Ten Things to Watch Out for with Domains

The right domain name can make a huge difference in how your company performs online. It can take a company and a brand to new levels. It’s about more than just hitting the right keywords, though. Whether it’s for a personal website or for your business, the name you choose is going to have a huge impact on your success. Unfortunately, many new companies and webmasters make some pretty lethal mistakes even at this early, foundational stage. These common errors are easy to avoid if you know what has tripped up other people and companies in the past.

1. Keep it short. You could have a domain with up to 63 characters, but you need to remember that no one is going to be able to remember something that long. Register the shortest name you can that customers are going to associate with your business.

2. Easy to spell. Word of mouth is the most common and effective form of advertising. If someone hears about your website and wants to visit it, they need to be able to get there as quickly and easily as possible. If things are too hard to spell, chances are they won’t be able to find your website easy enough. Use the most common spelling of words or make it easy to write out phonetically. Webmasters often have been into their own ideas with domain names, they then will buy hard to spell and say domains, and they get lost in word of mouth. Keeping it simple is everything.

3. Be relevant. Too many companies go and get a domain that has absolutely nothing to do with their business, but has some keywords they think are important. This is very confusing for customers because it sends out mixed messages about your products or services. Ideally you will use your business name, but if the original domain you wanted is gone, use some very specific keywords that pertain to you instead.

4. Don’t wait too long. Domains are being purchased very quickly, often based on industry trends or popular keywords. Once you decide to purchase one, make sure you act fast. The longer you wait, the more chance you have of someone else getting it before you. If you can’t decide what you want but have a good idea, it is better to hurry and reserve it before someone else takes it.

5. Avoid Trademarked Names. Too many stories fly around about a guy who bought a .com domain with a celebrity’s or a huge multi-million-dollar company’s name and made millions of dollars off of it when they bought it from him. Not only is this attempt not very nice, but it can also cost you a lot of money. These companies and celebrities are no longer willing to fork money over to get their names back, but they will pay a lawyer and take you to court.

6. Don’t use characters. There is no place in a domain name for a hyphen (or underscore). People will never remember that you used them and will get frustrated trying to look you up. You should spell things how they sound, and no one knows how a hyphen sounds. There is a reason that no popular sites use them, or any other character for that matter. It’s confusing and sometimes unprofessional.

7. The .com matters. If you are going to be serious with your domain and put the money and time into making it an asset for a business, it is worth it to get a .com instead of any other extension. It is the oldest and most common, which means it is the extension everyone is going to try the first time.

8. Don’t waste your money. Purchasing a domain isn’t something that you should do on a hit or miss basis. It takes a lot of time and effort to build up your website, and if you have to keep repeating the process on new domains, it will continue to drain your time and money. This isn’t something you want to do based on gut feelings. Have a plan and stick to it.

9. Be memorable. There are most likely quite a few domains you could potentially use, but that doesn’t mean they are all the right fit. You should pick a name that is not only unique, but also memorable. If people cannot remember the name, they are not going to find it later. It doesn’t have to be a real word, but it should stick in the mind.

10. Get more than one. Some companies have realized they are losing their customers to common misspellings of their name or to other extensions like .net. Many have found success in purchasing these other domains as well so they can redirect the traffic to the right place.

Avoiding these common pitfalls is going to help you choose a domain that will set you up for success. This can bring a lot of value to your business, so don’t wait too long.

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