Choosing a domain name

None of us are about to relaunch our company website with a new domain name, of course. But from time to time we might want a new website for a specific initiative, and it’s worth knowing the best practice for when that happens.

Our first inclination might be to choose a domain name related to the business. Makes sense, right? Well, only if that matters both to us and to our customers. If the Blue Widget Company is launching an online store for red widgets, and it’s not traditionally associated with the product, not necessarily that well known, and perhaps might be selling other people’s red widgets, perhaps it would make sense to call the site ‘The Red Widget Store’ rather than refer to the owner’s brand.

Getting keywords in the domain name has long been discredited as a way of gaining an SEO advantage. However, just because it doesn’t excite the algorithms, doesn’t mean it won’t interest customers. Do you think bluewidgetstore.co.uk might be a good place to investigate if you want to buy a blue widget? Of course it will be.

Like children’s names, domain names work best if they’re short, not weird, and easy to type correctly without having to spell them out. When I hear any business say: “Find us at (xxx).com, that’s written…” I want to scream. Avoid hyphens; there’s no SEO benefit, they have to be spelt out, and if they’re needed because two words together look odd, choose a different two words.

Finally, even if we only want the .co.uk (or whatever), it makes sense to avoid choosing a domain where the .com already belongs to someone else. It’s an invitation for problems in the future. Also, check the history of the domain at archive.org – we don’t want to be resurrecting something that had a bad reputation in the past.