While Shakespeare felt Romeo’s surname was unimportant, having the right website name IS.

The prevalence of Facebook and other platforms for marketing a business have lulled many into a false sense of security. Stick a few bits of news up and “they will come”.

But as we’ve seen in recent times, you have no control over what happens on those platforms. One minor change or scandal, and you could lose any benefits it may have provided.

This is where your website comes in. It’s your unfair advantage. ALL controlled by you. By all means, use other services, but drive traffic back to your website. A website that has a relevant, memorable (domain) name.

It can be frustrating finding one that ticks all the boxes. But don’t pick the first available name that “sounds ok”.

Below are a few things to keep in mind to help you find “the one”.

Are you building a brand or selling a service ?

This doesn’t need to be complex. 

Simply, how is business referred to you ?

Do people say, “Go to Kevin’s for your hair” or “The glass repair guy, John, in Cork/Liverpool/Whatever is good”?

In these cases, kevins.ie, hairbykevin.co.uk , kevinshair.co.uk (funny as well), glassreplacement.ie, glassrepair.co could be good options.

Keep it short.

Not only is it easier to remember but it also has other practical implications.

Signage, business cards, branded clothing. They’re all affected by the length of your domain name. The “radio test” is a great way to think about a potential name. Will someone listening to the radio instinctively know what your website is about and how to spell it?

Imagine asking someone to type weddings.ie or weddingservices.org as opposed to amazingweddingservicesonline.com

If you’re registering a .ie, you’re in luck. There are still many short and relevant options available to you. For a .com, the choice is much more limited, so you might go down another route such as a .org, .co, .me .info, .net or a myriad of the other choices out there.

More recently, thousands of options have presented themselves in the so called new gTLDS (see the end of this article).

Can you make it memorable ?

You don’t always have to go down the generic route. There are thousands of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Don’t be “one of them”. Look for a category defining name. A geographic name. A funny name.

Like all things in business, you need to stand out and be memorable.

You’re a butcher ? While dublinbutcher.ie works, there are a lot of butchers in Dublin. And you might have designs on growth outside of your region. Something like moo.ie is short, amusing and makes sense when you visit the site. The chances of getting some PR based on your name being “different” are also higher.

You offer accounting services ? 

How about spreadsheet.me or beancounter.me

You’re a lawyer representing customers who are involved in a financial institute scandal? The domains commerciallawyer.co or commerciallaw.uk might be very useful for a lead generation website.

The point is, you don’t always have to use your business name. Especially if you’re considering using the website for a marketing campaign or a specific service / product you offer.

PLEASE don’t “hack” it

Yes, cadd.ie ,flic.kr, lawye.rs and linger.ie are quirky and fun. But please stay away from domain “hacks”. They can lead to confusion. And the last thing you want, is to confuse potential customers. Especially when they find domains weird at the best of times. 

When choosing a website name, think about how you would convey the name to someone while chatting. If they wouldn’t “get it” within a few seconds, don’t use it.

Be wary of hyphens and numbers

There are some caveats. For example, in Germany, using a hyphen is common practice. But in general, hyphens are a bad idea. Again, think of how the general public would use it. Most (English speaking) people would not think of typing a hyphen.

Having to register a domain with a hyphen also means the non-hyphen version is already taken. So you have the added risk of sending prospects to the competition.

Similarly, using numbers in a name can lead to confusion. Is it the number (5) or is it the word (five) that represents the number. The more the consumer has to think about the name, the higher the chances are they won’t bother.

Where do you “live” ?

Do you want to focus only on your town or city ? 
Or do you have national and global ambitions?

For the latter, you will need to think of the bigger picture when registering your domain name. While .ie is a trusted extension in Ireland, having the .com , .co.uk equivalent will be an advantage as your focus changes.

Brand protection is a huge consideration as you grow. Having the relevant domain(s) for your markets is a relatively inexpensive outlay. Spending a few hundred €,$,£ now (per YEAR ) can save you thousands or even tens of thousands later on. 

Especially as domain names are tax deductible (in Ireland anyway)

Do you “live alone” ?

In the legal sense 🙂 Is your name infringing on a trademark or used by another company ? Stay away. It will cost you money and your domain. There is ample choice out there. Take your time and get the right name. 

Upgrade later

At first, the right domain could be out of your financial reach. Register the name that fist best with all your current requirements. When you grow and your budget allows, buy THE domain that fits your company or service.

For years, Teamwork, an Irish based SaaS company, used teamworkpm.com as their primary domain. As they scaled, they decided to buy teamwork.com . For €500,000.00 . While that sounds crazy to many, the exact match domain has driven even more growth and paid back in spades. 

And again, it’s an asset you can claim deductions on.

Own it!

Literally. If your name is not on the Registrant’s details section, you are NOT the domain holder*. So, if a web developer, friend or family are registering it for you, make sure they use YOUR details.

*you never “own” a domain name. You are the rightful holder once you pay the registration fee and for as long as you pay the renewal fees. Like renting a house or apartment.

Some other ideas

  • Always test your preferred choice(s) on non-technical people.
  • If you’re registering a category or service name , try and get both the singular and plural. E.g. gardenshed.com and gardensheds.com
  • If your first choice is not available, try some subtle alternatives.
  • Investigate the huge selection of new domain extension (new gTLDS). From a .space to a .beer, you can choose from over 1200 extension (the part that goes after the dot). Bear in mid that the general public are still unaware of them. So you may need to explain that your URL is www.washington.dentist and NOT www.washingtondentist.com
  • Ensure the domain / hosting company you’re using to register the domain is ICANN accredited. It means they jumped through many hoops and your domain is in much safer hands.
  • Finally, if your heart is set on a domain that’s already registered, you could make an offer. My tip would be to do this via a domain broker / expert. Contacting a domain holder directly, generally leads to a higher price.

In closing 

Business owners spend countless hours building their companies. The right domain name can amplify your efforts and message. It can work for you 24/7. Use social media by all means but reap the rewards of the time you invest there, to drive the traffic back your “property”. The one that has the unique name that tells everyone it’s YOU. The one YOU control. For as little as 2 cups of coffee a month. Surely your business is worth that at the very least.