Over the past decade, the number of domain names registered globally has nearly doubled to 352 million, according to data from registrar Verisign. About 40% of those—141 million—end in .com.
“It’s definitely harder for businesses to find a quality, available domain name today, compared to in the past,” says Carolyn Rodon, North American spokesperson for domain name marketplace Sedo.com.
Moreover, many first-time entrepreneurs don’t know the strategy behind choosing a domain name that will give them strong brand recognition while performing well in search-engine results. A great expansion in the types of extensions available—including the availability of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .yoga or .actor—beyond traditional ones like .net only adds to the confusion.
“You can pick up anything from .law to .legal,” says Joe Uddeme, founder of Baltimore-based domain name brokerage NameExperts.com. “There are all these extensions out there. Companies are confused, and they don’t know what to pick.”
Given all of the competition, yet seemingly endless possibilities, how do you choose a domain name that’s right for your business? Here are some pointers:
Keep it short
For branding and simple recall value, aim for a short domain name. “People are bombarded with website addresses every day,” Uddeme says. “If you want somebody to remember you, it has to be catchy, brandable and short.”
Reflect your business
Make sure whatever domain name you choose closely ties to your business—whether it’s your business name (“www.MariesSurfboards.com”) or what you sell or do. A reflective name will only help when people look for your business online.
Test it out
Before you settle on a particular domain, try it out. Rodon suggests testing a potential domain name with family and friends. “Do they know how to spell and write it correctly without you telling them?” she asks. “After a few days, can they recall the name?”
Check its availability
Before you get too attached to a particular domain name, make sure you can actually buy it. You can go to any online registrar, including Domain.com, Google Domains or GoDaddy, to see what’s available. (Keep in mind that registrars have different pricing and features, so you’ll want to choose accordingly in determining the registrar you go with.)
Weigh the .com advantage
Dot-coms are still the most popular choice because people generally assume web addresses end in .com and may forget a more obscure extension. But given a .com’s competitiveness and potential high price on the domain resale market, you might opt for a less-common extension, whether a gTLD or .net.
“There’s more competition around dot-coms, but a gTLD may be better than a .com or .net domain name that is too long or doesn’t make sense,” Rodon adds.
Moreover, search engines like Google reportedly don’t factor extensions in search results, so having a descriptive gTLD such as .bike won’t help your results—but it won’t hurt them either. A gTLD shouldn’t make it any harder to search-optimize your page, Uddeme says. A short domain name with a gTLD might be more memorable than a longer-named .com—so it’s worth thinking through all your options.
Ultimately, you want to make sure that your website can be easily found both by your customers and your prospective customers—and that means balancing a lot of things, including memorability, branding, price and availability.
All Spectrum Business Internet customers receive free domain name registration with no annual fees. New subscribers can transfer their existing domain name. To learn more, call 855-299-9353.
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