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How to choose a domain name for your online business

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Roses may very well be equally lovely should they have been called anything else but when you are an entrepreneur seeking to build an online presence that engages and sells, names matter.

Especially if we are talking about domain names that can make or break your business.

I’ll never forget the time in high school when I had to write a report on the White House and thought about typing that name in the browser. The internet was not so developed back then and neither were parental controls. I didn’t know that since it is an institution it would be .gov instead of .com and, long story short, I stumbled upon content that was not only irrelevant but also not suitable for me. I have checked now and that bawdy site is no longer up and running (I know that’s what you had in mind to do too).

About extensions

With several extensions available, you might wonder which is the best for you: .com, .org or .net? .gov is obviously not a choice for you since you are looking to sell your own online courses, not provide governmental services.

Out of the ones that are eligible for your domain, my opinion is .com is the best way to go. According to research from DomainNameStat, more than 40% of all domains have the “.com” extension so it is the most common and easy to remember. Being memorable has to do both with being original and being recognizable and familiar so sticking to the crowd is the best for this.

If you are really set on a domain name and it is no longer available on .com you can go for .net or .org. If those are taken too, you’ll just have to brainstorm for another name that will smell just as sweet.

Make the name short and easy to type

Being accessible is very important when you want to make an impression online. People should find you with ease so it’s best to pick a name that is rather short – between seven and fifteen letters. Where this is concerned, the shorter the better bun since the brief names have already been bought for good money some years ago you’ll have to be inventive.

Your innovative skills, however, ought not to lead you to a name that is difficult to spell – don’t replace letters, pick difficult words or go for puns (regardless how funny or smart they seem). If you have to explain the spelling it’s already too complicated.

Keep in mind that if your domain does not appear in the few nanoseconds following the hitting of the search button people will give up and move on.

Pronunciation matters

Apart from having a name that is easy to remember and type, it’s good to have one that is easily said as well. A lot of promotion is done by word of mouth so people might literally hear about you from their friends, teachers or acquaintances they make over coffee. Regardless of the source, it’s great to have potential customers search for you.

Just make sure that they are looking for the right name and they find your site, not the competition or something totally random and unrelated.

You can easily verify if that’s the case by testing your domain name on a group of your friends or colleagues and see where the wondrous ways of the world wide web takes them. If some of them end up in the wrong virtual place try to fix whatever leads to misunderstandings.

Choose for the long run

A domain name is something you don’t change that often, so plan accordingly. Even if, to start with, you are promoting one online course, for example, don’t use terms that are only linkable to it.

A future change of domain would mean losing an existing audience, investing in a new name, working on the SEO to get better rankings and totally re-thinking the branding. It’s obviously more efficient if you do all these only once so when you decide on your name, think long-term.

Read more: Don’t forget about SEO when creating your online course

It’s best not to pin yourself to a very small niche you’ll want to move from in the future. Vision is at the root of every business and you ought to formulate yours before setting up your .com.

Make sure your name is not trademarked or already used

Once you have the perfect name in mind, check it online. Before you move forward with it, verify if the name is available on social media sites, as well as if there are any trademarks already registered to the name. You can check current trademarks here.

When you are building your brand, it’s ideal to have the same name across your domain, social networks and all other points of online presence. This builds familiarity and makes it easy for existing and potential customers to find you around the web, share your posts, mention you in reviews or recommend you to others.

Read more: 6 Personal branding tips for knowledge entrepreneurs

Legal issues are never fun to deal with so it is best to steer away from names that are already attached to trademarks.

Wrapping up

Finding the most adept domain name is all about picking the right representation of your business online. It’s important not to rush it and make sure it’s something you feel good about and is relevant, recognizable and easily shared either in writing or by means of the spoken word.

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