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Selecting the best domain name for your website

Posted 09/04/07 by David Web Permalink

The domain name or URL of your website is arguably the first thing most people will see and may determine whether they even choose to visit your site at all.

Therefore it is extremely important to select a domain name that reflects both your company's image and the content of your website.

The mechanics of a domain name

Domains name should be roughly between 2 and 50 characters long and can only contain letters, digits and the hyphen character ( - ). Domains are not case sensitive but it is generally accepted that they be left as all lower-case.

Choosing the right domain name for your website

When deciding to select a domain for your company website you should target the domain at your prospective visitors. This will then impact on the style and type of words and language used in your domain name.

Try and keep the length of your domain as short and memorable as possible. If you are a small start-up company and cannot afford a short catchy domain name then try and use a combination of two or three keywords or simply your company name.

Avoid using hyphens between words as this will make it harder for people to remember and promote your website via word of mouth and recommendations. The only exception to using hyphens between words should be when these keywords could be interpreted differently by search engines and viewers alike. The classic example is - www.expertsexchange.com - is this experts exchange or expert sex change?

If you really want to use hyphens then register the non hyphenated version of the domain too and redirect visitors accordingly.

This is also a useful method for registering misspellings of your domain and then forwarding to your 'real' domain. Common misspellings should be registered as well as ambiguous characters such as the number 1 instead of an upper-case i. Better still you should avoid using ambiguous spelled words and characters completely. This also applies to words that are spelt differently between the UK and USA - such as color and colour.

Use the proper extension

While there are guidelines set out for which domain extensions you should use, for your location or type of website, these are often ignored. I would recommend that if you are targeting a global audience you should try and register a .com domain. You should also register the extensions for the countries you are based in, eg. .co.uk for UK companies.

Conclusion

Search engines are now placing far less importance on the keywords in your domain name so the benefits of your domain should primarily be targeted at your company identity and your targeted audience. Try and make your domain short and easy for people to remember and tell each other. If you register a number of variants of your domain then you should redirect these to your primary domain to avoid any duplication penalties from Google.