A domain name is the face of your online business. It’s what people will remember you by.
If you choose the wrong domain name, it can be difficult to change and re-brand your business. Putting in a lot of thought and research before you make the decision will help to cut away any doubt you may have.
In this article, I cover the seven most common domain name mistakes that will make you look dumb. By committing any of these domain name mistakes you will make your brand and site less memorable. And now, we don’t want that, especially in a world where we’re battling for attention, and every letter counts.
Take some time to dive into the list below and save yourself the pain and embarrassment.
1. Having too many characters in your domain name
There is such a thing as having too long of a domain name. When your domain name has an inordinate amount of characters, it will be that much harder for your current and new customers to remember it. I’m sure you’ve had a time in your life when you sat with your browser window open, struggling to try and remember a domain name.
You don’t want this to be your customers.
The simpler your domain name, the easier it will stay in your customer’s head. The last thing you’d want to happen is a potential client to give up on finding your services, simply because they couldn’t remember the correct number of letters to get to your site.
When in doubt go the shorter route. For instance, the domain name ‘thebestpersonaldefenselawyerinthelosangelesarea.com’ is too long, you wouldn’t expect anyone to remember that. It would be more effective to have the domain “curtislaw.com” or “lalawyer.com”. Of course, a lot of the shorter domain names will be taken, so use some creativity when trying to find the perfect domain name.
2. Having a business name that differs from your domain name
Having a conflict between your domain and business name can be incredibly confusing for a visitor that lands on your website. You want everything to be as cohesive as possible. That means your branding, your content and your message should all support each other. You wouldn’t want them to click the back button, because of the domain name confusion.
When brainstorming a domain name make sure you do a domain search to check its availability, before moving forward. This will save you a lot of hassle later on.
Lastly, it can be very tempting to keyword stuff your domain name. Although, it won’t hurt to add more than one, make sure not to add so many keywords that it detracts from your brand.
3. Using the wrong type of domain extension for your business’s needs
When choosing a domain extension, for example .net, .com, and .org. it might make sense to move forward with your second or third choice extension if the .com isn’t available. The domain extension you choose can either help or detract from the authority of your business.
The .net extension is continuing to gain more acceptance within the business world, however the .com still conveys the most authority. However, if you’re running a non-profit organization then a .org might be your best option. Whatever extension you end up choosing, just be aware of what it communicates about your business.
4. Using words that are difficult to remember
You don’t want to choose a domain name that has words that are difficult to remember or spell. This goes hand-in-hand with choosing a domain name that is too long. It simply increases the likelihood that someone won’t be able to remember your domain name, and thus you’ll lose out on a potential customer or valuable website traffic.
For instance, if you use words that have silent letters you’ll risk a visitor not knowing whether to include the letter or not. You’ll also want to make sure you don’t use commonly misspelled words in your domain. If people are likely to misspell the word in their daily lives, there’s a good chance they’ll spell the word wrong when entering your domain as well.
Whenever you can, try to keep the words as simple, powerful, and descriptive as possible.
5. Choosing a name that resembles a competitor
You don’t want to launch your website and have traffic and new visitors coming by your website, only because they think that you are your competitor. Or even worse, having people trying to access your site, but instead visiting a competitor’s because the names are so similar.
There are a few ways to avoid this. For starters, do your research and google any related variations of your domain name and see if any competitors come up. If they do, you might want to consider changing your domain name.
When researching your competition for name similarities, make sure you look into any trademark restrictions as well. If you happen to infringe upon a trademark you could run into a whole host of issues, including having to change your domain name, which could be an even larger problem if your business has the same name.
In this case, you can never do too much research. It’s better to be overly certain than a little bit unsure.
6. Committing certain aesthetic fallacies
There are a few aesthetic no-no’s that top the list for what you want to watch out for when picking your domain. These mostly involve subtle changes that will make it difficult to remember or spell your domain name. For instance, having two consonants or vowels back-to-back can result in a lot of misspellings, as people might not remember to include both letters.
Another thing to watch out for is including too many trendy words. For example, you might think it’s cool to add a “z” to your domain name instead of an “s”, or use the lower-case “i” before your business name, reminiscent of Apple.
Changing common words into more trendy versions might seem like a smart move to make now. However, it might not make much sense a few years into the future. The last thing you want is to have to re-brand your site in a few years, because you didn’t have the foresight at the time.
Lastly, make sure not to include any hyphens if possible. A lot of times hyphens get left out when typing a URL in the address bar. When in doubt choose a name that has less stylistic elements. You want a domain that will stand the test of time.
7. Forgetting to look into any alternative or foreign meanings
Sometimes the words you choose will have an alternative meaning that you’re unaware of, or even have a meaning in a foreign language that’s entirely different from what you intended. Take your time to research every possible meaning of the words you’re choosing. You wouldn’t want to isolate or offend a portion of your customer base, simply out of ignorance.
A few Google searches will clear up any confusion that you may have surrounding the words you’ve chosen, for the future of your website.
Over to you
I hope this article has been helpful to you as you try to find your new domain name. Just make sure to avoid the domain name mistakes above, and you’ll be well on your way towards choosing a great domain name for your business. A powerful domain name can be a great marketing tool, and it’s well worth dedicating the time to ensure that your domain is as memorable as your business.
What other domain mistakes have you seen? Please let us know in the comments below.
P.S. Looking for some useful domain tools? Check out this article “8 Domain Tools You Can’t Live Without”.
Flickr photo: Leo Reynolds