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Choosing a business domain name is an important moment for any entrepreneur when starting their business. Your business’s name defines you and your brand—and it will stick with you for a while.
Just as your business’s name is your identity among your customers, your community, and your market, your business domain name is your identity online.
It’s how people browsing the web will find you and promote your business.
So, how do you pick the perfect business domain name? With nearly 8,400 domain names being picked every day, how can you stand out?
We’re going to show you 12 things you need to consider when choosing your business domain name. But first, let’s understand a little bit more about what a business domain name is, and why you need one.
A business domain name is the name of the business’s website. For example, you are currently on www.Fundera.com, which is the business domain name of Fundera. Anyone with an internet connection can type in the combination of letters, numbers, and symbols that correspond with a business’s domain name in a web browser and access that business’s website.
Domain names exist because they make it easier to browse the internet. If not for domain names we would have to use an IP address, which is a long string of numbers and letters computers use to recognize a website.
There are several parts to a domain name, including the extension or top-level domain (TLD). This is the suffix at the end of the domain name. In the case of Fundera, the extension is “.com.” Other common top-level domains include “.edu,” “.net,” and “.org” (more on these later). There is also a second-level domain, which is the part that precedes the TLD. In the case of Fundera, the second-level domain is, well, “Fundera.”
For the purposes of your business, this jargon isn’t that important. But what is important is choosing a domain name for your business that is simple and memorable. We’re gonna show you how to do it.
If you’ve never started a business and had to come up with a business domain name before, you have a few unknowns ahead of you.
You might be tempted to dive right in and choose any domain name that comes to you first. But whether you’re registering a domain name for your brand-new business or launching an ecommerce platform for your business, choosing the right business domain name takes thought and consideration.
There’s a variety of different ways that your domain name affects how your business does—from your brand authority to your presence in the search engines, online marketing efforts, and traffic to your website. It’s the reason certain business domain names are worth millions of dollars.
Put simply, it’s an important step to making your business succeed.
Here are the 12 things to think through when choosing your business domain name.
Choosing a top-notch business domain name is a balancing act.
You want it to be memorable—something that a potential customer could fully internalize, remember, and pass along in an email, text, on the phone, or even in a conversation.
Research done by McKinsey & Company shows that word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchase decisions—so you want to make sure that people can remember your business’s domain name to the point where they can pass it along to a friend.
Choosing your business domain name is a great branding exercise—this is your time to get creative and smart with how you tie your brand to your domain name.
But on the other hand, your business domain name should be simple.
Long abbreviations, double meanings, numbers, hyphenated words…they can be busy and distracting.
When you’re brainstorming your business domain name, think about how hard the name is to spell, and type it into Google or your browser. If potential customers get caught up trying to work through your domain name, you’ll lose a significant portion of your traffic.
Along those same lines, keep your business domain name short.
Even if the best domain name you have in the works meets all your other requirements—it’s catchy, simple, to the point, but just a little long—you’re better off having a shorter domain name.
Say you run a deli and want to build a website to facilitate online ordering.
Sure, “bensslidersandsubsshack.com” might be original, descriptive, and—with that little bit of alliteration—catchy, but users could get lost and overwhelmed when they’re trying to get to the site, or they might be too lazy to type out the link to share with others.
In this case, “bensdeli.com” might do the trick.
The internet is all about getting the answers and results you want—fast. If your business domain name is lengthy, wordy, and slows customers down, your business and online presence will suffer for it.
If close to half the amount of purchasing decisions depend on word-of-mouth marketing, then you better hope that people can pronounce your business domain name to share it with others.
When you’re brainstorming domain names, do a quick check to see if you can literally say it out loud. Ask a friend or colleague to read your business domain name and say it back to you.
If they fumble on the words, take a long time to internalize it or completely mispronounce it all together, maybe it’s better to scrap that name.
And in another sure-fire way to make sure your business domain name is as clear as possible—reverse this test. Say it out loud to a friend, and ask them to write it down on a piece of paper.
Did they get it right? That’s a good sign that the business domain name is easy to understand and totally clear when you hear it said out loud.
Having a memorable business domain name is great—and if the stars align and your business domain name is both catchy and clear, then good for you!
But when it doubt, go with obvious.
You want your business domain name to be intuitive and digestible. Having a subtle and clever name might not fully register with your visitors, and you could lose the opportunity to grab their attention and convey what you do.
If your visitor can click on your website domain name and intuitively understand what kind of page they’ll land on or what business you run, then that’s a big positive for your business domain name.
If you’ve kept those five tips in mind while crafting your business domain name, you’re well on your way to owning a stellar domain name for your brand.
But as you’re working through the linguistics of your business domain name, always check back into the goals of your website and business to make sure you’re staying on track.
It’s easy to get lost in fun, catchy, to-the-point business domain names and stray too far from a domain name that actually identifies your business and conveys your business’s goals.
