“What’s in a (domain) name?” you might ask. Well, the answer is just as you’d expect: those words that come after “www” in the address bar count for quite a lot. In the case of an online business website, the domain name contributes to the business identity in very much the same way that a physical address would for a brick-and-mortar store. It’s what helps customers locate the business, and it’s what affords the business a unique place among other establishments out there.
And in truth, it pays to be thoughtful about your domain name even before you start your own ecommerce business. Once you have a domain name of your own, it’s easier to build your brand with that one address than to keep relocating and rebuilding somewhere else. That said, here are some tips for getting it right on the first try—and how to get the most traction for your business brand out of your chosen domain name.
- Come up with something short and easy to remember. Name recall is a big deal when it comes to choosing a domain name. You will want something that’s easy to spell, easy to type, and easy for your customers to remember after seeing the URL once—that ups your chances of welcoming them back to your site. Web experts also recommend that you steer away from unnecessary numbers, hyphens, or other characters that could make your URL difficult to spell out.
- Show off your brand and what it is you do. Your domain name is also a good opportunity to make your brand more visible and more searchable. One formula that’s withstood the test of time is that of the brand name plus some important keywords relating to the company’s core product or service—for example, a domain name like prestigeautoparts.com for a registered auto parts business called Prestige, or happilyeveraftercakes.com for a wedding cakes supplier called Happily Ever After. In these two cases, the domain name showcases a unique brand identity (“Prestige” and “Happily Ever After”) and incorporates keywords to help in search engine optimization (“auto parts” and “cakes”).
- Localize your URL. Another good strategy is to localize the domain name, especially if your business only services customers within a particular country, state, city, or county. You can do this by choosing a name extension that reflects your home country (for example, “.uk,” “.us,” or “.au”) or the state that you service (“.ak” for Alaska, “.ca” for California, and the like). Doing so will include you in localized searches and bring customers of your target market straight to your virtual storefront.
- Consider using a domain name extension other than .com. The most common domain name extension people can think of is .com, but remember that that isn’t the only option. In fact, you can register for another domain name that better reflects the nature of your business—for example, “.net” for a site related to Internet infrastructure, “.me” for a business closely tied to a personal blog, or “.biz” for an ecommerce site. Not only is this a means of having variety over your domain name, but it is also a chance for your brand to gain additional credibility in its field.
- Do your domain name research and make sure your idea isn’t copyrighted or already in use. One last thing before you register your domain name for good: see if anyone has already beat you to it. A little homework before you make the big decision could save you a lot of grief—this way, you can avoid confusion with competitors, as well as prevent any messy legal battles over copyrighted or trademarked terms.
Suffice to say, domain names could mean everything to a budding business: a competitive advantage, a stronger brand reputation, and easier access to the local clientele. Choose your domain name wisely, and get customers to your storefront in a matter of clicks!