Choosing a Good Domain Name

A domain name is like a seedling sprouting under a bridge
Think of your domain name as a seedling out of which grows your entire online presence.

Building a strong web presence for your small business begins with selecting a good domain name. Even the most established business owner should think carefully when purchasing digital “real estate.” The domain name is the first impression your customers get of your business when they find you online. Choosing it should be one of the most carefully-researched pieces of your web strategy.

The domain name of a website, commonly referred to as the URL, can be the difference between whether or not a potential customer clicks your link in a Google search result. In fact, the domain itself can even help determine the placement your website receives within those search results due to its role in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which I’ll discuss in future posts.

Don’t make the mistake of picking the first domain that comes to mind. It can be a costly mistake that is very hard to undo as time goes on and your website matures. The tricky part is many of the best domain names have already been purchased, which means you might need to get a little creative when selecting one for your business. This is why some people end up with a prohibitively long domain full of dashes that none of your customers can remember. Don’t be that person.

With some careful planning, you can find a domain that fits your business and that you are proud to share with your customers.

What Makes a Good Domain Name?

When considering a domain name for your small business, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Exact Match When Possible – If possible, pick a domain that matches exactly the keywords you would like to show up for in Google searches. Don’t force it, but if you run a body shop, it would be nice to have a domain like bobsbodyshop.com.
  2. Describe or Name the Business and/or Region – Try to get a domain that tells what you do or who you are. If you know the business will always be local, you can include a reference to your area. Take for example lexingtonfoodtrucks.com. It both describes the business and the region in which it operates.
  3. No More than Three Words – Avoid choosing a domain that’s so long no one can remember it.
  4. No Hyphens or Other Characters – When your first choice is gone, it’s tempting to throw a hyphen or two in to keep the basic idea. The problem is this looks clunky and might even penalize you in search results.
  5. Readable and Speakable – Write down your possible domain names on a piece of paper with no spaces (as they will appear in the browser window). Ask a friend to read them. You might be surprised how they misinterpret it. If you run a photography business for teeball and little leaguers named Precious Hits, it might not read so innocently in a url. Also keep in mind that you will be telling people about your website. You don’t want to have to spell it out every time.
  6. Scalable – Finally, think to the future when you pick your new domain name. Do you plan to grow the business beyond your current city? Then be sure to choose a domain that can grow with the business. The Lexington Food Trucks domain would be a bad choice for a business that intended to spread to Louisville and Cincinnati.

Domain Name Resources

As you begin planning your new domain purchase, here are a few resources that might be helpful during the research stages.

  • Domainr.com – This website lets you quickly search all domains that are similar to the one you chose, and it tells which are available and which are taken. It can be really helpful if your first choice is gone.
  • Flippa.com and Sedo.com – These two websites are online auction places for domain names and websites. Be prepared to pay a premium here, but you might just find a really good deal on the perfect name.
  • Whois.com – Curious who owns the domain you want? Look them up on Whois.com. Here you can find contact information for the registered owner of every domain name.

Closing Thoughts on Domain Names

One last thing I’ll mention about choosing your domain name is the option to select Registrant Privacy. When you make your purchase, you will be given the option to add privacy for a fee. This keeps your name and contact info from showing up in Whois.

It’s up to you to decide whether the privacy is worth the fee. Often your decision will be determined by the nature of your business.

There are tons of domain brokers out there. GoDaddy.com is probably the best known, but shop around and see if you can find a better deal once you settle on your choice. Picking a domain name for your business is one of the most important decisions you will make regarding your digital presence. Think carefully and choose wisely.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions about the process. I’ve been working with Kentucky small businesses for over 7 years, and I really enjoy helping.

I also offer classes to Kentucky small business owners, if you’d like to gain even deeper knowledge on any subjects I cover here.

Thanks and good luck!

Josh Boldt
Creative Director,
BlueGood Design, LLC
Lexington, KY