Clients often ask us “What name should I use for my website?” It sounds like an easy question, but there are actually a number of variables to consider before you rush to secure your new domain name with a re-seller. Here are five considerations to take into account when choosing your own URL:
1. Length of the URL
Often, choosing a short name for your URL (website address) is the best way to go, especially if the name is directly linked to who you are or what you do. But having a short name isn’t everything. If the words you chose aren’t memorable, are spelled abnormally, or are awkward contractions of other words, you might be better off using the longer option. For instance, www.thelightingworks.com would be more memorable than www.ltngwrks.com, even though it is longer. But www.lightingworks.com might be even better, since it captures the core name without being hard to remember.
2. What to do when a URL is already taken
Chances are, unless your organization or business is very unique, your first choice for a domain name is already in use by someone else. This is no cause for panic, however, as this problem is often remedied by simply being creative. Adding geographic-specific attributes to your URL like www.palightingworks.com or www.lancasterlighting.com, for example, may be the solution.
3. Stick with .com
Forget any sales pitches you heard for .biz, .info, .co, .us or any other generic, top-level domain. Your primary and preferred address should end in a .com. Think about the last 10 websites you’ve typed into your address bar. Unless you work for the government (.gov) or an educational institution (.edu), chances are the vast majority of the websites you’ve landed on ended in .com. And it’s no coincidence that the term “dot-com” has entered our everyday vocabulary. It’s simply what people know and remember. And it’s almost always the first thing they type when they type the name of a website directly.
4. Review your choices with others
You can often avoid naming issues if you ask for feedback from your friends, associates or even your customers. If you are thinking about choosing a clever URL like www.lights4PA.com, for instance, a phonetic “4” in place of “for” could get confusing for your customers (or worse, send them to a site owned by someone else). Similarly, your combination of words and letters could be read in different ways. For example, www.lightspa.com might seem perfectly obvious, but to someone else, it might look like a company that specializes in a specific type of spa product (in need of a “light spa,” anyone?).
5. Handling multiple domains
Sometimes there are several, good URL options that are available, and you may have purchased several of them to make sure no one else does. While owning multiple domains is not in itself a problem, it is not a good idea to create a presence at each domain (particularly if they are identical). Instead, it is preferable to simply point each domain to a single, primary domain. In our example site, if we registered each of the multiple lighting URLs, we would simply put a forward in place that would route visitors from palights.net, palights.com, etc. to our home base of lightsinpa.com (or whatever primary name you wanted).
Choosing a domain name for your website can be one of the most enjoyable and exciting parts of creating your online presence. But it should also be given the time and attention necessary to make sure the name chosen is free of ambiguity and unintended issues to ensure your URL works for your organization or business, not against it.