How to Choose a Domain Name

By the end of 2012, the Internet held nearly a quarter of a billion registered domain names, many of which did their owners no particular favors. Choosing the right domain name is a critical part of defining your business online, and just as important as choosing the right host (if not more so). While “TedSmithMotorPartsManufacturing.com” may be an accurate representation of your business and your brand, it’s heavy mental furniture when stacked up against something like “SmithMotors.com”—and you want to keep things light and lively for your potential customers when they’re searching the Web or typing in the address bar.

When it comes to selecting a domain name, striking a balance between these critical elements—simplicity, memorability, relevance—is the key to catching the elusive lightning of success in your online bottle. At its core, a successful domain name includes a clear mention of your brand (essential for good SEO and avoiding customer confusion), creative composition (the better to wedge itself in customers’ brains), and compact construction (to make sure it stays wedged long enough for them to visit your site). If you miss some or all of these components, you might just find yourself with a website that gets a lot of hits, but for all the wrong reasons.

If you think you’ve got a winner, make sure it’s available for purchase (either unregistered or available from a previous buyer) and that your desired name is also available on popular social media sites before you print up those business cards. A love of consistency may be “the hobgoblin of small minds,” but it’s an essential part of building a strong brand that resonates with the public.

And given that fewer than ten percent of domain names are “premium” enough to resonate with the masses, a quick run through the Rosener equation might not be a bad idea, either.

When you are ready to buy, you have a variety of options, including independent registrars, but many hosting providers will also be happy to help you with registration. Be sure to take the time to investigate all your options.

Choosing the right domain name doesn’t have to be a hit-or-miss proposition. By keeping your domain name clean, creative and compact, you’ll be well on your way to making your website—and your brand—a force to be reckoned with.

Choose the right domain name for your business in nine easy steps.

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