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Selecting a domain name can be one of the most important steps in getting online. A domain name, often appearing first, frequently shapes initial user impressions of your site. A well chosen name may increase user interest and drive web traffic, while a poorly chosen one may have the opposite effect. With these considerations, ample thought and time should be put into picking a domain name. Below are some guidelines to help you with this process.

 

Name Length

The length of your domain name is an important factor in determining its strength. Shorter names are often favoured over longer names. While longer names can be more descriptive, shorter names are more memorable and easier to type. This not only makes it easier for users to navigate directly to your site, but also reduces the chance for misspellings. Finally, shorter domain names are more recognisable and distinctive. It may be helpful to keep a name at or below 3 - 4 terms.

 

Keywords

Including relevant keywords in your domain name can increase its effectiveness. Domain names with descriptive words will allow first-time viewers to be able to recognise what the site does at a glance. It can also improve the chances that your site shows up to users who are searching for related products or services. For example, if you are operating a coffee shop, the terms “coffee” or “cafe” may be options to consider in the domain name.

Location can also be a consideration when choosing key terms. If your intended audience is constrained to a particular area, you may want to include it in your domain name. This lets your targeted audience not only find your site more easily, but also filters unintended audience outside your scope.

 

Branding

A brand is a unique, identifying symbol for a particular product or service that can help your domain stand out. Brands create potential for distinctiveness and longevity, as users are able to quickly recognise established and reputable brands. Brands can take time to develop, but a successful brand can pay dividends for your site’s popularity. There are many possibilities when creating your brand name, but beware of existing brands and trademarks – see Things to Avoid.

 

Domain Endings

An important factor to consider is the domain ending, or top-level domain (TLD) of your domain name. The most popular TLD is .com, but Google Domains offers a variety of TLDs to suit a wide range of uses, ranging from .academy to .zone. You can find the full list here. These alternative endings could help create a more distinctive image and better communicate the purpose and value of your site. For example, johnscoffee.com can now be listed as johns.coffee. Furthermore, alternative TLDs do not adversely affect your search ranking.

 

Things to Avoid

There are some elements that may negatively impact your domain name’s perception, including:

  • Using numbers or dashes in your name. These lower the perceived credibility or legitimacy of your site.
  • Misspellings of existing words or businesses. This can make your site come under suspicion for spamming or phishing.

  • Similarity to an existing brand or trademark. Naming your site and hosting content in a way that appears to be similar to an existing business may cause a copyright or abuse complaint to be filed against you, potentially resulting in your domain being suspended and subject to legal action.

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