With the increase in internet businesses the task of choosing a domain name has become too hard for beginners. That is why HUB8 is dedicating this guide to help people pick the right domain name for their business.
Your domain name is the gateway the world has to your business. It builds your brand and is one of the determinants in the way the world sees your business and the more reason why you have to do it right.
We have listed down the guidelines that would help you in choosing the best domain name for your business or personal page.
Step 1. Choosing a top-level domain
The names of many brands are identical to their domain name and so top-level domain is part of their logo too.
What is a top-level domain (or TLD)?
- Generic domains – .COM, .NET, .ORG
- Country domains – .NG for Nigeria, .KE for Kenya, .ZA for South Africa
- Thematic domains – .ONLINE, .SHOP, .TECH, .BLOG (HUB8 has more than 450 of them)
What’s the difference between them?
Technically speaking there is no difference between various TLDs.
But some domain names have gained the upper hand through marketing campaigns and also based on longevity. For example, a .COM TLD which is the oldest domain name is well-known, than a .PROPERTY TLD which is a relatively new domain extension.
.COM is the King
.COM domain was introduced in 1985 – it is the oldest and the most populated domain. It has about 128 million domains and counting. So, it is tough to find a free domain name within the .COM domain zone and good name resold for very high prices.
For example, below is a list of the most expensive .COM domains:
Advice: If you run an international company and sell products all over the world – it’s highly recommended to buy .COM domain.
If you own a local business, then country domain is a good choice. For example, .NG domain states that service is related to Nigeria so just looking at your domain name customer understands that he surely will be able to pay you using Nigerian bank account or local card (like Verve).
What’s more, your country specific domain (like .NG for Nigeria) helps you to rank better in Google’s search results in this country.
Some countries offer registration in first and second-level domains.
For example, Nigeria has:
- .NG – first level domain, general use;
- .COM.NG – second level, general use (usually for commercial entities);
- .NET.NG – second level, restricted to network organizations;
- .ORG.NG – second level, for non-commercial companies.
Which domain to choose in this case? The answer is simple – the shorter, the better. So registering .NG domain will be a good choice if you are on low budget (since .NG is 10x more expensive than .COM.NG).
Advice: run a local company? Buy your country domain – like .COM.NG or .NG for Nigeria, .CO.KE for Kenya, CO.ZA for South Africa and so on.
Thematic domains (also known as new gTLD domains)
First thematic domains were delegated in 2013, and now there are more than 1200 of them, so they cover almost every industry and every topic.
Here are the Top 10 most popular new gTLD domains (as at February 2018):
- .LOAN (2,4 million)
- .XYZ (2,3 million)
- .TOP (2 million)
- .CLUB (1,3 million)
- .VIP (0,9 million)
- .WIN (0,8 million)
- .ONLINE (0.8 million)
- .WANG (0.6 million)
- .SITE (0.5 million)
- .SHOP (0.5 million)
The categorized catalog of available thematic domains is available on our website – https://ng.hub8.com/domains
Advice: A thematic domain is an excellent choice in case .com and country domains are already taken by someone else. Some of them are rather new and have just a few thousands of registered names. It gives you the opportunity to get unique, short and memorable domain names.
Thematic domains with huge discounts
Some registries offer discounted promotional pricing on initial domain registrations, to attract new users and charge them the regular prices once the discounts period expires.
.TOP, .BID, .VIP, and others offer domains almost for free – the bad side of this marketing activity is that this pricing attracts spammers and malware. And spam filters give these domains higher scores that could lead to rejecting your emails.
Advice: it is okay to use heavily discounted domains for testing or for your personal website. But if you’re setting up an e-commerce website, it is advised not to use heavily discounted domain and buy something credible like .SHOP domain.
Free domain zones
Some domains can be registered for free (.tk, .ga, .ml). You don’t own this domain and it can be any time redirected, and advertisement will be shown to your visitors – so you will lose all the traffic and all the links you built.
Advice: Don’t use free domains unless it’s a test project visited only by you and for which you can switch a web address at any second.
Step 2. Choosing a good domain name
Before discussing naming strategies, we would like to emphasize that there is a simple rule for any online business – naming your new business should be done along with choosing the domain.
