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Finding a domain name that won’t let you down - and a few tools to help

Before you can start bringing business to your website, you'll need to set up a URL where people know where to find you. It's easy enough to buy a domain name and find a website host. But if you don't put thought and effort into your domain name, you could end up with one so clunky and unwieldy that it actually impacts your business.

Your choice of domain name should preferably come as early in the development process as possible. The name of your business may even be influenced by the availability of certain domains.

Your domain name acts as your virtual address - your own little unique corner of the Web. Unfortunately, the Internet is already pretty crowded, and a lot of domain names are already taken. You might come up with a perfect one, only to find it's already been staked out by a completely different company. Even if this is the case, there are other options available to you.

Here are some of our tips for choosing a domain name that will work for you:

Be Unique
It goes without saying that you want your domain name to stand out from the pack. So what exactly goes into a name?

Sometimes, websites create their domain names by combining two existing words (Facebook.com, HubSpot.com, YouTube.com - or you know, this website! ProofFactor.com!), or by using an acronym (AOL.com, BMW.com), or by simply claiming an everyday word and transforming it into a brand (Medium.com, Amazon.com). Still other websites just straight-up invent words (Moz.com, Wix.com), and that seems to work just fine for them!

In fact, there's really no right way to do it at all. There's lots of ways to create cool website names.

These are just a few ideas on how to approach it. Whichever one you use will be largely dependent on your business's brand. If you feel like none of these approaches are working for you, try taking a step back. Try writing down just a few words that you feel best describe your business's goals and values. There are tools available to help you organize these vague ideas into a solid URL.

If your website's primary focus is on local clients and business, you might also want to strongly consider including the name of your city or state in the URL, as well.

Build Your Brand
You should consider choosing an effective domain name as just another part of building your online brand. If your business offers a very specific product or service, you wouldn't want a generic, broad URL.

This is an important thing to keep in mind with SEO. Google's algorithms love established brands and sites that have a lot of recognition among its user base. Choosing your domain name is one of the first steps towards building that recognition for your own business.

Use Keywords, If Appropriate
There are conflicting opinions on whether or not putting keywords in your domain name can actually have a positive effect on SEO or not. The short answer is: it probably can't hurt. While it may not affect where your website shows up on a search, it may actually have a positive effect on your clickthrough rate.

For example, someone who's going on Google to look for vegan recipes is probably very likely to click a link reading VeganRecipes.com, compare to a more generic recipe site.

Avoid Unnecessary Hyphens
If you can help it, don't use hyphens in your URL. Not only are they not very aesthetically pleasing, they may confuse potential customers if they forget to type the hyphens. They'll end up missing your site or even landing on a completely different one.

It's just better for everyone this way. There is a small number of websites that get away with flaunting this rule, but yours... probably isn't one of them. Winners don't use hyphens!

**Use the .com Extension **
When it comes to URL's, the .com extension is by far the most popular. Why? Because people and search engines tend to be familiar with these types of extensions, and will view your site as more trustworthy.


This isn't always the case - extensions like .tv or .info certainly have their uses. But if you're running an ecommerce business, it's best to stick with .com. Other types of extensions, unfortunately, often have a stigma associated with them for many people, who might view the URL as shady or unreliable. You might also consider purchasing the .net extension for your domain name as well. If your business is going to be well-known and successful, you don't want someone else to be in control of that domain.

Keep it Simple and Memorable
URLs like Facebook.com and Twitter.com are instantly recognizeable to anyone who's spent time on the Internet. They're so iconic that it's nearly impossible to confuse them with another business. You want your own domain name to set you apart in this way. Another option to consider if you're promoting a wider range of work or your own hand-crafted products is to simply use your own name as a URL.

"My Domain Is Already Taken!"
So you've come up with the perfect domain name that's consistent with your branding and SEO goals. There's just one problem - somebody's already staked it out!

It's not the end of the world - you don't have to scrap your entire idea and start from scratch by any means. But you may have to modify your original plan somewhat. Consider what kind of adjective, verb or other descriptor you could add that would better describe your business and inspire people to click. Or, alternatively, is there anything you could take away to streamline the URL? With a little bit of work, you should have no trouble finding a domain name that isn't taken. Many new websits use verbs to modify the url in a way that makes sense. For example, when the domain "credo.com" was not available, the onwers used "getcredo.com" instead. The common verbs we've seen out there are "Use, Get, Buy" - see how those would work out on your site.

If your original URL idea is taken, it's important to view it more as an opportunity to improve and focus your business's brand, rather than as a setback.

The ultimate success of your business will obviously be determined by a lot more than just your domain name. But it does play an important role in a much larger process. Spend some time developing an effective domain name, and you might even get some ideas on how to improve your website's branding along the way.

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Finding a domain name that won’t let you down - and a few tools to help
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