At Fabrik, we’re all about exceptional branding. Though most people assume that company branding is restricted to your logo, or the colours that you use in your printed media, the truth is that the concept goes much deeper. For instance, did you know that your domain name is a huge element in branding your company? If you want to ensure that your digital presence reflects your physical presence and underlying manifesto, you need the right name.
A domain name is something that companies need to live with for a long time. After all, it takes a lot of effort to generate awareness for a specific URL. If you spend months on this process just to decide that you’d have been better served by another domain name, you end up wasting some serious cash. Not only that, but you run the risk of alienating confused customers.
Here at Fabrik, we often find that customers may have a general idea of what they want to accomplish when starting a new brand, rebranding, or selecting a domain name that matches their underlying business M.O. However, they don’t know much about what they should keep in mind before registering their identity. Domain name search, and learning how to find a great domain name are talents that are worth their weight in gold.
The power of a great domain name can make your company instantly distinctive, memorable, and engaging. Your domain name registration may even be the first step you take towards a brand that resonates successfully in the great vastness of the world-wide web. Blended with your logo, branding, and manifesto, your domain name becomes a feature in the foundation of your business.
So, how do you get it right?
Here, we’re going to look at why great domain names are crucial, and which essential features you need to include in yours. We’ll also look at what to avoid when discovering how to register a domain name, and how to overcome various road-blocks.
Let’s get started.
Why choosing a domain name is crucial
So, how much thought should go into choosing a domain name? How important is it to conduct a thorough domain name search?
Many businesses believe that if they have a good product/service, and a high-quality website, their customers will visit them regardless of what their domain name might be. However, that’s rarely the case.
Your domain name is an essential aspect of your website, and it can easily make or break you. Finding a great domain name means finding something that your customers can automatically associate with your brand, and company value. For instance, Fabrikbrands.com includes the word “brand”, something we focus on heavily as a business, and something our customers are likely to search for on Google with “Brand identity”, or “Brand image” queries.
So, what is the power of a great domain name? What makes these simple strings of text so essential to business development? Well:
It’s your first chance to make an impression: Your URL is what your visitors see when they start searching for your brand. It helps to define who you are. It’s a chance to add credibility to your company. A great domain makes your company look professional. It proves to your customers that you’ve invested time, effort, and money into your service. It also shows that you’ve embraced the digital revolution.
It refines your internet presence: Owning the right domain name helps to improve your internet presence, not just by giving you a physical location to direct customers to, but also by boosting SEO. When keywords and phrases such as “brand” are used in your URL, it helps Google to define your business and rank you accordingly.
It builds your brand: Perhaps most importantly, a domain name helps to increase awareness of your brand. If your domain name matches your company name, it reinforces your presence, and makes it easier for customers to remember you. With an effective domain name, you can also make it easier for new customers to understand exactly what you do, and what you can offer them in terms of value.
The bottom line is that finding a great domain name can go a long way towards generating traffic for your website, and developing your reputation. The more you build your digital presence to work seamlessly alongside your offline branding, the more you’ll benefit from greater sales and loyal customers.
Domain name search: It all starts with research
Now that you understand why great domain names are crucial, you’ll be ready to begin searching for your own. Domain name registration, like many aspects of building a brand, starts with extensive research.
For example, before you begin looking for available names, you’ll need to think about what you’re trying to achieve with your website. Are you matching your company website to your existing name? Do you need to add something to it to ensure customers understand what you’re all about? Are you rebranding, or creating a new brand from scratch? Do you need to find something that distils the essence of your business? Make sure that you answer these questions before you begin brainstorming.
Once you have your “inspiration” in mind, you can begin writing down potential names. A good idea is to get everyone in your company to share their thoughts and opinions on an ideal name for your website. This way, you’ll get plenty of outside input, and versatile range of URLs to choose from when you’re starting to narrow down your options.
Eventually, you should feel comfortable making a list of possible names, starting with your favourite at the top, and least-favourite at the bottom. While this process will give you options, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t settle for “second best”, just because a name might be taken. We’ll address this concern a little further into this article. For now, you’re just researching.
Go to a website that allows you to explore domain names, and check to find out whether a similar organisation might already be using your name, or whether there’s any problems with security on the URLs you like best.
The researching stage is the perfect time to start checking for possible trademark infringements and other problems. Branding, or rebranding can be a tough experience by itself, the last thing you need is a legal dispute muddying your identity before it even approaches the limelight.
Finding a great domain name: Making it brandable
So, you have a general idea of what kind of name you’re looking for. Now, you need to learn what separates the best domain names, from the “average” options. During your domain name search, you may have seen a collection of “brandable” and “generic” URLs.