Advice: Don’t invest in your brand until you secure a domain name!
There are a lot of examples when online businesses have to buy already registered domains from the previous owners as they chosen peculiar names.
To name a few –
- Social bookmarking service Delicious initially had very tricky domain del.icio.us, then they had to buy domain Delicious.com;
- Twitter’s original domain was twttr.com, and later they pay up $7,500 to acquire the full spelling.
There can be a few strategies to create a good name:
- Brand (made-up word)
- One word, descriptive to your business
- Two words
- Keyword + location
- Keyword + prefix/suffix
- Domain hacks
Brand (made-up word)
Made-up word is the best choice for business name because it can be registered as a trademark.
Examples: Hub8.com, Twitter.com, Jiji.ng, Jumia.com.ng
One word, descriptive to your business
These type of words costs millions in .com zone, but they can still be available in some undeveloped country domains. For example, at the time we were writing this article a lot of keywords in .NG domain were still available (for example, Dentist.com.ng, Shoots.com.ng, Chemicals.com.ng).
We recommend registering this type of domains even if you already have a brand domain. You can still use this short and memorable name in advertising.
Examples: Hotels.ng, Ask.com, ToLet.com.ng
Probably the most popular method as it generates a lot of variations. And depending on the meaning, this could sound like a brand as well as made-up words. The most known domain created with this method is facebook.com (and clearly that domains like buybook.com or cheapbook.com look differently).
- Verb + noun: HireACar, GetTicket
- Adjective + noun: BestTrips, FastDelivery
- Noun + noun: FaceBook, TripAdvisor
Keyword + prefix/suffix
Use your niche keyword and add prefix or suffix to find available domain:
- Suggested prefixes: best, my, new, get, the, go, top, online, e, i, ez, super
- Suggested suffixes: online, club, 24×7, app, today, world, web, media, direct, info, now, store, country codes (like ng for Nigeria), city names
Examples for keyword “properties”: BestProperties.com, NewProperties.com, Properties24x7.com, LagosProperties.com (city name), eProperties.com
Abbreviations are usually used by state authorities and educational institutions. We recommend registering abbreviation for commercial entities as a secondary domain and set up a redirect to the full name domain.
Examples: lbs.edu.ng (Lagos Business School), aun.edu.ng (American University of Nigeria).
Domain hack is a word or phrase spelled by fully concatenating two or more adjacent levels of a domain name, for example, selli.ng, morni.ng, call.me, savefrom.net.
Advice: we recommend domain hacks to create your own URL corporate shortener service.
Domain name generators
As we mentioned before – there are about 128 million domain names registered in .COM. So you can break your head while trying to find good available .com domain name. The good news is that there are a few domain name generators on the Net which can spin the words, add suffixes, change domain zones and give you a list of domain names available for registration.
- NameMesh (https://www.namemesh.com) uses numerous methods to offer available domain names from your keyword.
- Panabee (http://www.panabee.com) generates not only free domain names but social media accounts and business names.
- Wordoid (http://wordoid.com) specializes in creating domain names from made up words.
Step 3. Verify chosen domain name
Keep it short and simple
A simple domain name encourages remembrance of the domain name. One word pronunciations tend to do better in that aspect.
Make it pronounceable
Even if you’re not going to advertise on the radio, people still going to tell the domain to each other on the phone. Try to tell the domain name to another person and ask him to write it down. Repeat this a few times with different people and check whether they write a correct domain name.
The problem with hyphens is related to the previous rule – they make it longer to pronounce. And the worst thing you can do is to register the domain with hyphen while hyphen-free domain is registered to another person.
Check for ways to read
That sometimes can happen if your domain name consists of 2 or 3 words. Examples of domains with a double meaning include:
- Expertsexchange.com – is it ExpertsExchange.com or ExpertSexChange.com?
- Whorepresents.com – is it WhoRepresents.com or WhorePresents.com?
Check other meanings
Once you come up with the name – try to search it on Google. You never know what made up word can mean – it could mean something terrible on the slang or in other languages. If you are going to go international – try to translate the name from the different languages to English using Google Translate. There are a lot of stories when even big companies have to rename their products because they sound weird in a foreign language.
