Rule 1 – Write it down.
Many years ago we were choosing good names for a new teacher’s newsletter. We came up with “schools express”, everyone liked it and I went and bought the domain name without writing it down on a bit of paper first.
Big mistake! www.schoolsexpress.co.uk could as easily be interpreted as ‘school sex press’ which is not a good domain name if you are trying to create a grown up, sensible brand.
Domain names are your website’s first contact with the customer, so keeping them short, on-topic and memorable are the three graces of domain name choice.
Of course it is never easy to find a domain that fills all three criterea so order the three according to what you percieve as important to your firm and go from there.
Brand Names or Generic Domains?
If you own ‘widgets.com’ and you sell widgets, then you are pretty much set for success. Many startups try to get these ‘generic’ domains as lots of people simply type a keyword folloed by dot com into the browser’s url bar when they want something in a hurry.
However, if you then want to expand into other products you will find a missmatch between your brand and offer, which is a big marketing error.
If you already have a strong brand you really should get the domain that matches it as closely as possible. Nike for example, own Nike.com and would not settle for www.nike-trainers.com (although I suspect the own that too!).
Then of course, it is a fair bet that some other genius has got there first and already registered your chosen name. Hyphenated versions are sometimes a good alternative, but other times you might consider contacting the owner and making an offer on the domain name you want. Be prepared to spend a good stretch of time looking for the right domain. However, this is time well spent because the rewards of a good domain name will be worth it in the end. Your customers will find you with ease and they will return more frequently (because your site name will spring to mind readily).
The form below will check availability of domain names. It is service provided by 1and1.co.uk and should help you find the right one.
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