For 90% of the projects we take on, a domain is already part of the equation. However, sometimes we get called on to help find a domain name. Below, I've listed 7 golden rules that I find indispensable to select a great domain name.
1. Brainstorm 5 Top Keywords
When you first start to search for a domain name, it helps to have 5 terms or phrases in mind. Obvious categories may be keywords for:
- Top searched phrases
- The type of parts you will be selling e.g., Mopar
Google recently made an update to the industry favored Google keyword and replaced it with keyword planner. Keyword planner is still a great tool for running some analysis on keyword phrases which we will discuss in greater detail in a future post.
2. Only Choose Dot-Com Available Domains
One misconception here is that Google prefers a dot-com over a dot-net or dot-biz; they actually carry the same weight. However, if you’re at all concerned about type-in traffic, and brand recognition over the long-term, it pays to purchase a dot-com.
With the exception of the tech-savvy, most people automatically associate brand names with a dot-com. For instance, if I was to tell a customer our company name (Revolution Parts) and nothing else, 7 out of 10 people will type “revolutionparts.com” directly into the search bar. The other 3 may type it into Google or the Chrome Bar. If we had the .biz or .net, it definitely leaves the door wide open for a competitor to out rank you for your own brand name! The last thing you want is to lose traffic to your competitor or some affiliate with the same name.
Avoid this altogether and purchase the dot-com, dot-net, dot-biz, dot-org all at once. You can always use the dot-com as your main parts website and redirect the other domains to the dot-com.
3. Make it Easy to Type
If a domain name requires considerable attention to type correctly, due to spelling, length or the use of un-memorable words or sounds, you've lost a good portion of your branding and marketing value.
4. Make it Easy to Remember
Remember that word-of-mouth and monopolizing the search results (where your domain consistently comes up for industry-related searches) both rely on the ease with which the domain can be called to mind. You don't want to be the parts dealer with the terrific website that no one can ever remember to tell their friends about because they can't remember the domain name.
5. Keep the Name as Short as Possible
Short names are easy to type and easy to remember (the previous two rules). They also allow for more characters in the URL in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and a better fit on business cards and other offline media.
6. Create and Fulfill Expectations
When someone hears about your domain name for the first time, they should be able to instantly know what type of auto parts and accessories you sell. That's why I love domain names like Hotmail.com, CareerBuilder.com, AutoTrader.com and WebMD.com. Domains like Monster.com, Amazon.com and Zillow.com (whom I usually praise) required far more branding because of their un-intuitive names.
7. Reject Hyphens and Numbers
Both hyphens and numbers make it hard to give your domain name verbally and falls down on being easy to remember or type. I'd suggest not using spelled-out or Roman numerals in domains, as both can be confusing and mistaken for the other.