Once your project is well-known, users will often search for your account directly on specific social media by typing your name (like twitter.com/yourdomainname). So it is vital to secure the same name within major social media networks.
Here a couple of services that will search for you:
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Although domain name is only one factor of SEO, there is still a place for improvement.
Using keywords in domains
Google highlights a search term if it appears in the domain name. However, this doesn’t mean that Google ranks such sites better, but it is still useful as users give preference when they see these domains (containing keywords). You can even get more clicks than sites above yours in search results. For example, user who is looking for “buy used car” definitely pay more close attention in the search results to the domain “usedcars.com” than to the “carmax.com” or “motors.com”.
Using country-specific domain
Google have different search results in each country, especially for commercial search terms. Country domain (like .NG for Nigeria or co.ke for Kenya) is a signal that this website is focused on visitors from this state and should be ranked better in this region.
Using thematic (new gTLD) domains
There is no difference in ranking factor between .COM and newly introduced thematic domains like .WEBSITE or .XYZ. But using related domain extension can improve click rate in search results. For example, a user searching for “funny videos” more likely click on the domain with .FUN or .VIDEO ending than .COM as it looks more related to his request.
Domain’s age and expiry date
Google gives less ranking points to the newly registered domains to reduce webspam. On the other hand, Google ranks better websites which have been registered for longer periods. .COM domains can be renewed for the period up to 10 years (and .NG domains – up to 5 years). So if you are working on a serious project, it is advised to renew a domain for more just one year.
Please note that this is a minor element but you need to consider every factor if you are making search engine optimization in a competitive niche.
Register misspelled domain names too
While keeping it short and simple, you could also capitalize on misspelled names. It means even if potential site visitors misspell your domain name, they would still land on your website. So think of every possible mistake that could be made when typing your name, and register them for redirection purposes.
Avoid copyright infringement
We have heard of different episodes on the news about business owners dragging themselves to court because one party uses a domain that has already been trademarked by another company. So, in other for you to avoid ending up in such kind of situation make sure you research the domain you are about to use to check if it doesn’t have too much similarity with a trademarked domain.
Check the domain’s history
Whether you are buying a domain name that was formerly in use or you are choosing a new one, it is advisable for you to check its history.
- Use majestic.com to check the inbound links and anchor text to the domain you are going to register;
- Use archive.org to review the previous contents of the website (if there were any).
Choose the right domain registrar
The last and most important part isn’t about choosing a domain name, but it’s when you start putting it to use, and this is the part where you select the domain registrar.
Some of the detriment that can be faced by choosing the wrong registrar is that if the said registrar happens not to register the domain in your name. This can happen if you bought web hosting and received free domain with that package. A domain registrar’s terms can prohibit to transfer the domain to another registrar, or there is an additional fee associated with that.
For you to be on a safer side, it is best for you to make use of notable registrar with good history, technology, and pricing. We at HUB8 are following registrar’s code of conduct – we always register the domain in the name of a customer, and you are allowed to transfer the domain to another registrar without any additional fees.
- Register .com or thematic domains for international domains. Country domains (like .NG for Nigeria) work well for local businesses.
- Avoid free and heavily discounted domains for serious projects.
- Use one of these techniques to create a great domain name: Brand (made-up word), One word (descriptive to your business), Two words, Keyword + location, Keyword + prefix/suffix, Abbreviation or Domain hacks.
- Domain name generators save time for finding good available domain name
- Verify a created domain name. Is it short and simple? Is it pronounced clearly? Does it have negative meaning as a slang? Is this username available on social networks?
- Register domain for a few years to gain more credibility from Google
- Register misspelled domain names too and redirect them to your main website
- Avoid trademarked names and check domain’s history
- Choose the right domain registrar. HUB8 is ready to serve you.
And the last advice – keep quiet, act fast!
Domain registration works on the “first come, first served” basis – so don’t publish your ideas, don’t discuss them with everyone. Once you come up with the perfect domain name, wait no longer and register your domain at HUB8 – https://ng.hub8.com.