Brandable domain names are the ones that sound like a company when you say it out loud. These are the seamless names that can quickly become a verb in everyday language. For instance, if you need an answer to a question, you “Google” it. Google values brandable names over almost anything else.
Remember, your domain name is how your visitors will discover, remember, and share your brand around the web. Creative and brandable always outshines generic. This means that numbers, hyphens, awkward strings of keywords, and bizarre misspellings are all a big no-no.
Here’s how to register a domain name that’s inherently “brandable”:
Create something completely new: Developing your very own words like “Yahoo”, “Google”, or “Bing”, is a great way to be brandable. The key is finding something that’s unique, memorable, and descriptive of your brand.
Try something obvious: Fabrikbrands.com is an obvious domain name. It combines our brand, with our specific focus area. This is good because it means our customers can find us easily. It’s not about making your customers search for a needle in a haystack, after all.
Add that personal touch: If you know what your customers are looking for from your business, then try to add that into your brand name. For instance, “Bestrecipes.com” is sure to be memorable and brandable for people in search of great recipes.
Finding a great domain name: Short and sweet is best
When it comes to choosing a domain name, the shorter you go, the better. After all, the fewer characters a domain name has, the easier it is to say, remember, share, and type. Additionally, short domain names are less likely to be shortened on social media platforms and search results.
According to a study from Gaebler.com, the most popular websites usually have around 6 characters in their domain name.
Basically, the shorter you go, the more popular your website will be. People would rather type “Google”, or “Moz” into their search bars, than something that’s four or five words long. In fact, in the top 100 websites rated by popularity, the longest domain has only 17 characters.
The data suggests that staying concise is crucial. However, the shortest, and most obvious domain names are likely to have already sold, so you might have to be a little creative.
Finding a great domain name: Make it easy to type
Take a moment to think of some of the most popular websites you know. The chances are that you think of names like “Twitter”, “Google”, “Facebook”, and similar.
When you’re finding a great domain name, you’ll notice that the best options are easy to pronounce, and easy to spell. Your customers should be able to type and say your domain name without an issue. If you have to explain the spelling to someone several times, then it’s probably too complicated.
The power of a great domain name is enhanced by words that can easily become household terms. The last thing you want is for a potential visitor to end up on a different website because they don’t understand your URL. An easy way to test if your domain name is simple enough is to ask several people in your friends and family to spell your domain.
If more than a couple of people struggle to spell your URL, then you need to make it simpler. At the same time, just as domain name registration begins with something that rolls off the fingers, it should also include something that rolls off the tongue.
You want to make sure that it’s easy for someone to share your website with others, either on social media, or by word of mouth. Pronunciation and easy spelling is crucial for a popular URL. Though creativity is essential, it’s important to make sure that your innovation doesn’t come at the expense of simplicity.
Finding a great domain name: Consider using keywords
We mentioned above that Fabrikbrands.com is effective because it uses our brand name, plus an essential word that simplifies the essence of our company. “Brand” can also be seen as a keyword, and keywords are something that many designers and developers keep in mind when launching their online presence.
One great way to ensure that you get a boost online when you’re trying to rank higher, faster, is to include a keyword in your domain name. This process helps to identify your business, and ensures that search engines can see what your company is all about. The caveat to remember with this method is that you should only include keywords that make sense. You need to ask yourself whether the keyword you choose encompasses the most important element of your business, both today, and ten years from now.
Keywords can work wonders when it comes to finding a great domain name. However, you need to show caution. Attempting to stuff keywords awkwardly into your domain name registration could mean that you end up looking generic and unprofessional.
How to find a great domain name: What to avoid
Speaking of things that you need to be careful about when understanding the power of a great domain name, learning why great domain names are crucial, and what you can do to create one, also means understanding the behaviours you should avoid.
There’s a lot of dangerous mistakes out there that are waiting to trip new brands up when they’re trying to create the perfect presence online. Here are just some of the problems that you should steer clear from when choosing your domain name:
1. Avoid numbers and hyphens
If the name that you originally wanted has already been snatched up by another brand, you might be tempted to use numbers and hyphens, so you don’t have to choose something new. Unfortunately, these elements are often mis-understood. People who hear about your website misplace or forget the dash. Additionally, with numbers, they don’t know whether to spell the number out (one), or use the numeral (1).
Imagine if Facebook had included a dash in their domain name. Telling people to check out “Face-book.com” with a dash in the middle might have led to a much slower spread of the social network. Your domain name needs to be smooth, memorable, and punchy. Numbers and hyphens get in the way of the effect you want to create.
