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Picking the Right Business Domain Name

choosing-domain-names-4Microsoft recently filed a complaint to acquire domain names associated with its Xbox One product, according to Fusible. This reflects the company’s policy of targeting “domain name squatters,” and illustrates how significant industry insiders consider owning the right URL. But why is this important? And what do smaller businesses need to know when selecting names?

Business-Naming Basics

Domain name selection normally follows coming up with a business name. If you think of common names, many small businesses, such as law firms, are named after their owners or partners. Even some larger companies, like McDonald’s, follow this pattern.

Other recognizable brands have more distinctive names, such as 3M, Apple or Kodak. Sometimes these bear no obvious connection to the company’s product, as illustrated by Google.

While such random names sometimes succeed, your odds are better if you plan strategically, as suggests. A good name should be easy to read, pronounce, spell, and remember. It should project the image and message you want to convey. Finally, it should be legally available, which you can ascertain by doing a search for similar names. You should include a search of websites, which you can conduct using resources such as those linked on and similar services.

Combining these strategies with techniques such as using personal and geographic names, and testing different synonyms, can help generate possible names. Automated tools offer additional help.

Your Company, Brand, Product, or Sales Theme

After naming your business, several strategies, as pointed out by GoDaddy, can be used to name your website. You can use your company name, as illustrated by Walmart. This makes sense if your target market will be searching for you or typing in your URL, implying they’re already aware of you. Similar considerations apply if you’re naming your site after a brand or product you can assume your market is already searching for, as with Xbox One.

Another tactic is to choose a name that communicates your sales theme, describing what problem you solve, or what benefit you offer. This approach is useful when your visitors are unfamiliar with what you sell. If your company name includes your sales theme, as with Weight Watchers, you can combine this approach with the previous strategy.

Naming Your Site Based on Keywords

Another tactic is building a keyword phrase into your name. This is useful if search engine traffic will play a major role in your promotional strategy. However, search engines represent only one possible traffic source, and Google does not give as much SEO weight to keyword-laden domains as previously. It is possible to rank highly without keywords, as Google representative Matt Cutts points out on YouTube, using examples such as Zynga, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo!, and his own company. Whether a keyword-based domain makes sense depends on your overall marketing strategy.

Picking Your Suffix

Finally, consider your domain suffix. For American businesses, .com is the best option, due to user habits. If .com is not available, .org and .net are equivalent for SEO purposes. For companies based outside the U.S., a country-specific suffix such as may apply.

Going with the right option for your business may require advice from outside these tips. If so, let us know!

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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