Is Your Web Address Easy To Remember?
Your web address is part of your brand strategy. Make sure it is easy to remember. I once worked for a company called “ZZYZX.” The domain name was www.zzyzx.com. Even though it is a short name, it is a terrible name, because nobody knew how to spell it or pronounce it. You want your customers to be able to remember and refer your brand to others, so make it as easy for them as you can. Your domain name should be a compliment to your business, not an obstacle.
Domain names can be of any length up to 63 characters, but I don’t know why anyone would want a domain name 63 characters long. Your domain name can include 26 letters of the English alphabet, numbers 0-9, and hyphens (-). The domain name cannot begin or end with a hyphen, but it can contain one or more hyphens. Don’t settle for a short domain name that doesn’t complement your business just to avoid a longer one. Generally, shorter domain names are easier to remember, easier to type, and are far less susceptible to mistakes. For example, “hello.com” is easier to remember and less prone to typos than “saygoodmorninginthemorningandgoodeveningintheevening.com”.
Others argue that a longer domain name is usually easier on people because it is easier to attach a meaning to it. A short but cryptic name such as zzyzx.com is not at all a better name than a longer meaningful domain name such as raidsforless.com.
Due to the explosive demand for domain names, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get short, meaningful web addresses. Chances are you are going to have to make some compromises when registering your domain name. Or, you might have to buy a second-hand domain name. If you manage to get a short domain name that is meaningful, easy to remember, sounds good, and simple to spell, consider yourself lucky.
An additional advantage of longer domain names is that there is more room for your keywords. Long domain names that contain your relevant keywords have an advantage in that they fare better in a number of search engines – although, today this advantage is diminished compared to the early days of online business.
My general rule for hyphenated domain names is to avoid them like the plague. It’s easy to forget the hyphens when typing a name. Many users are used to typing things like partyandweddingfavors.com but not party-and-wedding-favors.com. Chances are, people typing in your domain name will leave out the hyphens, giving their business to your competitor.
When people refer your site to others verbally, having hyphens in your domain name leads to more potential errors than when the name does not contain hyphens. For example, how do you think your visitors would refer to your site if it were named “party-and-wedding-favors.com”? They might say, “I visited Party and Wedding Favors dot com yesterday. It is such a great site, you should check it out.” The referred person, remembering that comment later might type into their browsers “partyandweddingfavors.com.” Oops! Hyphenated domain names are difficult to type. Who wants to insert a hyphen between each word just to get the proper domain name? It is simply too much work.
The only time it might make sense to register a hyphenated version of your domain is if you already own the domain without the hyphen. Think of it as a defensive play. It only costs a few bucks to register the domain and you can prevent a competitor from registering it instead of you.
Numbers and Domains
Avoid numbers in your domain name unless they are part of your business name. If your business is called “1-hour Photo”, it is perfectly normal to have the number one in your domain name. If you must register a domain with a number, register the domain with the number and the number spelled out to protect yourself. In the case of “1-hour Photo” also register it as “one-hour Photo”. In case you had to have the chocolate.com domain name, but it was no longer available, please don’t register chocolate847.com. Unless you have a great reason to have a number in your domain name, avoid it.
Buying A Domain Name That Has Already Been Registered
Whenever the domain you desire is not available through the registrar, you can try purchasing it from the registered owner. Unfortunately, some people register domain names to take advantage of others. In other situations, someone might have a good reason to own your desired domain name. It is unlikely that you’ll be able to buy the domain name from a thriving business. There is a chance that you will be able to buy a second-hand domain if someone registered it but never used it.
Here are some signs that there is a chance you can buy a second-hand domain name:
- Looks like the site is abandoned.
- The site is very outdated with an amateurish or home-made design.
- There is a for sale sign on the site. – It is going to be expensive.
- The domain is very close to being expired and it still hasn’t been renewed.
The general rule buying a second-hand domain is the more they know you want the domain the more they make you pay for it.
Here is how to buy a second-hand domain name the smart way:
- Contact the owner from an email address unrelated to your business. It is the best to use a freshly registered Gmail or yahoo email account.
- Don’t disclose that you want to buy the domain for a business. Tell the owner that it is a hobby or a school project. If you say that you want it for a business, the price will go up really fast.
- Never make an offer. Let the current registered owner name his price.
- Stay cool. Don’t act super excited about the prospect of owning the domain. The more they know you want it the more they will increase the price.
- Always use an escrow service to keep both sides honest. There are reputable escrow companies that will guide you through the buying process while minimizing your risks. It is worth spending a little bit of money on an escrow service to protect yourself.
- Don’t fall in love with it. Just like you got over your first love you will get over this domain name and find another one just as great. There are more great domains out there than you’ll ever need.
The Dangers of Buying a Second-Hand Domain
A second-hand domain at the right price could be a great find, but it’s not without danger. The previous owner might have tainted your domain by associating it with a less than reputable business. When you buy a second-hand domain you are also buying the reputation of the domain.
Here are some steps to take before you buy a second-hand domain:
- Check for negative reviews. There might be negative reviews about the domain on reputable review sites. If you find “thedomainyoubought.com” has horrible customer support, you might want to pass on the domain. Or, be prepared to address the issue as soon as you own it. Important! You can also use negative reviews to drive the price down during the negotiation phase.
- Check for incoming links. It’s bad news if there are bad neighborhood sites linking to your domain or you linking to them.
- The previous site on your domain might have had malware. Malware might have caused Google to ban the domain and deindex it from the search results.
- Consider the cost and time it will take to rebuild the reputation of the domain.
Before you make a decision on a domain name for your business consider the following:
- Is it short? The shorter your domain name the better. Although there is no set rule, I like domain names to be under 15 characters.
- Is it easy to remember? If you choose a domain name that’s difficult to remember it will hurt your business.
- Is it easy to spell? Exclude words that are frequently misspelled.
- Is it easy to pronounce? Exclude words that are difficult to pronounce.
- Is it brandable? Brandable domains are easy to pronounce and remember.
- Is your geo-target included? If you are only serving a specific geography, try to include it in your domain such as sandiegowebdesigner or carlsbadmarketingcompany.
- Is it a .com domain? At least in the USA, the .com domain is still the best option. There are many other top-level domains to choose from, but I still prefer .com domains for businesses.
- Is it descriptive? If you can select a domain name that is descriptive, you are giving yourself a big advantage.
- Avoid hyphens and numbers. Hyphens and numbers both create confusion. For example, 15statemarketing could be easily confused with fifteenstatemarketing. Now, if you stick a hyphen in there you are confusing people even more.
- Ignore the latest trends. Trends come and go, but you want to build a business that lasts.
- Can you protect it? If you want to build a brand, you are going to have to trademark your domain. Before you decide on your domain make sure it is not a registered trademark already.
photo credit: Www – World Wide Web – Symbol – coloured