As a start-up, one of the first things you’ll be needing is a website. But before you can start building one, you’ll have the tricky task of choosing a domain name. Here’s what to avoid when making this important decision.
When you’re in the process of setting up a new business, one of the first things you’ll think about is what to call your new company. As if thinking of a name wasn’t already challenging enough, it’s now imperative to consider whether your chosen business name has a suitable domain name available to match. That’s not just because this keeps your branding consistent. It’s because when your customers search for you online, they’ll naturally assume that your web address will match your business name.
With many of the popular domain names already taken (particularly the short ones), it’s little wonder that some start-ups resort to making up new words; that’s why strange brand names like Moonpig and Shpock have sprung up in recent years. If your brand name domain is taken, an alternative is to choose one that strongly reflects what you do. If you were a Yorkshire cheesemaker called Smith & Co, your domain name could be yorkshirecheese.uk, for example.
Imagine you’re on the phone to a customer and telling them to visit your website. When you tell them your web address, do you have to spell it out word by word, letter by letter? If so, you’ve probably chosen a domain name that’s too complicated. The simpler your domain name is to say and spell, the better. Simple domain names are more memorable, too. Avoid domain names that are:
● Too long - your domain name should be as short as possible, ideally containing no more than two words.
● Too complicated - avoid complex words that people might not understand.
● Hard to spell - avoid words that are often misspelled, as customers may not be able to find you.
Your domain name is going to be with you for a long time. Although in theory you can change it any time, the practicalities of doing so make it unwise; you’ll lose some of your Google ranking power, for example, which could result in lost business.
Although you can redirect pages from your old domain to your new one, changing domain disrupts the brand you’ve worked hard to build up - not to mention meaning you’ll need to get new business stationery printed.
This means that you need to think carefully about your choice of domain name and ensure that it doesn’t limit your business in the future. You might start out offering one product or service - let’s say bath products - and reflect that in your domain name. But what happens when, in the future, you want to launch another kind of product that isn’t mentioned in the domain name, such as kitchen products? It could get confusing, so it’s better not to be too specific. Avoid dates, too; if you’re organising an annual event, you should be able to reuse the same domain each year.
The domain you choose may have an impact on how your website is perceived, so it’s worth taking some time to consider what domain extension is appropriate for your business.
If you’re a UK business, it’s best to use a trustworthy UK domain extension - .co.uk, .uk or .org.uk - to show customers where you’re based. UK domains also rank better in Google UK search results, potentially bringing you more traffic and therefore more business.