10 tips for choosing the perfect domain name

Make a statement

Like choosing a company name, choosing a domain name requires careful thought. Your domain name is your identity on the web – it should be memorable, it should fit your business, and it should be easy to find and promote.

  1. Make it easy to type.
  2. Keep it short.
  3. Use keywords.
  4. Target your area.
  5. Avoid numbers and hyphens.
  6. Be memorable.
  7. Research it.
  8. Use an appropriate domain name extension.
  9. Protect and build your brand.
  10. Act fast.

Follow the steps below to help you pick the perfect domain name. And if you want to learn even more about choosing a domain name, check out “Claim your domain and make a statement online” for in-depth domain name tips and tricks

1. Make it easy to type

An easy-to-type domain name is critical to online success. Unconventional spelling (katchoftheday.co.za instead of catchoftheday.co.za), contractions (‘u’ instead of ‘you’), and neologisms (newly made-up words) can be clever and memorable. But they can also mean people will type in the wrong search term or domain name when they look for your business online.

2. Keep it short

If your domain name is long and complex, you risk customers mistyping or misspelling it. Short and simple is the way to go, unless your aim is to break a record.

3. Use keywords

Try using keywords that describe your business and the services you offer. For example, if you’re a glass replacement business, you may want to register GlassRepair.co.za or GlassReplacement.co.za. It helps improve your rank on search engines (which increases traffic) and just makes more sense to your customers.

Research from Higher Visibility shows that including a keyword in a website domain name has a widespread and positive impact on search engine optimisation.

4. Target your area

If your business is local, consider including your city in your domain name to make it easy for local customers to find and remember. Example: JoziGlassRepair.co.za

5. Avoid numbers and hyphens

Numbers and hyphens are often misunderstood – people who hear your website address don’t know if you’re using a numeral (5) or it’s spelled out (five) or they misplace or forget the dash. If you need these in your domain, register the different variations to be safe.

6. Be memorable

There are millions of registered domain names, so having a domain that’s catchy and memorable is essential. Once you’ve come up with a name, share it with close friends to make sure it sounds appealing and makes sense to others.

Quick solution: Got a great idea for a domain? Register your name today and put a website out there before someone else beats you to it.

Choosing a domain name

7. Research it

Make sure the name you’ve selected isn’t trademarked, copyrighted or being used by another company. It may result in a huge legal mess that could cost you a fortune, as well as your domain!

As the largest reseller of aftermarket domain names, GoDaddy has access to extensive data that we use to analyse millions of historical domain sales. Try out GoDaddy Domain Appraisals to determine the value of your domain, so you can name your business with purpose.

8. Use an appropriate domain name extension

Extensions are suffixes, such as .com or .net, at the end of web addresses. These can have specific uses, so make sure to choose one that works for your business. The .co.za and .com domain extensions are the most popular for South Africans. It can be tough to get a short and memorable .com domain name because it’s been around for so long.

A horde of new generic top-level domains – like .photography and .guru – offer a great opportunity to register short and highly relevant names. Here are some other top extensions and how they’re often used:

  • .co : an abbreviation for company, commerce and community.
  • .info : informational sites.
  • .net : technical, internet infrastructure sites.
  • .org : non-commercial organisations and non-profits.
  • .biz : business or commercial use, like e-commerce sites.
  • .me : blogs, resumes or personal sites.

Pro tip: You don’t need to build a website for every domain. Just forward any additional domains to your primary website.

9. Protect and build your brand

To protect your brand, you should purchase various domain extensions, as well as misspelled versions of your domain name. This prevents competitors from registering other versions and ensures your customers are directed to your website, even if they mistype it.

10. Act fast

Domain names sell quickly. Thankfully, many domain names are also inexpensive, so register your favourite domain names as soon as possible. If you’re having trouble finding an available name, domain registrars like GoDaddy will suggest alternates during your domain search to help you find the perfect name.

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Andrea Rowland
A former small business owner and newspaper journalist, and a published nonfiction author, Andrea Rowland helps craft compelling communications for small businesses and web pros through her work as managing editor of the GoDaddy Garage. When she's not writing or editing, she likes to experiment with baking, travel, read, and dip her toes in the ocean.