How To Choose A Domain Name

by Nicole Q-Schmitz

3 min read

Once you’ve decided that you need a website for your business, there is still some setting up to do before your site can “go live”. There are two components required to get a website online: a hosting account and a domain. Hosting refers to where your files are stored and there are multiple options available depending on the size of your website, whether you need e-commerce, email, and more. A domain, also known as a domain name, is the actual link that you type in the web browser to access a website. Domains are unique to each website and can be completely customizable. So, what is the best domain name for your business?

A few domain name basics:

  • Should be easy to spell
  • Should be a good length and not too long
  • Cannot contain spaces, or punctuation marks (! , ? .), but you can use hyphens to create a space between words

The easiest option for choosing a domain name is to simply use your business name. This is great for businesses with names that describe what they do, such as “Anne’s Cupcakes” and “Discount Motorboats”.  However, if your business name isn’t easy to remember, is confusing, or made up of multiple names or words, such as “Jones, Jim, Smith and Wallace Lawyers”, then you should consider an alternative domain name.

Determining Availability

Once you’ve figured out a domain name, or have considered a few options, you’ll need to check to make sure no one else has used it already. The easiest way to do this is to simply type the name into a website browser address bar, and see if anything comes up. This isn’t fool-proof, however, as even if the domain doesn’t return a result, there is still a chance that someone has the domain, but hasn’t set up a website yet.

The best way to verify the availability of a domain name is to use the search functionality of a domain name registrant. Many domain name registrants also offer hosting services, therefore you will most likely be able to use the same company for your hosting plan. Some registrants, such as GoDaddy, will even offer alternative name suggestions if your preferred domain name isn’t available, and will include a list of different extensions as well, ex: .com versus .ca.

Other Considerations

When choosing a domain name, you should also keep Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind. SEO is the practice of improving your site’s rankings in search engine results. Thankfully, many of the same tips for selecting a good domain name also apply to having strong SEO for that domain. You might also want to consider having a couple of different domain names for different product lines, business divisions or locations you have. For example, if you’re the owner of Anne’s Cupcakes, you could have your main website and domain name be your business name, and then purchase subsequent domain names for any additional locations you have (ie: Ottawa Cupcakes or Alberta Cupcakes). That way, it would be easier for people who are searching for cupcakes in either of those locations to find your website(s).

A word of caution, it’s not a good idea to purchase a bunch of domain names and have them all point to your main website, especially if they have nothing to do with your business. This could hurt your SEO rankings because you will appear like a spammer trying to falsely gain website visitors. An example of this would be if you were a motorboat retailer in Vancouver and you purchased domain names relating to “best vacation getaways”, “Toronto discount hotels”, “cheap places to eat in Vancouver” or similar. While they could technically apply to aspects of what you offer, people who are looking for cheap places to eat are most likely not going to be the same people looking to buy motorboats.

I have purchased a domain name, now what?

Once you’ve selected and purchased a domain name, and subsequently set up your website and hosting account, it’s time to let your friends, colleagues and customers know about it! Put the address on all your business cards, posters, and other branding materials and don’t forget about your social media and online accounts as well. If you haven’t set up any social media accounts for your business, be sure to read Does your Business need Social Media.

Photo Copyright: Janaka Dharmasena

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