You should always think long and hard before you choose a domain name because this is perhaps the ONLY thing that you cannot change about your business. So here are a few tips to help you make an effective choice.
Tip 1 – Choose between a searchable domain name and a brand-able one
This is the first question you should answer. A searchable domain name banks on traffic from search engines, therefore it is keyword intensive. e.g. http://www.walldecorphotos.com. On the other hand, a brand-able one relies on word of mouth and advertising to bring traffic. Flickr, Google, Yahoo etc. are all brands and not keywords. But which one is right for you? Find answers to these questions.
1. How big is the target market?
Let’s assume you’re addressing a niche market. Well, in this case, a brand-able domain name is not really an option. You’ll really have to dive deep to reach your customers which could be challenging without the help of the search engine.
2. What is your marketing plan?
A brand-able name requires more capital, so this is a viable option for you only if you can afford to invest large amounts of money in online advertising.
3. Who are your customers?
If your customers are easy to find online or on social media, then you do have a window to build a brand-able domain name else stick to the keyword approach.
You need to be careful not to become too creative with the brand-able domain name or too scientific with the searchable one. The best way could be to follow a middle path. You can try a combination of words with a keyword in them. This is what I did with PoorWall.com. “Wall” is a very important keyword for my business, so I combined it with another word which was rather unusual. Making your domain name memorable is your responsibility and you should invest a lot of time in it.
Tip 2 – Select the right formula for your domain name
1. Look for .com or .org top level domains (TLDs)
Now, how do you know whether a domain name will be successful or not? You don’t actually. But one thing is sure: your new business ideas will have a better chance at success if your url ends in .com. However, a lot of websites have started to take advantage of the social status of .org by offering a free version of their product/service and then charging money as any other commercial business. The choice is yours.
2. Don’t use hyphens
Yes. Well, it really is as simple as that. Just avoid the use of hyphens in your domain name no matter how much sense you think it brings to your domain name.
3. Keep your domain name short
Anything less than 9 characters is considered short. Just keep this in mind: the shorter your domain name, the easier it will be for people to type it. Of course, “short .com” domain names are pretty difficult to find, so this is your window to be creative. Find words or combine words which are unique and communicate your business.
4. Singular or plural words
Do a traffic check on your chosen keyword. Check its singular and plural form and use it accordingly e.g. the word “wall” has much more search traffic than “walls”. Similarly “photos” may have more traffic than “photo”. Be careful here.
5. Try adding numbers
You can benefit a lot from inserting a number into the domain name, especially if you go for a brand-able one. However, try not to replace words with numbers (e.g. 4 instead of “for”). But it’s a good idea to use numbers which are easy to recall such as 24×7, 123, 360 etc.
Tip 3 – Use tools for your domain search
You might find this whole domain name search demanding or overwhelming when you start up, but don’t worry. There are a lot of tools you can use. You have Dot-o-mator, for example, which works with combinations of prefixes and suffixes, BustAName which uses linguistic data, namely lists of words, and there are many others.
I also found Domometer as a very useful tool to value your domain. I am not sure what algorithm they use, but you can use it to compare different domain names.
The final word is that the domain name is the first thing your potential customers will type in, so make sure that it is appealing, not confusing, and that it communicates your business effectively.