Choosing The Right Domain Name For Your Site

  • April 22, 2014
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Deciding on a domain name for a business or personal website can be a pain. Your ideal domain name might not be available, or you may be torn to choose between a .com, .co.uk or .net. For someone who is not so experienced with the online world it can be quite daunting to get started, considering all the different extensions and variations you can have. With that in mind, we’ve written this post to shed some light on the subject and help you choose the right domain for your business.

Dot Com?

‘Top Level Domains (or TLD for short) is the name given to the extensions you see at the end of domain names. Common examples include .com, .net, .gov .org and .co.uk (although there are hundreds).
Some of these are reserved exclusively for certain types of organisations or for people in certain regions, others can be registered and used by anyone.

Which Is Best?

Generally speaking, .com is the most trusted and most sought after top level domain. Country level domains (like .co.uk, .us and .au) are also great, especially if you run a business that operates locally.
.net has been used successfully, and is more suited to websites that are exclusively online businesses or magazines. .org is another trusted top level domain but is mostly used by non-profit organisations. That’s not to say you can’t use it for another purpose but be careful that you don’t confuse visitors about the nature of your site.
Some websites have used other TLDs to say something about their brand or to stand out, some examples would be last.fm (using fm to suggest the musical nature of the site) and monopo.ly (creating a memorable domain using the lesser known ‘.ly’ TLD.
Be careful if you go with the above approach. It can work but there is evidence to suggest that Google will not trust domains that use more obscure domains as much. In my opinion it is often better to play it safe and go with a tried and tested .com if possible.

All one word

If you’ve ever asked for someone’s email or website address, chances are you’ve heard the phrase ‘all one word’. It’s one of those funny sentences that would have made no sense twenty years ago.
The reason for this is that when it comes to domain names, people sometimes use hyphens to separate words. You may be tempted to do this if you have a business with a two word name, or even if you don’t.My advice here is to not use hyphens if you can avoid it. They look messy, and people are used to the more common practice of omitting them these days.

Summary

Use an appropriate TLD. .com is the best option more often than not. After that go for a country relevant and specific TLD such as .co.uk or .ca. Keep your domain name short, www.sallyscakes.co.uk is more memorable and neater than www.sallyscakesbirmingham.com. Avoid hyphens and other non-letter characters.
Explore all the options available to you, don’t just jump right in and go with the first available domain. It is really worth spending a little extra time and getting one that you’re totally happy with.
Did you know that you can can have your very own custom domain name with your SiteZulu website?  It adds a more personal and professional touch to your website without costing the earth.

Gareth Jones
Technical Guy at SiteZulu