simplicity.
Hold Off on Premium Domains
My teenage niece bakes some pretty amazing cakes and cookies. My sister asked me about creating a website for her. We took a look at domain names and the one that fit her company name best cost well over a thousand dollars. For a large company who will make that back plus some easily, it’s not a huge deal, but for someone starting out it’s not the best investment. Before you shell out big dollars for a premium domain name consider whether the investment is really worth it for your company.
Register it quickly
Once you find your domain name, purchase it. Businesses are registering domain names every day. There’s no guarantee that your preferred domain name will still be available tomorrow or next week. You can purchase a domain name through multiple, reputable companies. Create an account with that company using the email address of the company owner or a general company email address that will be around for a while. Make sure the account uses a company card to pay for the domain name. The last thing you want is to spend all this time choosing a domain name to have the account set with an email address you can’t access after the employee leaves your company. This is your domain name. Own it. (Thankfully this is one mistake we didn’t make, but we’ve worked with companies who have.)
We love helping businesses build their brands including websites and social media voices. Whether you already have a domain name or need some help choosing one, we’re here to help you design or redesign a website to match the reputation you want for your company. Contact us for more information and to get started.