Choosing an effective domain name is an important part of creating your Web visibility plan, but not the main driver of website success.
If your company name or abbreviation is not available, then you may want to consider using keywords in your domain name. Don’t worry about .com or .us, search engines will get visitors to your site regardless of which one you use. But stay away from .net, .info, and .org if you are a commercial business. Here are our tips for selecting an effective domain name.
1. If your company name is not available as a .com consider a .us or try an abbreviated version of your company name. .Org and .net usually are for non-profits and communications firms respectively stay away from these unless they are a good fit for your business type.
2. Choose a name that will grow with your business. When we started our firm name was McCord Web Design. Our main domain selected at that time was www.McCordWeb.com. Now our business name has changed to McCord Web Services and our domain name still fits with our core business. We do own www.McCordWebDesign.com and www.McCordWebServices.com though and you should definitely consider locking up your domain name variations for future use.
3. If you choose multiple keywords for your domain name, separate them with hyphens particularly if you are not doing print advertising. A search engine will read this domain www.MD-real-estate.com differently than www.MDRealEstate.com. The first will actually help you with search engines as your domain when referenced in absolute links throughout your website will build keyword density on your top keyword “MD real estate”. A search engine will read the second domain as just a string and not differentiate the words in the phrase not allowing any keyword density benefits when used.
4. If you are going to use your domain frequently in print advertising stick with something short and with a .com ending. Try not to do hyphens or confuse others by having a .net, .info ending etc when your main domain .com is taken. You run the risk of driving traffic to the wrong website; the one that holds your name but with a .com ending as reader will type in a .com usually without thinking.
5. Short is better! I’ve seen really long domain names, and these are fraught with problems as they can be misspelled any number of ways. Choose something that reflects your business. We have one client named H & R Mortgage choose www.helpful-mortgage.us as her domain when all other variations of her name were not available. This domain is a very workable example of what to do when what you want is not available.
6. Don’t freak out if your domain in .com is not available. There are so few .coms left that .us for American companies is totally okay. Remember, search engines will list your website by organic placement and all a reader does is click the link to get to you, so your domain name really becomes crucial for print advertising and as a keyword strategy in some cases.
These are just a few tips about choosing an effective domain name, but remember it is the content on your website that gets you placement and traffic not what domain name you actually choose.