Selecting a Domain Name

Published January 09, 2012 By
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Website Redesign   

If your project is a website redesign then ask yourself if you should be keeping the same domain name or not. The answer to this is yes more often than not, but still ask yourself the question. A 301 redirect can be set up so any traffic going to the old domain is redirected to your new site. You may take a temporary hit in your search engine rankings but in the long run it could be worth it. To make the decision to either keep your presant domain name or select a new one, keep reading.

New Website   

A domain name is an important part of your branding. Your goal is to select something that is easy to say and easy to remember.

All of my clients have been in the USA so I'm going to make the assumption that you are too, in which case you are ideally looking for a .com URL. If you're a nonprofit, a .org would be best. Consider adding or using one of the following in your domain name:

  • business name
  • tagline or other branding terms you've already established
  • industry
  • important key word or phrase
  • geographic location

If you've already got an established business, then selecting a domain name should be relatively easy. Hop on over to GoDaddy and see if mybusinessname.com is available. If so you're good to go! If not, well then it's time to get creative and make a list of possibilities and then assess the pros and cons of each.

Resist the urge to use hyphens like mybusiness-name.com. Search engines don't care about hyphens in domain names, but people do. A hyphenated domain name isn't intuitive for people to use, remember or say. Telling your new acquaintance to visit your incredible website at my business dash name dot com will get old fast and people won't remember the dash or where it went within the URL. In the end it'll create confusion and hurt your user experience, page views, SEO, and branding.

Now that I've gone through that rant, let me point out that I did say "resist" not "don't" After you've made your list of possibilities you will still need to assess the pros and cons of each domain name. There are circumstances where using the hyphen will be the right choice.

A great example of this is experts-exchange.com, a fantastic resource for getting technology questions answered. Without the dash people could interpret it to say expert sex change dot com. Definately not the impression they want to make!

You should also research and consider whether or not a common or easily misspelled version of your chosen domain name leads to an undesirable site. You don't want to confuse, increase potential for error, or give the wrong impression to your website visitors.

Once you've got a list of possible domain names that are available for purchase we'll review them together and discuss the pros and cons of each. When you do make your purchase you should plan on paying for at least 5 years. This is because many illegitimate domains rarely last more than a year so the fact that a domain is paid several years in advance can lend legitimacy to it. This is not a make or break requirement, just one more ingredient in the quest for SEO.

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