2. Avoid infringing on other brands
If another competitor in your space is doing very well, then you might think that the easiest way for you to build on your own success is to piggyback on what they’ve already accomplished. For example, you might use a brand name that’s very similar to your primary competitor. Unfortunately, this practice not only risks legal problems, but it can also make building your brand more difficult too.
When someone searches for your company, they may forget your brand name, and end up searching for your competitor instead. That means that you’re sending other people more business. Similarly, when it comes to ranking on Google, you’ll be setting yourself up to compete against an already-established, larger brand.
3. Don’t use words that could mean other things
Because a lot of people struggle with spelling (nearly half of Britons, for instance), it’s best to choose words that can’t be easily confused. For instance, “Bass” has two pronunciations, and may be spelt differently by certain people. Additionally, if you’re going to use two words or more together, make sure that they don’t create other words when the letters are all pushed together.
As an example, “Speed of art” (an actual website), sounds good out loud, but when you push those words together into “Speedofart.com” you can end up getting something very different.
How to find a great domain name: Why .com is still king
When you’re conducting your domain name search, you’ll also need to think about the extension you want to use. Although there are many new extensions available today, “.com” is still the best. People and search engines alike simply seem to trust this domain extension more than others.
More than 1.17 billion people are currently using Google search. That means that optimising your domain name for Google is essential to being found. According to research, 75% of domains are still using the “.com” extension, while the second most popular is “.net”, and the third is “.org”.
Typically, “.com” works best because it’s familiar. We’ve grown used to this extension, and it’s easier to remember. Though there are many successful websites out there with other extensions, the chances are that your website will often do better with a “.com” extension.
As an added tip, it may be worth buying the .net extension for your website to help you lock in your domain name and ensure that it stays out of the hands of other people.
Domain name registration: What if the perfect name isn’t available?
Okay, so what if you find the perfect domain name, and after all that searching, you discover that the “.com” you want isn’t available. A lot of startups and businesses fall in love with a particular name, and they simply don’t want to choose something different because their ideal option isn’t available.
If your domain name isn’t available, it’s okay to add something to it, like a prefix or suffix, that might help to expand your brand and give you access to the URL you want. The important element here is to make sure that you’re not trying to compete with someone in the same industry, or marketplace.
Being a little creative with your online brand is fine, particularly if the company you’re competing with has nothing to do with your target audience. For instance, there might be another “Fabriksewing” company on the web. By using “Fabrikbrands”, we’re not infringing on anyone, and we still get to make the most of our ideal domain name.
Some options to consider if your domain name is taken include:
Adding the location of your market (e.g. www.brandingUK.com)
Adding the intended audience (e.g. www.StartupbrandingUK.com)
Creating an acronym (e.g. Startup branding UK becomes www.SBUK.com)
During your domain name registration, it’s worth noting that even if the “perfect” domain name appears to be taken, that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. Sometimes, you’ll use a domain name search and find that your domain is owned by someone else, but it’s not being used. In this case, you can reach out to the owner, and they may be willing to sell if the price is right.
Domain name registration: Be prepared for the long term
Crucially, when learning how to register a domain name, it’s important to note that you need to be committed to your URL for the long-term.
As we mentioned in the intro to this article, the power of a great domain name shouldn’t be underestimated. Finding a great domain name means finding something that will continue to identify your brand and business for years. Any mistake is bound to cost you customer loyalty, branding, SEO rankings, and more. In other words, it’s a huge pain in the backside.
When you’re choosing your domain name, you need to think long-term. Look for something that’s simple and timeless, and avoid attempting to make use of the current trends. A good idea may be to examine your brand manifesto and the goals of your company. As you think about where you want to be in the next few years, you may be able to make decisions about the broader nature of your domain name.
Remember, you don’t want to pin yourself to a certain niche if there’s a chance that you might expand at a later date. Additionally, when you’re ensuring that your domain name is available, make sure that you check for availability on social media. Today, if you want to build a brand, you need to have the same identity across all platforms. Any trademarks that might damage your ability to grow as a company, should be considered when picking the perfect name.
Finding a great domain name
Finding a great domain name might not be simple, but it’s incredibly important to the success of your business. If you want a brand that can grow and thrive organically in the online world, then you need to start with a great domain name.
Remember to do your research, make it brandable, memorable, simple, and effective, and avoid the biggest mistakes. If you can get a “.com” extension, then you should, but don’t be afraid to get creative if you need to. Remember, you should never settle for anything less than the best for your brand identity.