So you’re starting a new business and you need a website. What should I call my website? What domain extension should I use? .com, .co.uk, or some of the newer ones .ltd or .community. What are the factors to determine my choice?
What is a website name (domain name)?
Firstly let’s define what a website name or domain name is. It’s the name that going to identify your website. It’s what you type in a browser like Google Chrome to bring up a website eg. twitter.com
Its structure is as follows:
The part before the ‘.’ Is called the domain name (twitter in this example) whilst the part after the ‘.’ Is called the domain extension (.com in this example)
Let’s explore some of the important factors which will determine the correct domain name choice. We are going to use a real-life example we had to make for one of my clients ‘Spectrum Power Ltd’:
If branding is important then having this as part of the name is essential. It will add to the memorability of your business. Let’s take our example, Spectrum Power Ltd. There is no need to take the ‘ltd’ part as this is not really part of the branding. This leaves us with:
We will have a look at the domain extension later.
A decision has to be made whether to include what you do (keywords) as part of the domain name. In the case of Spectrum Power, they are energy consultants. Could we include this as part of our domain name? Is there any advantage?
What if we were to use keywords only and no branding?
Not really memorable is it. It doesn’t stand out from the crowd.
It is said that the inclusion of keywords in the domain name will rank a website more highly in searches performed by search engines. This is true, but most search engines nowadays put less emphasis on keywords in the domain name as a matter of strength.
So we could have a combination of both branding and keywords:
Is this too long?
The rule is: make it short as possible. It’s easier for people to remember, pronounce, and type. Moz (a famous SEO company) recommends 15 characters or less. It also should not be too short that it becomes unreadable.
Our example is really long: 30 characters (twice as long as Moz recommends!)
As we have stated because keywords in domain names have only some importance in search engine results we’re opting for:
The choice between including hyphens and not to utilise is hotly debated and thus not entirely agreed upon. There are some obvious cases where you have to include one. the famous one everyone quotes are: expertsexchange.com or experts-exchange.com
In other cases, there is no merit to use them except in readability. Search engines are able to understand the words used within a domain name without a hyphen. Also, it’s often the cases that spammers try to create fake websites by emulating real ones by just changing the domain name with a hyphen. In our case, we have decided for readability:
.com is probably the best way to go if it’s available with your domain name. Why? Because it’s still the most memorable domain extension. What if you reside only in the United Kingdom? Some search engines are sophisticated enough to recognise that you are in the UK when you are doing a search. They are more likely to display a website ending in .co.uk higher than one ending in .eu (Europe). So that would be a good second choice. What about the new domain extensions available? Eg. .ltd, .consulting. This might break up the length and make it much more readable in our case.
So we have the following options:
Note: Right now the new domain extensions have no superiority in search engine ranking than the old ones.
Hopefully, this short article helps you to decide on a great domain name.