By Maris Callahan
Choosing the perfect name for your business is one of the most important decisions you can make as an entrepreneur. Your business name sets the foundation for how clients or customers will view your company, its mission and its values.
In today's digital age, having a website presence is becoming increasingly critical as more and more people look to the Internet to purchase products or services. People see your domain name before they see anything else on your website. In order to have a polished brand, you need a domain name that will generate a positive reaction and contribute to your online success.
When you find the perfect business name, choosing a corresponding digital identity is no easy feat. Here are four mistakes to avoid when you choose a domain name for your new business.
1. Choosing a 'dot-com' because it's what everyone else does.
In the 25 years since the Internet became available to the public, 'dot-com' has become a ubiquitous domain name ending. Although well-recognized among the general public, the 'dot-com' is no longer the only or the best choice for your website.
Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a 'dot-com' that matches your business name, or modifying your name with hyphens, numbers in place of letters and misspellings, more and more companies are choosing “not-com” domain names that allow them to spell it out in full. Real business examples include: www.upshot.agency, www.fathom.clothing, www.soul.camp and many more.
“These kinds of names use extensions to identify different things, ranging from the professional (.investments) to industry-specific (.catering) to extensions that are fun or playful (.guru),” says Margaret Wolfson, founder and creative director of River + Wolf, a top brand naming agency based in New York City.
2. Choosing a 'dot-net' address because your 'dot-com' wasn't available.
For many years, 'dot-net' was considered the backup to .com -- if your name wasn't available in .com, you'd choose www.yourbusiness.net as the easy backup. However, that was at a point in time where there were limited options from which to choose a domain name extension.
Where there used to be scarcity, not-com domain names offer new opportunity for companies seeking to create or rebrand a digital identity and also stand out from the crowd. A specific domain name extension can let you be more creative in naming your business in the first place.
For example: the owners of Brooklyn-based coffee subscription service Driftaway Coffee chose a 'dot-coffee' (.coffee) domain because ‘www.driftaway.com’ would not tell the world what kind of business they're in. Their domain name, www.driftaway.coffee, allows them to be extremely creative in their business name, while also telling the world exactly what the business is -- a coffee business.
3. Thinking locally instead of globally.
When you're starting a business, it's easy to think locally and target the customers who are right in your own backyard. That's why a lot of international companies like to use geographic specific domain names, or country codes.
Instead of picking a '.co.uk' address from your London based business or a '.co.nz' business for your New Zealand business, a more descriptive domain name gives you room for multinational growth.
Two great examples are www.Yoni.care from Amsterdam and Liverpool's www.Myne.boutique. Both are businesses that appeal to customers outside their geographic region, and because they use creative and thought-provoking domain names, their businesses are poised for expansion whenever they're ready for it.
4. Choosing a domain name that isn't SEO-friendly.
If you have to mash up your domain name with hyphens, special characters, numbers or misspellings, it's going to be harder for people to find you.
“When it comes to search engine results, your website URL – also known as your domain name – matters," said SEO strategist, Bill Hartzer. "When web surfers see your URL, they usually make a decision whether or not to click through to your website within seconds, or even faster."
By using a domain name like 'dot-photography' (.photography) or 'dot-restaurant' (.restaurant), you have the chance to grab the attention of both search engines and individuals who are searching the web.
Hartzer says that this route won’t negatively affect your search ranking, according to reports by Google. In fact, recent studies published by the SEO consulting firm Globe Runner indicate that a not-com domain can actually improve SEO while lowering your digital advertising expense.
While the real driver of SEO is the content on your website, a keyword rich domain name can only help people find you, especially if that name is a meaningful, memorable and creative one.