But if you want to be found online, you should make sure that your business domain name makes sense with what your service and business are.
Today, you can get business domain names with all kinds of extensions, a.k.a. top-level domains.
With .com, .net, .biz, .org, .brand, .me, and many, many more, you have a big decision to make in choosing your domain name’s extension. In fact, there are literally hundreds of TLDs floating around.
If you’re not sure what some of the most popular ones are used for—or even mean, for that matter, here’s a list of the TLDs you can consider:
Obviously, .com is the most popular choice for a domain extension—unless you’re working or starting a business in the tech world. It’s usually the most popular choice for a business domain name because it’s the most recognized and accessible brand.
So if you’re trying to have an easy, recognizable business domain name, .com is probably the best extension for you. You’ll be able to build up a very brandable domain name that your customers and network can share.
Another pro tip for choosing a business domain name is to think about how you’ll use it online, but beyond just a website.
If you want to have a social media presence, with a Twitter handle, Instagram account, or Pinterest account, check to see if your website’s domain name is available across social handles before you lock it in and purchase it.
Having your social media accounts connected to your main business domain name and brand will help facilitate the “brandability” and recognizability we keep bringing up.
While the complete phrase in your domain name might not be fully available for every type of social handle out there, you might be able to tweak it slightly so that it remains connected to the general brand and is recognizable.
When you’re coming up with your business domain name, now’s not the time to be a copycat and go with a domain name similar to an existing company.
First off, you’ll have the added trouble of trying to separate your brand from the brand that has a similar domain name. It will be an advertising and marketing nightmare.
And further, you might be legally crossing the line if your business’s domain name is too similar to another’s.
As you’re brainstorming for your business domain name, check to make sure you’re not infringing upon someone else’s copyrights.
If your business domain name is considered to be too similar and easily confused with another business, that business could take you to court for it. And in that scenario, it’s up to the judge to decide whether the two names could potentially be misrepresented and confused.
These are dangerous waters that you should do your best to avoid at all costs. So, as you’re coming up with your business domain name, check to make sure it’s totally unique.
Keywords in business domain names can be helpful from an SEO perspective.
If you run a lamp business and you exclusively want to be found online when people search “lamps and shades,” then maybe you’d want your business domain name to be “johnslampsandshades.com.”
For one, these main keywords will help with the cognitive recognition of your brand—there’s no mistaking what John does and sells when a visitor comes to his website. It can also help from an SEO perspective in that people around the web will likely link to you on the anchor text “lamps and shades”—exactly the keywords in your domain name.
But when it comes to adding in keywords to your business domain name, you don’t want to get too specific, pigeonholing yourself for the future. If John ever wanted to pivot to a massive lighting company, “johnslampsandshades.com” would be a pretty narrow description of what he does.
So if you want to put keywords into your domain name—you can. Just try to stay as broad as possible with target keywords so you don’t close any doors down the line.
By now, you’ve followed a lot of steps and tips to come up with an awesome business domain name.
If you’re set on one absolutely perfect business domain name, you might be crushed to find that it’s already taken.
Brace yourself for disappointment, and don’t marry yourself to just one domain name.
And for that matter, it’s a good idea to check to see if the business domain name is available before you spend weeks crafting the name and having your creative team work through it.
If you run a check on a potential domain name (just by searching it, or using a tool to check for you like Instant Domain Search) and find that it’s taken, try adding a suffix or prefix that makes it unique, or use a different TLD than you were planning.
But remember, if the domain name is already taken and you’re trying to come up with something similar, you might have a problem keeping it separate from other brands.
Domain names sell fast. When you have the perfect business domain name, move quickly!
They aren’t expensive, and you’ll avoid the disappointment of losing out on an awesome business domain name that you’ve spent time working through.
Now that you have some good ideas for business domain names, go check to see if they’re available on GoDaddy.com, Register.com, or another accredited domain registar.
All accredited domain registrar services have search functions that will show whether your name is available and provide alternatives to your business domain name if it’s already registered. Note that some registrars will only register names with certain TLDs.
To get through the process, you need to provide some contact information to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—the governing body for domain names.
You’ll pay a fee of anywhere from $10 to $35 to register the name depending on the service you use.
Next, you’ll need to link the domain name to your website by entering the name of your web host’s primary and secondary servers into the provided domain manager. Note that if your website isn’t live yet, you can also “park” your domain so that it is not active yet.
And once you score your business domain name, don’t let it expire! Even the biggest brands have their domain names expire. Almost 20,000 domain names expire each day.
Don’t lose your perfect business domain name by forgetting to renew it. Set a calendar reminder right when you purchase your domain for when you have to renew it. Most domain names last for one year.
Now that you know the 12 things to keep in mind when creating a business domain name, it’s time to get the creative juices flowing and come up with something that will drive traffic to your business’s website. It may take time, but finding a great domain name is worth the investment.
For additional advice, check out our infographic below on choosing a business domain name.