When you are starting a website, one of the first things you need to think of is the domain name. Now, you might be wondering, how important is it really? If your website has useful information and is high-quality, people will still come, right?
Unfortunately, no, this is not always the case. Choosing a domain name can maximize the visibility of your website. It can also make your brand more recognizable and help you stand out from your competition.
As of January 1, 2020, there were more than 1.7 billion websites on the internet. That is up from 900 million in January 2016. That number is literally growing every second. That means that 1.7 billion domain names have already been chosen, and you can’t use that for your own website.
In 2020, it might seem like a nearly impossible task to find the right domain name for your business. Something unique, explains your business, and is available is a tough task. Here are our top tips for picking a great domain name in 2020.
Why Is a Domain Name So Important?
The domain name is one of the crucial elements of your business and your website. While it might not seem like a super big deal to create the perfect domain name, it can make a big difference and here’s why:
- It is the first impression. The URL is the first thing that people will notice about you. By having a domain name that coincides with your desired image, then you will have a better chance of attracting people. However, if you pick a strange or bad domain name, it might send people running away!
- It can help define your brand! Much more on this later, but your domain name is your first branding opportunity. Having the right domain name can help people recognize your brand a little easier.
One myth about domain names is having to stuff it with keywords. Before, Google would rank you higher if you had the keywords in your domain name. Before exact match domains (EMD) were necessary because it seemed it helped portray a relevance signal to the keywords. Back in 2011, Matt Cutts, a previous member of the Google search engine optimization team, confirmed this was the case, and keywords were indeed taken into account within the domain name. However, this is no longer the case. John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, revealed, "…just because keywords are in a domain name doesn't mean that it'll automatically rank for those keywords. And that's something that's been the case for a really, really long time."
He also went on to say, “it's kind of normal that they would rank for those keywords and that they happen to have them in their domain name is kind of unrelated to their current ranking."
Because so many EMDs were using spam techniques to get ahead in the Google SEO algorithm, Google introduced a new EMD update that essentially put an end to this practice.
Therefore, when you are choosing a keyword in 2020, you don’t necessarily have to have a keyword in your domain name to help with SEO. Think about TechCrunch, Wikipedia, Reddit, Medium, etc. Everyone knows these names, and it has nothing to do with their particular product. Follow these types to discover the best domain name for your new website.
How To Choose A Good Domain Name
Branding, Branding, Branding
Now is the time to be creative and brandable. Creating something generic is not going to do you any favors because you want it to be memorable. Your domain name hosted at a domain hosting service is how people will find you on the internet, so you should be sharing your company properly on the web.
Create a brandable domain that can stand out from the competition and is unique to your business. If you instead opt for creating a generic domain name, it won’t be memorable and is generally obviously full of keywords.
Think of some of the top companies … Amazon, Google, Facebook. They all created a unique name and domain name around the name of their company. They didn’t use bigstore.com, searchforthings.com, and socialmedia.com. If you choose to create a generic name, it makes it easy for you and your website to get lost in the noise of the internet.
Create a more brandable domain name by:
- Create a new, catchy word like Google, Facebook, or Twitter.
- Use unusual words to describe your business
- If all else fails, use a domain name generator. It can help you create a unique, brandable name. Just enter your keywords and brand name ideas, and it can create a new list for you!
Keep it Simple
When it comes to domain names, short and straightforward are generally better. According to Gaebler.com, the top five websites have around six characters in their domain names. And if you look further down the list of popular sites, there does seem to be a direct correlation between the length of the domain name and web traffic received.
The ideal length for domain names seems to be between 6-14 characters. Just remember, shorter is generally better.
It should also be easy to type. You don’t want to have to explain how to spell or pronounce it more than once. If it is too complicated, you are missing out on a great branding opportunity, and if people keep misspelling your domain name, they might accidentally visit the wrong site!
Remember, you don’t need to stuff your domain with keywords. Mueller also said, “I believe that it is a very small ranking factor. So it is not something I'd really try to force. And it is not something I'd say it is even worth your effort to restructure your site just so you can get keywords in your URL." If you are looking of changing your already established and ranking URL to one that includes keywords, that might not be a good idea and not help you with your SEO.
Perform a simple test. Ask ten people to pronounce or spell your domain name. If the majority are struggling, then it is a sign that you need to rethink your name.
Nothing is worse than falling in love with a domain name only to discover that someone else has already claimed it. Use a tool such as HostAdvice's Whois lookup tool to check whether the domain name you want is available.
Also, check to see if it is available on social media sites or if there are any trademarks associated with it.
To effectively brand your company, you want to make sure you can use the same name for your domain and social media sites. It can help build your reputation and familiarity, and it can help your visitors find you a bit easier.
Use the Right Domain Name Extension
You’ve done the first part of the domain name—now you have to choose the second half! This is the “.com,” “.net,” “.org” part of the name.
For the most part, you should probably be choosing “.com” for your domain name extension. Research from Registrar Stats found that 75% of domains have the “.com” extension, the second is “.net,” and the third is “.org.”
Use .net or .org as a backup if your chosen name is taken already under “.com.” Once again, you want to make it as simple as possible for people to find you.
There are also country-code TLDs (ccTLD) is a domain that has an extension that shows a relationship between the country and the website. For example, .it for Italy, .es for Spain, .fr for France, and .ca for Canada. Some people believe that using a ccTLD can help you rank better within your particular region.
According to the Google Search Console help center, ccTLDs “are a strong signal to both users and search engines that your site is explicitly intended for a certain country.” However, if you do choose a ccTLD, you might decrease your chances of having a higher rank around the world. Therefore, if your website is targeting just a specific country, then having a country-code top-level domain might help you stand out to internet users in that particular country.
Should I use a new Top Level Domain (TLD)?
Nowadays, there are TLDs which can help personalize your business, but it is not a good idea for you to brand your business this way. Since the 2010s, businesses have been registering their own trademarked names like .aaa, .aetna, .aol, .chrome, .mcdonalds, and hundreds more. There are even more generic ones like .boutique, .camp, .gallery, .photos, .rentals, .work, and many more.
I don’t recommend that you use a new TLD as so many people use .com already, that is what they are expecting your business to be. You might lose people who can’t remember that you are yummypizza.pizza and not yummypizza.com.
Research from MarketingLand showed that the original TLDs like .com, .net, and others have more than double the awareness among the general public than those who are using a new TLDs. By using a new TLD, you will have to spend more money on branding to make sure people are getting to your site, and not the .com version.
Another reason not to brand yourself with a new TLD is many of these are a source of spammers and malware launchers. Users who are aware of the dangers of TLDs might stay away from your site because they don’t know or trust domains that don't use a more traditional extension such as .com.
You can check out Spamhaus.org, a company that fights spam on the internet, which publishes a list of TLDs that have a bad reputation based on the amount of spam that comes from those domain names. Before picking a non-traditional TLD, make sure to check these sites. Some of the most spammy domains include .live, .buzz, .gq, and .tk.
A domain name can have a positive impact on your business, as long as you are willing to put thought and care into deciding how you want to brand your site. By making sure it is brandable, simple, and available, you are well on your way to having a successful website!
Now that you have a domain name picked out, it is time to choose a web hosting service. Often, you can register your name right with them.