Buying a domain name is one of the most frustrating things you can do. You come up with great ideas, go to register them, and lo ’n behold – they are taken every single time. Stop now, and consider the message and brand awareness that you want to create.

Buying A Domain Name – 5 Points To Consider

1. Consider Branding When Buying A Domain Name

We chose ‘Freshly Blended’ as a domain name, as opposed to a keyword stuffed list of what we do for a number of reasons. Branding is more important than ever in recent times when buying a domain name, with Google more closely scrutinising keyword rich domains; we could of chosen ‘webdesignlincolnshire.co.uk’, but sit back and think about it – how memorable is that, really? It’s just a statement of what you do and a rather cynical attempt to game the search engines which is likely to lose all advantage – which is happening, even as we speak.

Why is branding important when choosing a domain name?

A brand is a kind of promise – think of all those brand names you know of; as an example, let’s think about cars. Citreon makes me think of something typically quirky French, Volvo makes me think of safety and solidity. These are the ideals you are trying to get across when establishing a brand. Apple brings to mind exclusivity and design. When thinking about your brand, consider all elements, from perceived personality to how memorable your business brand really is.

The problems with keyword rich domains

In the old days (old being up until recently!), having keyword rich text in the domain name had a positive effect on ranking, assuming on page elements were up to scratch. Whilst there are still benefits, you’re treading carefully along the tail of Smaug and trying not to make the head end take notice; Google, in recent years, has made sweeping changes in their search algorithms and it’s not a good tactic if you want to stay clear of penalties.

It sounds, quite frankly, rubbish when approaching a prospective client and announcing your company as ‘Web Design Lincolnshire’. That’s a little like Coca-Cola announcing themselves as ‘Fizzy Sugar Water’. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you having a company name and a keyword rich domain, but right there you have a potential disconnect from the client – there’s going to be disparity between elements of your business.

At the end of the day, I’d rather work harder to establish my brand – it can be a little more difficult to rank and requires extra work, but once that brand is established, the rewards more than pay off.

That being said, a keyword in a domain name can be very useful to a local business that’s trading in a given area. As an example, I chose louthhairdressers.co.uk for a local hairdresser, because in the grand balance of things, the amount of people searching for this local business with Louth as part of the search term, like all local businesses, is an overwhelmingly good target. If going down this not black, but kind of slightly off-white road, bear in mind that incoming anchor text needs a lot of variation. Exact match back links to an exact match domain looks incredibly artificial.

2. Don’t hyphenate your domain

Think of all the spammy sites out there – the ones that try to sell you knock off chemicals ‘guaranteed to raise the flesh flag’. They’re filled with hyphenated domain names (sixteen-ways-to-get-mega-rich-in-a-month.whatever). As always, the search giants keep their exact algorithms close to their collective chests, but it’s certainly something I’d avoid. Keep to one or two words.

3. Make your domain short and sweet

This goes some way to making your domain memorable. I’ll use my old domain as a reference – the previous branding was under the name ‘Eloquent Lunacy’. Now, imagine how many times I had to explain how to spell it on the phone, multiply the frustration by 20 and you’ll have some idea of just how much forehead blood coated my beautiful white walls.

4. Use an appropriate domain name extension

If you’re not an international concern, or your trade is mostly in your country of origin, use a country level e.g. .co.uk. If you are establishing a brand, where possible, try to pick up at the very least a .com as well; you really don’t want anybody pinching your niche.

If you are a not for profit organisation or charity, grab the .org and use it as your primary domain; it’s pretty well embedded in the public consciousness that this is a charity association.

There are a few new ones out there, such as .biz and .me (business and personal, respectively), but maybe not something people (yet) automatically think of as a domain name ending.

5. Don’t choose your domain name without planning and forethought.

Choosing your domain name should be a planned part of your business strategy. Jumping straight onto a registrar and choosing off the cuff is the worst thing you can do. Sit down with friends, business partners, family and brainstorm with them. DON’T gaze around the room and try to come up with a variation on titles based on your bookshelf and a crossword puzzle (been there, done that one) and come up with nothing but Funky Chicken.

Summary – Buying A Domain Name

Keep all the above points in mind when buying a domain name. Research your keywords, get some ideas flowing – what does your image say to the end client, whether you’re a business or a freelancer? All of this should be the important first steps in establishing your business on the web.

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