3 Tips to Choosing a Successful Domain Name image Fotolia 62331451 XSChoosing the domain name for your business website can be one of the most exciting aspects of gaining an online presence. It’s the equivalent of giving your online business a home. And what do physical and online real estate have in common? The importance of location, location, location.

So, when it comes to giving your online business a web address, how do you find its ideal location? What are the characteristics of a successful domain name? Here, I will detail three points to consider when deciding upon a domain name.

Domain bias While it’s unclear (and heavily debated: here and here) whether or not keyword-rich domain names carry as heavy of an SEO value as they once had, they do impact the consumers who are searching. The reason is domain bias, or “a user’s propensity to believe that a page is more relevant just because it comes from a particular domain.”

Microsoft did a study on domain biases and after much research, concluded that consumers browsing the Internet were 25% more likely to click a link within search results that was an exact match to their initial search. Therefore, if a consumer searched “professional cosmetics” on Google, they would be more likely to click ProfessionalCosmetics.com than Sephora.com/makeup. Therefore, adding keywords to your domain name could work in your benefit, but for other reasons than SEO.

Making it memorable With there being over 114 million registered .COM domain names, how do you make yours stand out in the crowd? The key is to make it memorable, and here are a few ways of doing so:

Keeping it short – When it comes to choosing domain names, the shorter the better (which is why there are no more four-letter .COM domains available ). This is because there is less for consumers to remember, as well as less room for error when typing in the domain name. Keep this in mind when debating whether or not jamesonandsonscontractingandhomerepairestablishedin1985.com is a good buy. You could opt for another extension to increase your chances in getting a shorter domain name – there are still great four-letter .CO domain names available.

Avoiding tricky spelling – Personalizing your business branding is an exciting task for any new business. From time to time, you’ll see companies that have put a creative spin to an everyday word (Qik instead of Quick).  As enticing as this may be, keep in mind how it would play out in day-to-day conversations. For example, a company specializing in selling reams of paper may come up with the name ‘Paper Plains.’ Imagine the difficulties one may have in telling a person to check out their website, paperplains.com. They’ll most likely land on paperplanes.com, never making it to the intended site.

Removing the hyphens – Similar to tricky spelling, hyphenating your domain name can lead to confusion when consumers manually type in your web address. If you must use a hyphen within your domain name, do not use more than one. Multiple hyphens tend to give red flags for spam.

Make it memorable for the right reasons – Domain names do not include spaces, therefore if you’re not careful, you could end up including unintended messaging within your business branding. Be sure to double check that your potential domain name displays only the name you’d like it to. Otherwise you could end up like the person who registered a domain for the company Experts Exchange – expertsexchange.com.

Choosing the right extension Back in 1985, domain name extensions were limited to .COM, .NET and .ORG. Today, there are over 300 different extensions available. Domain owners everywhere are able to put a more personal and creative spin on their web addresses. So, what are the deciding factors on domain extensions? How do you know which is best suited for your website? Here are a few key details about the three of the most common extensions:

.COMStemming from the word commercial, .COM is the most popular of domain extension and has become the industry standard. There is no limit to the use of .COM domains.

.NETDeriving from the word network, .NET domains are assimilated to businesses involved in the tech industry. Therefore, this may not be the best choice for domains outside of this genre, such as professionalcosmetics.net.

.ORGComing from the word organization, .ORG domains should be reserved for those of non-profits, schools, projects and communities. Although there is no one limiting the use of these extensions, having a commercial business with a .ORG extension will raise red flags or send the wrong message.

Additionally, if you had a local business website, a country code domain extension (such as .CO.UK or .CA) may be a viable option for you. These country codes are beneficial due to the fact that they target specific web traffic, driving more localized clicks to your business website.

Now, if you find yourself in the market for a .COM domain, finding one while keeping it short, avoiding tricky spelling and removing hyphens may run difficult. Using a domain extensions such as .CO can work in your favor. At Yola, we see a lot of successful small businesses choosing these domains for their website in place of a .COM. As of July 2012, there were 1.3 million registered .CO domain names. Compared to the whopping 114 million registered .COM domain names, your odds of finding your ideal web address are substantially greater.

Coming up with the perfect domain for your business website may take some time. As stated, this is the home of your online presence and will play a key role in your business branding. Consider these points while registering your business web address to ensure your business website has its ideal domain name.

Author: Stacey MacDougall    

Stacey MacDougall is a Marketing Associate at Yola.com, with weekly posts on the Yola blog and a passion for getting small businesses online…. View full profile

This article is an original contribution by Stacey MacDougall.

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