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Domain Name Selection Tips

Domain Name Selection Tips

Part of what we do – aside from online copy writing – is consult on all things textual and contextual, as it relates to websites and web marketing. 

Part of this involves domain name consulting services; or, in layman’s terms, choosing an Internet address.

Although there’s no hard and fast rule as to what makes a great domain name, common sense should rule. And sometimes, it even does.

A few domain name selection rules that will help you in your offline and online marketing efforts are:

1. The standalone rule: if you told someone your domain name, would it be obvious to them what it is you do?  And more importantly, would they be able to type it correctly into a web browser’s address bar?

This brings to mind an individual I met a while ago whose domain name was www.mrindemand.com; not being able to determine what he was ‘in demand for’, I asked: It turns out he is “Canada’s most in demand web guru.”  And if you don’t believe him, just ask him.  Glad I asked.

But Mr. In Demand is in good company.  Take, for instance, one of the larger U.S. Airlines www.united.com: Is it obvious what they do just by their domain name?

2. The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Rule: Try to keep your domain name short and sweet.  A good rule of thumb is 25 characters or less, including prefix (www.) and suffix (.com).  For an example of what NOT to do, check out http://www.llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch.com:  the self-proclaimed world’s longest domain name.

3. SEOing your domain name: Good SEO (aka Search Engine Optimization) has a lot to do with relevance; more to the point, building relevance into your website.  For instance, if your site is about the mating habits of ‘The Bearded Titmouse’ (and no, I did not just make this up), it would make good SEO sense to use this phrase in your web copy, meta information, links etc… 

Referencing rule #1, it would be ideal to have the actual phrase as your domain name.  For those interested, www.thebeardedtitmouse.com is still available.

4. Geo-target: Who and where your audience is should play into your domain name choice. For example, if you provide a service solely for people in Toronto, Ontario Canada, it would make sense to register a domain name with a Canadian suffix (.ca): this will not only help your search engine efforts (assuming you’re targeting Toronto, Ontario Canada), but will also provide a visual clue to your audience that you’re a Canadian site – great for people that want to shop locally.

Taking it one step further, consider including your targeted city name, for example; [www.torontomyservice.ca]. All things being equal, people will default to the .com, so try to lock that one up as well.  In a perfect world, the .ca and .com domain names would be identical; except for their .ca and .com suffix.

But keep in mind that Geo-targeting can be tricky.  For instance, while working with a Veterinary Clinic in Newmarket, Ontario, the client wanted to target [Newmarket, Ontario] and [Aurora Ontario]:  lo and behold, these 2 local markets ended up having counterparts in other countries: [Newmarket, England] and [Aurora, Colorado] and [Aurora, Illinois].  As a result, someone in Ontario searching for a ‘Newmarket Vet’ may get a Veterinary Clinic in Newmarket, England.

5. Keep to your A, B, and C’s: I recently did some work for a new company whose domain name began with three digits; the digits in question being ‘101’.  In essence, the domain would end up looking something like this [www.101myservice.com]. 

Had you heard about this website, and were not given the proper spelling or alpha-numeric sequence, how would you search it out?  How many times would you try before you just gave up?

6. Don’t become famous for the wrong reasons: People love to make lists on the Web, some are good and others are not so good.  For example, if you have a website, you definitely want to avoid Vincent Flanders’ list of www.webpagesthatsuck.com/

Also, try to avoid ‘The top 10 unintentionally worst company URLs’ list, which includes www.speedofart.com (this apparently has something to do with art), and www.ipanywhere.com (which has everything to do with remote access software).

There are a number of considerations when choosing a domain name, and ways around some of the above problems already mentioned.  But at the end of the day, try to keep it simple and be creative; just not too creative.  Your domain name should provide a clue as to what business you’re in.

Ray Litvak
www.writingwebwords.com
Web Content Writing & Online Copy Writer – Toronto
 

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