By Erica Bray
When Atilla Vekony decided to take his 15 years of experience in online marketing and start his own digital marketing firm in 2015, he knew the domain name would be critical. He wanted something short, punchy and memorable. Something that would help net him new leads. Something that would brand him as innovative. Vekony knew that a ‘dot-com’ (.com) URL wasn’t for him.
“Businesses for a very long time were relying on 'dot-com' for their domain name, and it was so frustrating to find one that fit,” he says. “People ended up with a lot of stupid business names because the 'dot-com' wasn't available."
Vekony didn’t want to compromise the name he truly wanted for his new startup venture: Icon. And available 'dot-com' domains such as icondigitalsolutionsaz.com or iconmarketingarizona.com didn't capture what he wanted.
So he chose this succinct URL: www.icon.digital.
The 'dot-digital' (.digital) domain extension is one of nearly 1,000 not-com choices available for businesses and personal brands seeking a memorable online presence. What's more, they are essentially virgin snow in the domain name universe. Availability is still good, much better than 'dot-com,' as most just became available to the general public in 2015.
That's good news for entrepreneurs such as Vekony who value a short and succinct URL. Many startups take into account domain name availability when choosing a company name, and a short one will help you stand out.
Here are seven ways that a short domain name adds value to your business -- and how not-com domain extensions can help you accomplish that.
1. It’s memorable.
Short domain names, by nature of being concise, are much easier for a potential client or customer to remember.
Just consider the options that Vekony could have debated, and you be the judge of which is more memorable: icondigitalsolutionsaz.com versus icon.digital.
Not-com domain extensions can help better categorize a business and tell a story about what it does. That further enhances memorability. Consider these real-life businesses and what the domains immediately suggest about what they do:
-- www.soul.camp -- www.bootylicious.coffee -- www.reno.florist -- www.zest.marketing
Obvious? Yes. Memorable? Absolutely.
2. Google prefers short URLs.
If you care about being found by prospective customers in a Google search, take heed to this bit of advice from Google's John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst:
"When we have two URLs that have the same content, and we are trying to pick one to show in the search results, we will pick the shorter one ... it doesn’t mean it’s a ranking factor, but it means that if we have two URLs, and one is really short and sweet, and the other one has this long parameter attached to it, and we know they show exactly the same content, we’ll try to pick the shorter one.
Google also happens to be a champion of not-com domain options, having gone on the record saying that businesses and brands needn't worry about these new domains being treated any differently than 'dot-com' (.com) and 'dot-org' (.org).
See Related: Google: We Prefer Short URLs
3.It can boost your SEO (search engine optimization).
A recent study by Moz, an SEO consulting company, takes it one step further -- with hard data. It suggests that lengthy URLs and search engine optimization (SEO) actually have a negative correlation. Just as too many words and dashes are not only a mouthful in real life, the Google algorithm has a distaste for serving them up prominently in searches. In short: If you want potential customers to "find" your business, chances improve when your company domain is short.
See Related: 8 Tips to Boost Your SEO
4. It demonstrates credibility.
A long-winded 'dot-com' domain name can signal a new, inexperienced company because "because they couldn't get their 'dot-com," Vekony says. Short domain names show a proactive-ness on the part of the company that owns it, that "they got their domain name when it was still available," adds Vekony.
5. It pops in social media.
More and more companies have been gravitating toward short and clever URLs for social media efforts. When you have just 140 characters to use in Twitter, after all, every character counts. You'll even notice slick use of domain extensions in social media by big brands such as TIME (Ti.me) and Taco Bell (Ta.co). Says Vekony of his domain name in his company's Twitter and Facebook bios: "My domain name looks so pretty and short."
6. It implies trustworthiness.
We've all stumbled upon a long-winded domain name and probably thought, "Is this business legit?" A clunky and obtuse domain name can appear suspicious to a prospective client or customer, even subconsciously, says Vekony. He says his short domain name, icon.digital-- by the very nature of it being clean and concise -- implies to consumers that he knows what he's doing.
7. It looks good on a business card.
A long-winded domain name doesn't imply polished professionalism the same way a concise one does. Short and snappy domain names can even be a conversation starter, especially when they use a not-com extension that someone perhaps has never seen before -- it positions your company as forward-thinking.
In fact, New York City-based photographer Meg Laubscher says she doesn't even need a business card. Her URL, Meg.photography, says it all. "Sometimes people will either lose a business card, and some won’t even pause to read what one says," Laubscher says. "If they can remember my first name, Meg, and that my industry is photography, they can easily find my website."