Domain Names – how to choose?

Registering a domain name

Firstly, you register a domain name rather than buy one. No-one owns their domain name outright, and you have to keep registering it to ensure it doesn’t fall into anyone else’s hands.

Should your domain be the same as your business name?

If it matters to you, yes, try and match your business name to your domain name and if you have a local business with a shop front, for example, this makes perfect sense.

Alternatively, you could brand your online business with a more appropriate name if it is just going to be an online store.

Should your domain name contain keywords?

From our experiences, good quality domains with exact keywords convert well. If you are searching for something specific and the domain name comes up in the results with those words in it – the searcher will think they have reached the right site and that you specialise in it.

How long should domain names be?

Keep it short – around three words at most, two is perfect and make it meaningful. If you have gone through a branding process – what have you found? What words describe your business? Is location important? Should you add a place name in your domain name?

What about hyphens in domain names?

Generally, we avoid using hyphens as it makes the site look spammy. There is no ranking benefit from using keywords in a domain name.

Should you register variants? 

People search in all kinds of ways and registering an ‘s’ for the plural is often worthwhile. If your name can be misspelt easily, purchasing that variant can also be of benefit. Also, purchasing variants can block future competitors from registering a variant of your name.

There are many domain name extensions, and to register .net, org, .biz, .info, and .co is a defensive tactic. Still, if you have someone in a developing country that picks up on your successful business and registers a close variant, it is expensive to hire lawyers to challenge the competitor’s registration.

What if the .com has been registered?

If the .com has been registered, and unless it is a keyword domain, then it may not be worth developing a site that someone else owns the .com version of. If nothing is happening on that .com version, it is possibly OK.

Be aware of previously registered domains.

If Google has penalised a registered name in the past and you purchase the name, you may find that it becomes impossible to rank. This may be because the spammer allowed the registration lapse and it appears on the market again. To check if it has been registered previously go to (known as the Wayback Machine) and it will show on their interactive timeline whether the site was previously registered.

It is doubtful that you would discover if the site had a previous penalty until you found it impossible to rank.

If you are starting a new business and want to discuss domain names and branding, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01403 292 120 or 07572 422 303. We’d be happy to help and give you the benefit of our advice.