Choosing a domain name for your website is one of the most important components of running an online business. The right domain name is essential to the success of your website. Not only does it help you target the right audience, it also helps in website visibility.

A domain name is basically a user friendly way for people to locate your website among the millions of websites on the internet. When you buy web hosting and create a website, your website is assigned a unique IP address containing a string of characters that should be used to access the web server and web pages. Because remembering these strings of numbers can be difficult, the domain name system was created so that the original IP address characters can be replaced with easy-to-remember words or terms.

A domain name is typically made up of a combination of letters and numbers which makes it easy for people to recall and spell, making it easy for visitors to locate you online. It is also a way to make your brand stronger and is usually the first impression potential visitors get about your website.

Securing the right domain name for your website is not only a crucial step towards the success of your online business; it can also be a tremendously difficult process. Little wonder lots of online business owners spend countless number of hours and sleepless nights trying to come up with something that properly defines their brands. However, in some cases and despite the effort and resources, many people end up with a domain name that does little or nothing for their website.

If you are worried about securing the right domain name for your online business, this article will help you in many ways. Here, we look at a number of do’s and don’ts that should control your search for the right domain name.

Do keep it short

The best domain names are those that are short and simple. Complicated and long domain names only end up confusing your visitor or leading them to another website. When choosing a domain name, always opt for domain names that people can easily remember and spell. It is a fact that most of the successful websites around today all have incredibly short domain names of less than 15 characters. While it may seem like a great idea to use your full names or the complete name of your business as your domain name, consider if your choice of name can pass the radio test. This is a test to see if a potential visitor can understand, remember and spell your domain name correctly when heard over the radio or phone.

Securing a Domain Name: the Do's and Don’ts

Do your research

It is vital that you do your homework when considering a domain name. This means researching the domain name to see if there is any legal issue attached to it, and researching the domain name registrar for reliability. Your domain name is intricately tied to the destiny of your online business and it would be frustrating to build a brand around a name only to discover that you can no longer use it due to trademark or copyright issues. A good example of such a situation is the legal battle that took place between young blogger Mike Rowesoft and IT giant Microsoft. Even though the case ended to the satisfaction of both parties, chances are yours may not. Make good use of WHOIS records to find out if there are any legal or trademark issues tied to the name you want to use so as to avoid future problems.

Do include keywords

If you are familiar with how the internet works, you will agree that keywords are crucial to the visibility of websites. In fact, on-page SEO is incomplete without relevant keywords in the body of your website’s content. Keywords in your domain name are also as relevant as keywords in your website’s content. Even if you end up not getting much SEO value from using keywords in your domain name, at the very least it will help visitors understand what your website is about. For example, if your business or website is about car repair tips, using as your domain name will help you gain traffic for searches related to the keywords “auto, car, repair, tips”; or if you can use a name like if you are are a hosting company selling cheap domains. It will also make it easy for visitors to recognise the purpose of your website without ever clicking on your links. It is important though, that when including keywords in your domain name, avoid doing it in the way that can cause Google to penalise you.

Securing a Domain Name: the Do's and Don’ts

Do confirm on social media

Being active on social media is one of the fastest ways to grow your online business. But it can be difficult to enjoy the benefits of your social media platform when visitors either cannot find you on social media, or fail to identify you because of your social media handle. For this reason, before committing to a domain name, take time to confirm that the name is free across your target social media platforms. Using the same name as your domain for your social media accounts will help fans easily identify your site. It also helps you maintain a uniform brand across all internet mediums.

Do protect your privacy

Depending on the type of business you run and the amount of exposure you want, it can be a good idea to protect your privacy as a website owner. When you register a domain name, you are required to submit certain personal information such as your names, phone numbers, addresses and email. This information is usually in the public domain and accessible on the WHOIS platform. While there is no law against having your information out there, it can be used by identity thieves to commit crimes. If you want to avoid having your domain information out in the public, you can opt for domain privacy. This premium add-on by the domain registrar hides your information from the public.

Do remember to renew

It is one thing to come up with the ideal domain name, but it is another thing to secure it for your use. After coming up with your preferred domain name, you are expected to register it with an ICANN accredited domain name registrar. This registration is for one year. At the expiration of the year, your domain name will be put back on the market for sale if you fail to renew it. Or course, a reliable domain name registrar will send you an alert once the expiration date is approaching, but you can go a step further by enabling auto-renew in your domain name portal. This way, your domain name is automatically renewed using the payment details on record.

Don’t use complicated domain names

Also, try as much as possible to avoid using complicated domain names in a bid to be unique. Apart from numbers and characters, homonyms are words that can make your domain name look complicated; confuse visitors and take them to a different website.

You should also avoid using words that are shortened. While this will definitely make your domain name unique, it can mean a completely different thing from what you are trying to say. For example, and may mean the same thing to you, but mean something entirely different to your visitors. If you are finding it hard to make up a domain name from your names or business name, why not consider inventing a new word altogether? After all, internet giants like Yahoo and Google did it with incredible success.

Securing a Domain Name: the Do's and Don’ts

Don’t get stuck on .COM

Everyone knows that the .COM domain name extension is the king of the pack and rarely would you see a successful website that doesn’t end with a .COM. This has caused many website owners sleepless nights trying to come up with the perfect .COM domain name. The truth is that coming up with the perfect .COM domain name today will be very difficult, if not impossible; but that does not mean you cannot try. However, rather than opt for a .COM domain name that has nothing to do with your business, or that you have no connection with whatsoever, it may be a better idea to check among the numerous other available domain name extensions.

There are situations where these alternative extensions will work perfectly, and if you want to get a bit creative, you can opt for any of the niche based domain name extensions. That said, first try to see if you can get a .COM version of your preferred domain name, but do not restrict yourself to .COM only. Consider other extensions if your search fails.

Wrapping up

It is vital to the success of your business that you choose the right domain name from the beginning. Making the wrong choice can have far reaching consequences on the success of your website. Consider the do’s and don’ts covered above and see how you can use them to secure the perfect domain name for your website.