As you make your move into the world of online marketing, the first thing that you’ll likely do is register a domain name for your blog or website. Choosing the best Web address for your business is one of the most important things that you’ll ever do when it comes to marketing. After all, your website is analogous to a shop window, so it is essential that you get it just right. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key practices for choosing an excellent domain name.

Choosing a Top-Level Domain

The final part of your Web address is known as the top-level domain, such as .com or .net. As a general rule, you’ll want to stick to having a .com address unless your website has a specifically local or national reach, in which case you may want to consider using the TLD of your country or region. Unfortunately, however, because .com is by far the most popular TLD in the world, there’s always a good chance that the address you want is already taken.

Best Practices for Choosing a Domain Name

Your domain name should be something that your audience will come to remember, or in the case of a local business which has been around for some time, something that people already recognize. These days, you should take the domain name into account when coming up with a name for your business in the first place, since shorter and simpler domains tend to work better. People will have a much easier time of remembering your domain and typing it in if it is no more than three words in length.

Your domain should be as easy to spell as possible. However, if your business has a name that is commonly misspelled, you should also register the misspelled version as well. Many websites register a domain that is deliberately misspelled, including Google itself: if you enter gooogle.com into your browser, it will automatically redirect you to google.com. Similarly, you may also want to consider registering domain names featuring both the singular and plural of any words in the address, if applicable.

Domain Names and Search Engine Optimization

When choosing your domain name, you should also take the search engines into account, since you’ll need to do everything you can to maximize the amount of traffic that your website receives from them. Following are some tips to help you find the optimal domain name:

  • Try to find a compromise between a catchy and easily memorable domain name and one that contains one or two relevant keywords that you intend to target.
  • Be wary of using hyphens in your domain name. Although hyphens can help to improve readability by separating words, they are often associated with their use in spam. If you do use a hyphen, do not use any more than one.
  • Use subfolders rather than subdomains for different sections of your website such as example.com/blog rather than blog.example.com. The only exception is language-specific versions of your website, which should generally use subdomains.

What to Do If Your Domain Is Already Registered

According to statdns.com, there are more than 115 million .com addresses, so there’s always a good chance that the domain name you want has already been registered. Once you know exactly what you want your Web address to be, only to find that it’s already taken, you might think that you have run out of options. Fortunately, there may still be a few things you can do, and we’ll take a look at some of the possibilities below:

  • If you cannot slightly alter the domain name itself, consider registering a website with the .net TLD. Unlike most other TLDs, .net is suitable for any type of website, regardless of its subject matter or geographical location. In other situations, you may find that a national TLD or another TLD, such as .info or .org, is more suitable for your particular website anyway.
  • Try using an abbreviation of your business name if you have one that is already widely recognized among your customers. Alternatively, try adding a keyword to your domain name explaining what your business does.
  • If you cannot think of a suitable alternative, your only other option may be to approach the owner of the domain you want directly and ask them if they would be interested in selling it. Alternatively, you may find that the domain is listed in the auctions at a hosting company like Go Daddy.
  • In some cases, unscrupulous individuals register domain names with the goal of preventing others from being able to buy it, and in many cases, the domain is a valuable one that may already be the name of a known business. Known as cybersquatting, this practice is illegal, and if you feel that your preferred domain has been unfairly registered by someone else, you will have to take up action as outlined in the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.

On a final note, if you need to find out who has already registered the domain name you want, you can usually find all of the necessary information at whois.com.