“What’s Your Domain Name?”

That question today is as commonplace as someone asking, “What’s your name?” This is hardly surprising, as the Internet has become the official real estate from where entrepreneurs, startups, and technology specialists run their businesses. Simply put, a domain name is the address that characterises a business in the virtual world.

Having said that, here’s a logical question: How easy is it to get a credible, brand-value-pumping domain name? The answer is not hard to guess. If one were to add up all the words of all the languages in the world, the count stops at less than 10 million. But in the last quarter of 2019 alone, there were 16 million domain names registered.

While the Internet junkie would raise a toast to this, the businesses that are looking for new domain names aren’t going to experience the same cup of cheer. Reason: As statistics point out, words are in short supply. Hence new clutter-breaking domain names need to be invented. And it has to tell the story of a brand in the shortest possible way.

Now, all this is easier said than done. The moment you nosedive into the task of choosing a domain name, there are various dynamics to keep in mind. Here are 10 pointers that can clear the fog, as you make the all-important decision for your brand.

1) Go for a prominent TLD

TLD is short for Top Level Domain. It occupies the right side of the domain and stands top most in stature, in the domain hierarchy. Dot Com (.com) is the most popular TLD. In fact, until this day, it is still the only TLD known to many (excluding the tech-savvy ones). That being the case, the .com extension is invariably taken, even as people try various permutations and combinations to register their domain names. Other extensions like .biz and .net fail to have the same aura.

2) Keep it short

Short domain names work better. It is easy for consumers to remember. It can be keyed in without making a mistake. And it sits succinctly everywhere — be it as sign-offs for grand ad campaigns or on humble visiting cards.

3) Make it memorable

“Memorability” is extremely important, especially if the brand is not going to have a sizeable communication support. Here, the domain name is the primary calling card for consumers, business associates and the likes. So, it makes sense to spend time and pick a name that is memorable, fresh and campaign-able.

4) Spell it right

Whatever name is chosen, care should be taken to make sure it is spelt right. ColdCoffee.com reads far better than KoldKoffee.com. Plus, people who are looking for a cold coffee are not going to type kold koffee in their search string. Tweak the spelling only if it is absolutely necessary. Else, do not go down that path.

5) Avoid hyphens

No hyphens, no confusion. There is a perpetual confusion whether the words have to be hyphenated or not. To native English writers / readers, the hyphen is like a pothole on a well-traversed road. They know exactly where it will show up. But it is not so much the case for non-natives. Either way, hyphens can cause mistakes when the URL is being typed.

6) Let the name ignite the business vision

The domain name you choose should possibly vivify your business vision. If it can’t do it in a word or two, the attempt should at least be to lead the interested party into the category you operate in.

7) Consider country-specific TLDs

If the business thrives within a particular country, then it is advisable to also consider a country-specific TLD. This is apart from the primary TLD. A .ca, .au, or .in can work wonders if the target audience is clearly mapped.

8) Prefixes and suffixes

Ideally, these are appendages that you can do without when considering a domain name. But if the name is a common word, then chances are it’s already taken. Prefixes and suffixes can help here. For example, if bellbottom.com is taken, then one can opt for thebellbottom.com or bellbottomonline.com. That said, you can also work around this issue by rustling up a short list of invented names and choosing from it.

9) Get creative

Choosing a domain name is akin to choosing a name for a baby. While getting creative is a good place to start, going way off would not be a good idea. Just because the child was really skinny at birth, SKINNY can’t be the name, however different it may sound. The case is similar when it comes to domain names. The name chosen can be creative, but not wildly off the mark to put away potential consumers. Worse yet, it might become a juicy online haven for spammers and type squatters to hatch their grand plans.

10) Register the domain name with a proper name registrar

Finally, this can make or break the brand’s presence on the web. It’s imperative to register with a reliable name registrar rather than go with ones who offer free registration. With an established registrar, you are likely to get thedomainyouchoose.com. But with a free registrar you are likely to land up with freesite/thedomainyouchoose.com. The difference, as you can see, is not so subtle.

These 10 commandments can come in real handy as you set out to make a name for your brand. Good luck!

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