When you start a new business, launch a blog, build a new website or extend your business into new markets, you almost always need to buy a new domain name to support your efforts. In fact, the right domain name has gone from being a nice-to-have, to an essential ingredient that can impact the success or failure of your marketing efforts.
Over the years we have witnessed many easy-to-avoid mistakes when it comes to selecting domain names. Some of these may be obvious, and others not so much. In either case, you can learn from these mistakes so that the name you choose for your domain is a successful one.
1. Picking a domain name that is already taken – or not buying it fast enough
This might seem like a no brainer, but I have seen many businesses come up with a catchy domain name, print it on their business cards, and write it on their grand opening t-shirts only to fail to check if they can even buy the name.
Checking domain availability (use this easy domain search tool) should be the next step in your process after you start brainstorming names. Don’t risk losing out on the perfect name because you procrastinated.
2. Picking a domain name that is not a .com
You can get domain names with hundreds of extensions (.biz, .org. .cc, .pro, .me, .tv). While these may have creative appeal, potential visitors and customers for most businesses have been “programmed” – after years of typing .com – to automatically assume that every domain name has .com at the end.
Don’t make life hard for potential customers or lose out on traffic because your site is not a .com. Also, if another company owns the .com version of your domain name, you can expect many of your new and existing customers to end up visiting their website first.
3. Really difficult to spell
Don’t pick a domain name that requires a spell check to get it right. This is usually caused by complex words, uncommon words or unusual spellings. Words with “ie” or “ei” in them often get misspelled so proceed with caution… also make sure to buy the domains of the most common misspellings.
The longer your domain name, the more likely a person is to forget the address or to make a mistake when typing it in (see #3). In addition, when your domain name is too long it’s hard to print on business cards, sides of trucks, etc.
5. Really difficult to remember
Building on #3 and #4, picking a domain name that’s hard to remember is like not picking a domain name at all.
If you want to grow your business by word of mouth marketing, it’s important for your website’s domain to be easily remembered. You know those great TV commercials that you can never remember what they’re for? Don’t choose the domain name equivalent for your business.
6. Sounds like another business
Nothing is worse than launching your new website, immediately having the phone start to ring, email inquiries start to pour in, and website traffic start to pick up, only to find out all this activity is because people think you are another business with a similar name.
7. Using hyphens or numbers
Your domain needs to be one word or one set of words. No hyphens and no numbers. It’s hard to verbally communicate a domain name that has a space or a number. When someone hears one of these domains it’s hard to know if a hyphen is required and if the numbers are written out as words or are numeric.
Stick to A-Z and leave other characters alone, no matter how tempting.
8. Being super trendy
If every new website is using certain words, phrases, characters or misspellings – chances are it’s a bad idea. I don’t know how many times I had to tell my mom that my pictures were on Flickr (until Flickr finally purchased flicker.com).
Your trendy domain name might sound cool today…. but chances are it won’t sound so great in a few years. And, in the meantime, it will confuse everyone who hasn’t yet heard about today’s tricky domain naming trend.
Avoid these eight domain name pitfalls and you’ll set your new business up for online marketing success!