Considerations when choosing a domain name for your Web site
Author: Jeffrey Cohan (Dec 10, 2004)
Probably the FIRST marketing decision you'll make with respect to your
Web site is its DOMAIN NAME! Sure, you want to find (and register) the
right domain name. But we recommend you not sweat this too much.
In this short article, we'll discuss some common preconceptions (and
their antidotes); the handful of rules that exist; and, finally, a set of
considerations we think you should entertain.
Preconceptions (and their antidotes)
The domain name has to be the same as
the name of my company or organization.
Why? If your organization's name is "The Society For The
Preservation Of Felines", wouldn't it be way cool if your Web
site could be known as "cats.com"? Think "vanity license
plates". Think "CB handle". The key is getting your domain name
associated with your company's name, not necessarily
making the two identical.
Sure, it might be a good thing if your domain name is the same as your
company name. If, for example, you are IBM, CNN, or ABC, it certainly makes
sense. But there are some considerations you'll want to make (see below, in
"Considerations") before you take the leap.
(Related to above:) People won't find my Web site if the
domain name isn't the same as my company name.
Wrong! Search engines and directories will be displaying the
titles of your indexed pages much more prominently than
their URLs; and most Web surfers don't even look at the URLs!
Go ahead: try it! Search for "alpharetta history" in
Yahoo! I dare you to tell me that
anyone wouldn't know that the listing that shows up (#2 as of this
writing) is for the Alpharetta Historical
Society (whose domain name is ahsga.org).
My domain name must contain keywords about my Web
It's true that some search engines will reward you (with better
placement) if your domain name contains keywords that are applicable to
the content of your site. But this isn't the only consideration you should
be entertaining. After all, there are lots of ways an experienced Web
developer can help your site get indexed.
There aren't many. There are some restrictions about the top-level
domain (TLD) you use, but restrictions no longer pertain to .com, .info,
.name, .net, or .org. Recently the maximum length of a domain name was
extended from 26 characters to 67.
The best resource for answers to your questions about the rules of the
Domain Name System is:
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the
non-profit corporation that was formed to assume responsibility for the
management of top level domain names and root servers, allocation of IP
addresses, and assignment of Internet protocol parameters. These functions
had formerly been handled by IANA and the InterNIC.
We offer 7 simple consideration for choosing a domain name. See if
they don't help you make a good choice!
How does it sound when spoken (on your voicemail
greeting; in a radio announcement; from the mouth of the President when
she adjourns a meeting and reminds everyone to visit the site; etc.)?
How does it look when written? Are the characters,
taken together, discernible from each other? (You wouldn't want to be
known as 11lO0wv.org, would you?) Does it look good on your letterhead? On
your business cards? On the side of your truck? In your E-mail
How easy is it to spell (or misspell)? If people are
going to type your domain name directly into their browsers, will a
difficult spelling keep them from finding your Web site?
How easy is it type correctly (or incorrectly)? This,
of course is not exactly the same as the "spelling" issue. How many times,
for instance, have you typed "that" as "thta"? (Thank goodness for
spellcheck and auto-correct!)
Is the domain name too long? Might people might
mis-type it a few times and then give up and go somewhere else? (This can
be a problem when your company name is long and you're thinking of using
it for your domain name.)
How easy is it to remember? While some people will
bookmark your site to make return visits easy, you'll want your domain
name to be memorable.
How much does it sound like a "professional brand