I recently consulted someone who is about to startup her own business in the luxury apparels space. Like any other entrepreneur, she is not only passionate about the idea, but have also researched and zeroed in on a brand name for her company. However, she is facing some challenges with the domain name for her brand. And therefore she wanted to consult me on the same.
I have seen lot of questions been posted on forums such as Quora and Facebook about domain name extensions and which one to choose. Therefore, I am writing this short post to help entrepreneurs choose the right domain extensions for their business.
Now, let us take the example of this entrepreneur who I introduced above. She plans to target global audience. However, she found out that .com domain is unavailable. So, she is wondering whether she should go for a .in domain.
Here are the things you should consider while choosing a domain name:
1. Easy to read and write. The domain name should be easy to read, write as well as pronounce. This is because, if you choose a complicated name, users might find it difficult to remember and they may not key in the correct web address.
2. Keep the length short. You should keep the domain name short for 2 reasons:
2.1 Easy to remember for humans
2.2 When your root domain name is lengthy, imagine what happens when someone clicks on a URL inside your domain. It will be extremely long.
3. Do not use hyphens in the domain name. You should never use hyphens in domain names for 2 reasons:
3.1 They look spammy. Imagine a domain that says www.best-seo-company-in-india.com. Does it look trustworthy to you?
3.2 Difficult for your users to remember. Let say, your friend referred a website to you on phone. The first thing you will do is key in the website name as a single word. You will never even think once, if it has a hyphen or not. So, if your website has a hyphen, you might end up losing that customer.
3.3 Keep hyphens to max 1. In scenarios, where you have no other option but to use a hyphen, keep it to only 1 hyphen.
4. Select a brandable domain. When you Google "SEO Services Bangalore", you will see our website RankHigher.in in Rank 2. Rank 1 is a website whose domain is www.seoservicesbangalore.in. Now think for a moment, can you ever become a brand with a name like that? If tomorrow, you become a successful company (which should be your goal anyway), how do you want people to know your company? As a branded name or a name that says "SEO Services Bangalore"? Make a smart choice.
5. Choose the right extension. You should be very careful which extension to choose for your domain. Speaking of the entrepreneur earlier, she informed me that she plans to target global audience. However, .com is unavailable, what are the other choices?
5.1 Global Top Level Domain (TLDs) - ICANN has named few domain extensions as global TLDs. The most popular ones are .com, .net and .org. Of the recent ones, .co is a popular global TLD. Recently, new niche specific TLDs have opened up, such as .travel, .io, .academy etc. However, niche specific TLDs are in their early days. I would recommend selecting TLDs based on the following order
I specifically do not recommend .net and .org because these extensions do not necessarily go well with commercial ventures. .net typically goes will with a computer networking company or a company that deals with programming languages, technology infrastructure etc. .org, although used commercial ventures, are typically associated with non commercial ventures and NGOs
5.2 Do not go for a country level TLD if you plan to have a Global business. If you plan to create a business with customers all across the globe, the last thing you want is a domain with an extension as .in, or .co.uk. Your websites will not rank high for searches in other countries. As a result you will miss out on a lot of traffic. Besides, people in other countries will never relate to a TLD of another country.
5.3 Do not obsess over the name. In the movie "Jobs", in the scene where Jobs and Wozniack are travelling to Stanford to present their PC, they were deciding what should be the name of the company. Jobs said, Apple. He says, it is simple and easy to remember and is part of people's lives, just as what their PC is supposed to be. He even said, if there is any issue, they can change it later. This should be the guiding light for any new business. Do not stress on a brand name. You can always rebrand it, should it become a big business one day.
So what if you cannot find a Global TLD for a name which you have selected? The answer is simple, change your brand name.
To sign off on a lighter note, here is a humorous advert on domain names: