When building a website, there are a number of things you’re simply required to do. Selecting a CMS, picking the right hosting, etc. You get the picture. But when you’re building a website for your clients, one of the decisions you’ll be required to make is purchasing a domain name. Unfortunately, many creative agencies don’t put as much thought into their clients’ domain selection as they should.
If you plan on building a website either for yourself or for your clients, you need to be aware of proper domain selection practices. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you purchase a domain:
Purchasing a Domain: 5 Tips to Keep in Mind
Domain names are a lot more important than you may think. Not only does a domain name serve a functional purpose of navigation - they have impact on SEO, user experience, and other key aspects of website performance.
Here are 5 tips to keep in mind before you purchase a domain:
1) Aim for Shorter
There are many reasons behind this. There is a general psychological UX principle that users are deterred from clicking on long URLs. It’s the reason there are so many URL-rebranding tools out there!
While any URL may fit in your desktop computer, think about users navigating on mobile devices, tablets, and laptops. Users have a heightened sense of trust on the security of a site when a URL is concise, clear, and completely visible on any device. Also, shorter URLs are easier to read - you’re not making your users play Mad Gab to figure out what it says.
2) Avoid Slang
This should go without saying, but you’ll want to completely avoid using slang terms in your domain name. A domain serves a different purpose than marketing messaging and should make sense to non-native speakers as well as be relevant several years down the line. Unlike marketing messaging which may change over time, your domain name should stay the same long-term. Play it safe and pick something clear, concise, and relevant to your company and industry.
3) Domain Aliasing
This is something that’s especially important for companies who may be planning to get a lot of direct traffic. Domain aliasing allows you to point traffic to the same “room” from multiple “doors”. An example would be purchasing a domain - example.com - and building your website on that domain. Then, pointing various other domains - example.net OR examples.com - to the original website’s content. If you want users to be able to navigate to your site from a variety of different domain names, domain aliasing is a smart route to go.
4) Avoid Similar Domains to Existing Ones
This may seem near impossible with how many millions of websites are out there today but if possible, avoid purchasing a domain name that’s extremely similar to other existing ones. More specifically, avoid short cuts using suffixes at the end of existing domains – making it plural, adding “ing”, “ed”, “es”, or any other short variation of another company’s domain. Not only is it unwise from a branding standpoint – it may actually be harmful from an SEO-growth standpoint, as searches for terms related to your chosen domain name would render a competitor’s already-established website far before yours.
5) Buy Multiple Domains with Numbers in the Name
If your brand has numbers in its name, website domains can get confusing really fast. For example, if you have a “5” in your company’s name, your best bet is to purchase two domains – one with “5”, and one with “five”. This is a smart approach to controlling direct traffic and keeping alternative, similar domains from being snatched up by companies other than yours.
Another good move is to buy a number and letter version of domain names that a user may accidentally swap out. For example, if your company name has “O2” in it (as in, “Oxygen”), it would be smart to purchase a domain name with ‘0’ and “O”.
Wrapping it Up
Those are just a few tips to keep in mind before purchasing your next domain next! Keep it short, concise, and clear. Use domain aliasing when necessary and snatch up potentially confusing and related domain names. Keep clear of mimicking competitor’s domain names as it can be harmful to your SEO in the long-term. Happy domain-shopping!