Choosing a domain name: 4 golden rules

Having a strong web address is a crucial part of your online branding. Follow these simple rules to ensure you pick the right one…

Smart businesses are always looking to improve their revenue and one of the key ways to achieve this is through marketing – with online marketing becoming increasingly important.

Your business website should be a cornerstone of your online marketing, something which all other activities can be built around. And while an optimised website is key, the first step is to create and register your web address (also known as domain name). Having a strong web address is a crucial part of your online branding and there are a number of rules to consider to ensure you choose the right domain name for your start-up.

Domain name search service powered by VerisignTM

1. Think carefully about your domain extension

Whilst businesses might be really focused on how their company name is reflected in a web address, the extension of the address should be seen as just as important. There are many options available and the numbers of these continue to grow. However, .com remains the globally recognised standard. Take a look at this interview with PensionBee on their thought process behind choosing a name – and a domain.

Although it may have a global pull, .com is suitable for businesses of all sizes, adding credibility to a brand, future-proofing for expansion in times to come, but also helping ensure your business be easily found in Google searches – something which not all other extensions can guarantee.

There’s a lot to think about when trying to secure the right web address for your business. To make it a little easier, Verisign, the company that operates the .com infrastructure, has created the Name Suggestion Tool (above) – a step-by-step process which shows businesses what options are available to them, and how the right name can then be purchased swiftly and easily.

2. Use your imagination

Larger businesses will have created their online presence many moons ago, forcing the hand of more modest counterparts and burgeoning start-ups to be a bit more creative when selecting a domain name, but this isn’t something to be afraid of.

The uniqueness of a name means it is more likely to be remembered – and you may have considered this when originally choosing the name of your actual business. It is important that the web address name of a business isn’t forgotten easily or confused with another business. This may require creativity! Techniques such as combining two words (YouTube) or actually tweaking a word like Tumblr are just two examples of creative ways to secure a valuable domain name.


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3. Choose your words carefully

Google has an AdWords Keyword Tool that can show you the most relevant keywords to your business. This can influence your web address selection, because using these accurately and properly1 helps Google recognise what your website and business does and will help it to rank higher in searches.

Brainstorm keywords amongst your team or even better – speak to your potential target market or customers. Find out what they use to refer to businesses such as yours and utilise this information. Remember though that simplicity is also key, web addresses exist for customers, and as such should not be hard to understand.

4. Respect the law

Every business is unique in some way, but particularly when it comes to company names and registered trademarks. It might be attractive to some businesses to try and ‘piggyback’ off the success of a more famous counterpart, which may have a short-term benefit, but ultimately it’s not an advisable long-term strategy.

This was exemplified in June 2015 in the UK, when a Berkshire-based fancy-dress retailer was forced to give up a number of web addresses, including its flagship address – www.starwars.co.uk – following a lawsuit by Disney. The address may have been somewhat relevant to the company, and may have brought a substantial amount of visitors to the site, but ultimately it set the company back substantially in terms of its online marketing once the ruling had been made.

So, what are you waiting for? Register your domain name today!

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This article is a part of the ‘Getting Online’ series sponsored by Verisign.

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  1. Thanks for sharing Fabienne Laubscher,
    just a question in regards of the StarWars case…
    Do you think, Disney would have a chance if they released the StarWars after someone had the domain name?
    We are running business for over 15 years on our domain… someone bought the TM 5years ago and now wants to take it from us.
    Thanks