Imagine you want to buy a basketball jersey online. Which shop would be more trustworthy: www.basketballjerseys.com or www.buycheapbasketballjerseysonlinenow.biz? As you can see, the domain can have a huge impact on how customers perceive your shop. That is why you should invest some time and thoughts into finding the right domain.
Technical requirements for domain names
There are some technical requirements for domain names, sometimes depending on the top level domain (e.g. “.com” or “.co.uk”).
Some requirements for .com domains are for instance:
- The domain name can have a maximum of 63 characters.
- It can consist of letters from A to Z, numbers and hyphens.
- Blank spaces and special characters like “&” or “$” cannot be used.
- Hyphens cannot be the first or last character of the domain name.
Brand or keyword?
Maybe the most important decision concerning your domain name is if you want to use a brand or keyword domain – or a mix of both.
A brand domain is a domain which uses the brand of your online shop. Examples for this are www.amazon.com or www.walmart.com. If you choose such a domain, your brand is strengthened. This is especially a good idea when it is already well known and popular in your target group – or when you plan to establish a strong brand.
A keyword domain consists of keywords that are relevant for this website. The aforementioned www.basketballjerseys.com would be such a domain. These names are useful in terms of SEO, because a domain name can be relevant for the ranking of a website on Google and other search engines. Another advantage is that your visitors will immediately know what they can buy in your shop.
Unfortunately, the best keyword domains are already taken for .com or .co.uk. But with some creativity it is still possible to find good domain names. You can also consider choosing one of the new top level domains like .shop.
If you are ready to invest some money for your domain, visit portals like www.sedo.com where you can buy used domains.
A mix of keywords and the brand
You can also use one or more keywords additionally to your brand in the domain name.
Simplicity is key
When it comes to your domain name, you should always keep it simple. It has to be easy to remember, easy to pronounce (no tongue twisters!) and it should pass the phone test: Imagine you are mentioning the domain to someone on the phone. Is the other person able to type the domain without errors? Or do you need to spell the URL letter by letter?
What you should avoid in your domain
- The type of business entity: In most cases you should avoid mentioning this in the URL. Most customers do not care about the fact that your company is a Limited for instance.
- Other brands and trademarks: Even if you only sell Nike products in your shop, this does not mean that you are entitled to use this brand name in your domain. If you are not sure if you are allowed to use a certain name, please consult a lawyer.
- Your name: In most cases, your customers are not interested if your family name is Miller or Smith. Exception: Your name is part of the brand name.
Other tips for the perfect domain name
- Being special: Your domain name should be different from those of your competitors.
- Google the name: You should google your domain name without the TLD to find out what your future customers will see when they google your shop. You can also find out how big the competition is for that keyword.
- Search for free accounts: For your social media activities it is useful to look up which related accounts are available at the moment. The tool namecheckr.com helps you with that.
- Numbers: If you are using numbers (especially lower ones) in your domain name, your customers will probably do not know how to write the name correctly: Is it a “1” or “one”?
- Being future-proof: 20 years ago, a domain name like www.basketball2000.com might have sounded futuristic and cool. Now it is just obsolete. So take into account that you may still want to use it in 20 years from now.
- Selling internationally: If you plan to expand your business into foreign markets, you can also register domains in these countries.
- Registering typos and alternative versions: Does your domain name contain a word which is often misspelled? Then you should consider to register alternative spelling variants. Also note that there are some words for which two different spellings are valid. You want to register www.colorshop.com? Then you should also go for www.colourshop.com.
Looking for inspiration in terms of your domain? Then read our article Tools for finding a great domain name.