Seven essential tips for choosing a domain name

Finding the perfect domain name for your new business’s website is imperative; after all, you’ll be using it for a long time and need to make sure it maximises your online presence. It will also serve as an introduction to your intended audience, according to Tara Commerford, the Australia and New Zealand Country Manager for GoDaddy, the world’s largest technology provider for small businesses.

“Today, most customers and potential customers look for information about your business online first,” she explains. Just as your company name is crucial, the domain name for your website can help you attract clients and offer some insight into your business.

Here, Commerford offers seven tips to help you find the ideal domain name for your small business.

1. Keep it short and simple

Two essential features of a great domain name are simplicity and longevity. “It’s important to ensure that when you’re choosing a domain name, you pick one that will be relevant for the life of your brand and not one that’s just trending for now,” Commerford says.

If your domain name is long and complex, customers are likely to mistype or misspell it. And it’s best to avoid numbers and hyphens. “With numbers, people don’t know if you’re using a numeral (5) or if it’s spelled out (five). If numbers are essential, register the different variations to be safe.”

Choose a domain that’s short and simple

2. Consider keywords

There are more than 200 factors that determine a website’s performance in Google's current algorithm, so your domain name alone won’t make or break your chances of ranking well. However, using a keyword (or keywords) in your domain name will help potential customers find you. You can use Google’s keyword tools to search for relevant terms.

“Think about what your customers will type into their search engine if they’re looking for a product or service like yours,” Commerford suggests. “Include these same search terms throughout your website, website tags and your website URL itself.”

3. Choose a relevant extension

Forget .com or .net; businesses now have plenty of other top-level domains (TLDs) to choose from. “Generic top-level domains, or gTLDs, provide organisations with a much wider range of choices to end their URLs than the standard .com and .org,” says Commerford.

An extension such as .news, for example, is ideal for bloggers and media professionals; extensions such as .guru or .ninja indicate specialist knowledge or expertise; and country-specific TLDs, such as, inform customers where you’re based. The latter can be even more precise, with an extension such as .Sydney or .Melbourne. However, if you service an international audience (or plan to in the future), it pays to register the corresponding .com TLD of your chosen domain name.

4. Check for trademarks

Registering a domain does not give you ownership of that name – and if it’s attached to an existing trademark, it could cause problems down the track. In Australia, if you have registered a .au domain that infringes on a competitor’s trademark, your domain name licence may be revoked by auDA – the national domain authority.

“Research is key,” Commerford stresses. “It’s vital to check the trademark registry before you purchase your chosen name.”

5. Register social usernames

Just like your business name and domain name, your social media usernames should be consistent and reflective of your brand. Before you lock in your domain name, make sure matching, similar or abbreviated usernames are available on each social platform that you plan to use. If they’re available, register them all before someone else beats you to it. If they’re already taken, you might want to reconsider your domain name.

There are certain situations that allow you to challenge someone else’s use of your preferred username. On Twitter, for example, if a seemingly inactive account has a registered trademark as its username, the holder of the trademark may contact Twitter and potentially inherit the username.

You can search for usernames that match your preferred domain name using tools like Namech_k and KnowEm.

6. Be flexible

If your preferred domain name is already taken, you can contact the owner and ask if they’re willing to sell. Otherwise, Commerford says you’ll need to reconsider your options. She suggests visiting domain registries and performing a keyword search. You can do this through sites like GoDaddy or Namecheap, You’ll then be given a list of options with different domain extensions.

7. Purchase similar domains

Once you’ve registered your domain name, Commerford recommends purchasing a few variations: different extensions, as well as misspelled versions. “This helps to prevent competitors from registering versions close to yours and helps to ensure that your customers are directed to your website, even if they make a mistake in keying in the domain name address.” This final step not only helps protect your brand, she continues, but safeguards your online reputation as well.