Five steps for choosing the perfect business and domain name
Need a name and – just as importantly a website domain name – for your business? Here are five steps to picking the right one.
The right business name can capture the essence of your brand, while a strategic domain name can propel your online visibility. The intersection of these two elements not only encapsulates your digital identity but also plays a critical role in shaping your brand’s perception.
Why is a business and domain name so important?
Before we dive into the mechanics of selecting a winning name, let’s take a moment to understand why it’s such a crucial component in your marketing toolbox.
A business name is more than just a label. It’s an encapsulation of your brand’s identity, values, and aspirations. An effective business name can convey your brand’s personality and its unique selling propositions, making it easier for customers to identify and remember you. In essence, it’s the foundation upon which your branding strategy is built.
Similarly, your domain name serves as your digital address. It’s how your audience finds you online and remembers you amidst the vast ocean of internet content. An effective domain name reflects your business name and complements your SEO strategy, making it easier for your audience to find you through search engines.
Now, let’s consider the quantitative aspect of this equation. According to research from Verisign, over 90% of consumers use search engines to find local goods and services. A keyword-optimized domain name can give you a critical advantage in these searches, potentially boosting your website’s traffic and, in turn, your revenue.
Conversely, a poor business or domain name choice could have detrimental effects. Hard-to-remember names, overly complex spellings, or names that don’t align with your brand values can confuse or disconnect your audience. Similarly, a domain name that’s irrelevant to your business or hard for search engines to index could hinder your digital visibility.
In short, the right business and domain name is a powerful asset, enhancing your brand recall, boosting your SEO, and ultimately propelling your business success.
Step 1: Defining your brand
Defining your brand is a key preliminary step in choosing a business and domain name. This process involves distilling your business’s unique identity and value proposition into clear, concise terms that can then guide your naming strategy. To begin, you’ll need to answer the following questions:
- What are your core values?
- What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
- Who is your target audience?
Understanding your brand’s core values is crucial because your business and domain name should reflect these values. For example, a modern, forward-thinking business name would be appropriate if your brand values innovation and technology. In contrast, a business focused on tradition and heritage might opt for a more classic or timeless name.
Your USP — the element that sets you apart from competitors — should also play a role in your naming strategy. For instance, if your business offers lightning-fast delivery, consider incorporating words that evoke speed or promptness. This tactic makes your name memorable and communicates your USP directly to potential customers.
Finally, understanding your target audience is essential when choosing a business and domain name. Your audience’s demographics, interests, and behavior will heavily influence their perception of your brand. A younger audience might appreciate a trendy, funny name that uses puns and memes, while a more mature or professional audience might prefer a more sophisticated or straightforward name.
Take Apple, for example. The tech giant’s name reflects its core values of innovation and simplicity. The name is not directly linked to technology, but it’s catchy, easy to remember, and distinctive — factors that resonate with their broad and diverse target audience.
Step two: Keyword research and SEO considerations
The intersection of branding and SEO in domain name selection is crucial. Here’s where keyword research, one of the most critical aspects of SEO, comes into play.
Keyword research involves identifying words and phrases that people use in search engines. Including these keywords in your domain name can help improve your website’s visibility on search engines. Tools like Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer can help you identify relevant keywords for your business.
However, stuffing your domain name with keywords without considering your brand can do more harm than good. Search engines today are intelligent enough to recognize and penalize such practices. Instead, aim for a balance: select a domain name that aligns with your brand and subtly incorporates keywords without feeling forced or unnatural.
Let’s consider ‘homes.com,’ a real estate website. The domain name is simple and memorable, and it includes a relevant keyword without sacrificing brand-ability. This approach makes it easier for people looking for homes to find the website through search engines.
Remember, while keywords can boost your SEO, they are only one piece of the puzzle. Your domain name should primarily reflect your brand identity and resonate with your audience. Think of SEO as a bonus, not the driving factor in your decision.
By defining your brand and considering SEO, you can select a business and domain name that represents your business, connects with your audience, and enhances your online visibility.
Step 3: Choosing a name that is simple and memorable
Once you have defined your brand and understand the SEO considerations, the next key strategy to consider is simplicity. A simple, memorable domain name can be a powerful asset. It makes it easier for customers to remember your site, share it with others, and return to it in the future.
When we talk about simplicity, we consider factors such as length, pronunciation, and spellability. A good rule of thumb is to choose a domain name that’s short, easy to pronounce, and easy to spell. These factors not only make it easier for users to remember your site, but also reduce the likelihood of them mistyping or misspelling it.
Additionally, avoid hyphens and numbers in your domain name. They can lead to confusion, are often misheard, and can make your site seem less trustworthy.
For instance, Google, Twitter, and Amazon are examples of simple and memorable domain names. They’re short, easy to spell, and easy to pronounce, which has undoubtedly contributed to their widespread recognition and memorability.
As part of the brainstorming process, you can consider using a domain name generator. They can help you come up with a wide range of potential names and may even suggest available domain names. They’re not the final step in choosing a name but can be a valuable starting point.
Step 4: Checking the availability of your chosen domain name
With a list of potential names in hand, the next step is to check whether your chosen domain name is available. Many cheap domain registration services offer a simple tool to check this.
However, availability isn’t the only consideration here. You also need to make sure that the domain name doesn’t infringe on any trademarks. This is crucial because using a name that’s already trademarked can lead to legal issues down the line.
A helpful resource for this is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark database (for U.S. businesses). It allows you to search for trademarks and ensure you’re not infringing on anyone’s intellectual property.
If your desired domain name is already taken, don’t despair. There are several creative strategies you can use. One option is to add a modifier related to your business or industry, like ‘app’ for a tech company or ‘store’ for a retail business. Alternatively, you can consider using a different domain extension.
Choosing the right business and domain name can be a journey. However, by keeping it simple and memorable, checking availability and trademark issues, you’ll be on your way to a strong digital identity that represents your brand and connects with your audience.
Step 5: Choosing a domain extension
In the context of domain names, the extension, or top-level domain (TLD), is the part of the domain name that follows the dot, like .com, .org, or .net. The .com extension is by far the most widely used and recognized, but there are also numerous other options available, including .info, .biz, .ai, and even extensions specific to certain industries or regions, like .tech or .eu.
When selecting a domain extension, you should consider both SEO and branding implications. From an SEO perspective, a .com domain doesn’t necessarily rank higher than other extensions. Search engines like Google have stated that they treat all domain extensions equally in terms of ranking. However, because .com is the most widely recognized and trusted domain extension, it may indirectly influence your site’s click-through rates and trustworthiness.
From a branding perspective, choosing a .com extension can enhance credibility because of its widespread use and recognition. However, if you operate in a specific industry or region, using a relevant domain extension can make your domain name more memorable and relevant.
In cases where your desired .com domain name is taken, you can consider using other extensions. However, be careful with extensions that might confuse your audience or dilute your brand message. Always ensure your chosen extension aligns with your brand and doesn’t mislead your audience.
Find the perfect business and domain name for you
Picking the right business and domain name isn’t a task to be taken lightly. It’s a critical decision that can shape your brand’s perception, influence your digital visibility, and ultimately impact your business success.
By understanding your brand, considering SEO implications, opting for simplicity and memorability, checking availability and potential trademark issues, and choosing the right domain extension, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision.
Remember to balance SEO benefits with your brand identity as you embark on this journey. Your domain name should primarily reflect your brand and resonate with your audience, with SEO as a bonus rather than the driving factor.
We invite you to explore more about this and other digital marketing topics on the Ahrefs blog. Our tools and resources are designed to help you make the most of your digital marketing efforts. We look forward to accompanying you on your digital marketing journey.